Hydrangea: Houseplant of the Month for April
Large umbels, fairytale colours, an excess of beauty – when the Hydrangeas arrive, spring has truly begun.
The Hydrangea is a voluptuous beauty with many large flowers which can, surprisingly, change colour during flowering. The plant always makes a lavish impression, with large full umbels packed with small star-shaped flowers. Indoors it creates a romantic mood and catches the light in a fascinating way. The flowers are just like jewels: there’s always one that catches your eye, whatever angle you look at the plant from. The Hydrangea immediately makes you think of the long, light days of spring and the atmosphere of summer.
- Hydrangeas have a light sweet fragrance, and range from specially cultivated plants with one flower through to a sturdy shrub, and everything in between.
- White, blue, pink, purple, lilac, red, green, mixed – the plant is available in astoundingly beautiful colours.
- After flowering cut off the flowers and give your hydrangea a new life outdoors. Do this after the middle of May.
It’s all in the name
Hydrangea’s name literally means ‘barrel’. ‘Hydro’ is ‘water’, and ‘angeion’ means ‘barrel or jug’. The name points to the most important prerequisite for a beautiful Hydrangea: enough water.
The Hydrangea symbolises grace, beauty and abundance (because of the extravagant number of flowers and the generous full shape), but also gratitude and heartfelt feelings, making it a popular Mother’s Day gift.
The plant is native to south and east Asia and North and South America. Some species have developed into large trees, whilst others remain small compact shrubs. On the Azores, Faial Island is known as the ‘blue island’ because of the abundant presence of Hydrangeas.
Blue Hydrangeas like to be given some potassium alum or aluminium sulphate from August – when they start producing new buds – to ensure an attractive colour. Pink flowers require chalk, and adding potassium alum to red hydrangeas turns them purple.
The Hydrangea is known in other languages as Hortensia: a name that was first used in 1771 by the French botanist Philibert Commerson. It’s suspected that he named the flower after the woman for whom he had a soft spot. Various ladies have been cited as his inspiration, including Queen Hortense, daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais and Napoleon, and Hortense de Nassau, daughter of the Prince of Nassau.
How to ensure that your Hydrangea remains beautiful for a long time
- Hydrangeas love a light spot, but not in full sun. If the location is too warm, the plant will produce fewer flowers.
- The Hydrangea is a keen drinker. Avoid drooping by ensuring that the plant always has slightly damp soil.
- Because growing and flowering demands a lot of energy from the Hydrangea, you can help the plant by giving it some plant food once a fortnight.
- Don’t feed it more than this, otherwise the plant will lose its compact shape.
A drooping Hydrangea can recover completely if given sufficient water and placed in a cool spot
Chic & simple
Because the Hydrangea is already a spectacle in its own right, it’s best to keep the pot simple: grey terracotta, bleached terracotta or a LBP ( Little Black Planter). Choose a slightly robust pot to contrast beautifully with the elegant flowers.
For more information see: www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
Published on: 29 March 2018