Hydrangea

What are those giant bushes covered in perfumed blue and pink clusters of flowers? Why hydrangeas of course!  Just as popular in bridal bouquets as adorning your country home, these flowers are loved for their versatility.

I saw you riding on your bike
In a corduroy jacket in the night
Past the hydrangeas that were blooming in the alley
With a galloping dog by your side”

 Jolie Holland

The Meanings of Hydrangeas

Most Hydrangeas grow in a single color per plant, except for the amazing Bigleaf Hydrangea which changes color from pink to blue based on your soil pH. For a list of common color meanings check below! 

Pink – Linked to romance, heartfelt emotions, love, weddings, and marriage.

Blue – Connected to frigidity, turning down a romantic proposal, asking for forgiveness, and expressing regret.

Red – Love and gratitude.

White – Known as a symbol of purity, grace, abundance, and bragging or boasting.

Purple – Used to indicate a desire for a deeper understanding of someone else or to symbolize abundance and wealth. [1]

The History of Hydrangeas

The name “hydrangea” comes from the Greek “hydor,” meaning water, and “angos,” meaning jar or vessel. This roughly translates to “water barrel,” referring to the hydrangea’s need for plenty of water and its cup-shaped flower.

In Japan, the flower has a historical tradition behind it linked to apologies and gratitude. An emperor supposedly gave Hydrangeas to a maiden he loved as an apology for neglecting her when other business took up all his attention. [2]

In Japan, hydrangeas have a historical tradition behind them that are linked to apologies and gratitude. An emperor supposedly gave hydrangeas to a maiden he loved as an apology for neglecting her when other business took up all his attention. Contemporary florists in Japan use it to represent genuine emotions and love because the pink blossoms in particular resemble a beating heat. The Victorians were not as fond of the Hydrangea and used it as a symbol to declare someone a boaster. In Medieval times, they believed that young women who grew or picked Hydrangeas would never find a husband. Modern Western florists often use the flowers in wedding bouquets and apology arrangements to tie in with their graceful and abundant meanings.

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DID YOU KNOW?

Hydrangea Fun Fact

The Hydrangea serrata is used to make a sweet tea that Buddhists use as a cleansing ritual wash for statues of the Buddha each year.

How to Grow Hydrangeas

Most hydrangeas thrive in rich, porous, moist soils. They can be a bit of a pain and prefer full sun in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon. Plant them in the spring or fall and watch them bloom year after year!

Here’s how to plant hydrangeas:

Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide.

Set the plant in the hole and fill it half full with soil. Water. After water is drained, fill the rest of the hole with soil.

Water thoroughly.

Space multiple hydrangeas about 3 to 10 feet apart.

For the first year or two after planting and during any drought, be sure hydrangeas get plenty of water. Leaves will wilt if the soil is too dry.

If your soil is rich, you may not need to fertilize hydrangeas. If your soil is light or sandy, it’s best to feed the plants once a year in late winter or spring. Too much fertilizer encourages leafy growth at the expense of blooms. Learn more about soil amendments.

In the fall, cover plants to a depth of at least 18 inches with bark mulch, leaves, pine needles, or straw in the fall. If at all possible, cover the entire plant, tip included, by making cages out of snow fencing or chicken wire, and loosely filling the cages with leaves. 

It’s possible to change their color, because as we mentioned before, the level of aluminum changes their color. It will take weeks or even months, but we suggest waiting until the plants are at least 2 years old before you experiment with “dying” them.

It’s not every hydrangea that changes color. The color of some Bigleaf hydrangeas (H. macrophylla)—especially Mophead and Lacecap types—and H. serrata cultivars change color based on the soil pH.

Acidic soils with a pH of less than 5.5 produce blue flowers; soils with a pH greater than 5.5 produce pink flowers. White flowers are not affected by pH. [3]

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DID YOU KNOW?

Hydrangea Fun Fact

 The colors of the flowers are affected by the aluminum ions in the soil.

How to Care for Hydrangeas

Before cutting your Hydrangea bring a bucket of water into the garden with you. 

Cut the stem on the Hydrangea bloom as long as possible, and then immediately place the stem into your bucket of water and cut the stem to your desired length once it is submerged in the water. Make sure you cut it at a 45 degree angle.

When you bring your cut Hydrangea  blooms indoors, boil up some water and fill  your vase/ bucket. Cut about 5cm from your hydrangea stem and immediately place the stem in boiling water and leave them there. Sounds crazy right? It works!

The Boiling water treatment can also be used to revive wilting heads after a day or so and the Hydrangea heads can look as fresh as the day they were cut from your garden. [4]

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When to Give Hydrangeas as a Gift

Try giving the gift of Hydrangeas for weddings, engagements, and other unifying ceremonies. They’re also great for asking forgiveness, and they are the perfect flowers for celebrating your 4th wedding anniversary!

References:

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