Hydrangea care

Hydrangeas: care and cultivation

About 80 species of perennials, deciduous leaves, climbing plants and shrubs belong to the Hydrangee group, the botanical name of hydrangea. Native to Asia, the hydrangea was introduced in Europe during the 18th century, where the species «hydrangea macrophylla» was widespread. It has a sturdy stem which, if not pruned, can reach 2-3 meters in height; the leaves are toothed and wrinkled while the flowers are gathered in colored inflorescences. It is a plant that can decorate the garden or be grown in pots, in both cases, for the treatments, the same precautions can be followed. First of all we must keep in mind that they do not like direct sunlight but prefer half-light, therefore, if kept in the garden, we can adopt the shrewdness to arrange them near a low wall or under a pergola. Watering must be abundant, to keep the soil cool and moist; but for potted plants you shouldn’t let the water stagnate in the saucer. The leaves can be vaporized with water to keep them at the right humidity. In spring / summer, liquid fertilizer rich in potassium can be added to the water.

Hydrangeas: Care and Cultivation, Part Two

Hydrangea is a perennial plant that loses all its leaves in winter and begins to sprout in early spring. In this period we must start watering abundantly to always maintain the humidity of the soil. The characteristic flowers bloom in April and, in the case of apartment plants, their flowering lasts from 6 to 8 weeks. However, it is difficult for the houseplant to bloom again the following year; the best thing to do, to prolong its life cycle, is to transplant it in the garden or in a large planter to leave outdoors. A peculiar feature of hydrangea is that its flowers vary in color depending on the acidity of the soil in which they grow: if the Ph is 5-5.5 the flowers are blue, if it is between 5.5 and 6.5 are intense red and finally if higher than 6, 5 are pink. If we want the flowers to be tinged with an intense blue, we can intervene directly using fertilizer for acidophilic plants, rich in potassium. Instead, to maintain the alkalinity of the soil and obtain pink flowers, we use a fertilizer rich in nitrogen. White hydrangeas, on the other hand, cannot change color.

Hydrangeas care: pruning

Pruning is a delicate operation, doing it wrong can block the development of the plant, make it sick or cause its death. To proceed without errors, the first thing to do is make sure which species of hydrangea we are going to intervene on, then know the flowering time. Hydrangea macrophylla, which is the most common variety, blooms on the branches of the previous year. It does not require excessive pruning but it is necessary to eliminate dried branches and flowers, cutting above the first pair of buds and being very careful not to damage the young branches, as they will bloom the following year. In plants that have reached 5-6 years of age, 1/3 of the branches can be eliminated by cutting them at ground level: this will allow the hydrangea to renew itself, also producing richer blooms. The period indicated for the operation varies: in the colder areas it is practiced in February, in the milder ones in autumn, on houseplants it can be done in September. In any case it is important to use shears that make a clean cut, as this reduces the possibility of entry of fungi and pathogens.

Hydrangea cure: Hydrangeas: cure of diseases

Botrytis and Oidium fungal diseases are recognizable by the presence of white or yellowish molds on leaves, branches or flowers. Generally it is sufficient to prune the infected parts and use antifungal products to save the plant. On the other hand, in the case of an infestation with Armillaria melica, if you do not intervene promptly it is necessary to remove and destroy it. This fungus, whose presence is favored by water stagnation, attacks the roots and manifests itself with creamy white plaques. If it has not yet spread, you can stop its progress by cleaning the infected parts and disinfecting them with copper. Aphid infestations must be fought by acting both against eggs, with white oil and phosphoric esters, and against adult parasites, with products such as phosphamidone. Nematodes, tiny worms that live in roots and leaves, they betray their presence with swellings and blisters. They are effectively counteracted with specific nematocides based on the soil. The red spider of greenhouses causes, with its bites, the drying of the leaves, which is also eliminated with specific products for eggs or adults.

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