Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday, Hydrangeas

Ah Wednesday again! Be sure to drop by A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday. It has been lovely the past two days with weather reaching almost 60. With a little rain which we will be getting buckets of any day now, the blooms should finally show their spring finery. I have one lowly daffodil blooming and some lovely lavender heather keeping my yellow pansies company.

With Easter right around the corner, flowers are popping up everywhere. It’s hard not to fall in love with one and give it a good home. I have to add to my Hydrangea “collection” every year. They are everywhere for Easter, grocery stores, home centers, garden shops, & street corners. Here are a couple rules of thumb-(green)! To make you a happy Hydrangea owner.

Mop head Hydrangeas are the fickle ladies of the garden. One year they are prone to blue couture & pink the next. They embrace a woman’s prerogative of changing her mind.

If your garden has acid soil, your hydrangeas will sport a wardrobe of blue. If you have base, sweet soil, she’ll deck herself out in pink.

If you desire that coveted blue finery, check the pH level of your soil. You can get test kits at most garden shops. A pH of 6.5 is considered in the neutral range. If your test indicates a reading below this level, your soil is considered acid. Lady Mop head will produce blooms in a blue hue in acid soil.

Alkaline soil, with a pH above 6.5, will dress the ladies in pink or red.
Working lime into neutral or acidic soil will turn the soil more alkaline or sweet. Lime may be applied around the base of the shrub in spring & fall.

But like most Grande dames, they are slow to change their favorite attire. They will not make a dramatic change overnight. It may take them several years to change their frocks.

Even though that showy lady was dressed in blue at the garden center, like a leopard she may change her “spots” in her own home, based on where her “feet” are planted.

I try to choose a place in the garden where they get morning sun & afternoon shade. My grandma always planted one near a down-spout, because they like lots of water.

Hydrangeas make excellent cut flowers. Cut blooms in early morning before mid-day heat has caused their floppy heads to droop. I lightly spritz them with water from my sprayer at the sink to dislodge any little uninvited guests. Cut the stems on an angle underwater on the green growth, not the woody stems. Remove any leaves that will be below the water line. Leaves left underwater will produce bacteria & shorten the life-span of the arrangement. Cutting the stem underwater allows water instead of air to travel up the stem. Fill a bucket with several inches of water & place your cut flowers in a cool, dark place for a few hours before arranging. I have found cut hydrangeas are not fond of the floral food that comes in those little packets with cut bouquets. To keep my bouquet looking its freshest, I re-cut the stems every few days & change the water in the vase. I have had bouquets of hydrangeas last for up to two weeks.
Get outside & enjoy this lovely Wednesday!


Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer said...

Happy Outdoor Wednesday Kate! Beautiful hydrangeas...I have some green on mine...can't wait! Thanks for sharing your photos.~ Susan

. said...

I'm crazy for hydrangeas. These ones are amazing.


once in a blue moon... said...

beautiful! but kitties always steal the show for me~

ellen b. said...

Good morning Kate! I love hydrangeas. What great info you shared. Beautiful photos!
Happy O.W. to you...

Jadehollow said...

You have beautiful Hydrangeas! Thanks for sharing the info about the ph .. I was wondering why the one I planted as pink turned blue the next year.
Great educational post.

kanishk said...

beautiful! but kitties always steal the show for me~
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