My first Hydrangeas of the season
Last year's Hydrangeas
But here's the thing. Last year most of my Hydrangeas were pink, and this year, the first flowers that have appeared are blue. So what has changed with my soil between the end of last summer and the beginning of this summer? The only new thing that has happened is that I composted my whole garden at the end of winter and I suspect that the compost mix was probably high in aluminium sulfate.
However, Hydrangeas often change colour on their own when they are planted or transplanted. They are adjusting to the new environment. It is not unusual to see several different colours on one shrub the next year after planting.
Another bush, mostly blue with hints of pink
Another bush flowering blue with a pink one on the same bush
Although 70-75 species of hydrangea plants are native to southern and eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas, and Indonesia) and the Americas, no South African garden seems to be complete without them - we have made them our own "Christmas flower", as they start blooming in November, reaching a peak in December and over Christmas. Instead of holly and ivy, our Christmas tables and mantles are decorated with Hydrangeas and their big green leaves.
Last year's flowers going through the drying process
Pink Hydrangeas on my dining room table last year
A few Facts About Hydrangeas
- Hydrangeas are one of very few plants that accumulate aluminium. Aluminium is released from acidic soils, and forms complexes in the hydrangea flower giving them their blue colour.
- Hydrangeas produce their main flower clusters from the tips of shoots formed from the previous season.
- If the terminal buds of these shoots are destroyed, the plant usually fails to bloom. The chief causes of destruction of the terminal buds are excessive winter cold and uninformed pruning.
- Hydrangeas are also widely used as dried flowers, especially the blue Hydrangeas.
- Although most Hydrangeas bloom in summer and fall, a few Hydrangeas have developed the ability to set new bloom buds in the spring after the old ones have been pruned off or damaged.