Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla plants are commonly called hydrangeas, and are very common in Italy; this species comes from the highlands of China, and from the mountainous areas of Japan; it arrived in Europe in 1700, to spread quickly enough in most of the gardens. Hydrangeas are very popular because their flowering is very prolonged: it begins in June, with the spring heat, and ends when the first colds are felt, in September or October. The hydrangea macrophyllathey give rise to large, rounded shrubs, with large heart-shaped leaves, which vegetate throughout the summer, and then dry up in autumn, when the plant is completely stripped; the spring shoots are large and elongated, and the new leaves appear when spring temperatures arrive. The flowers are gathered in corymbs, that is, in spherical bunches, consisting of small sterile flowers, with variously colored sepals; hydrangeas grown in nature have small white flowers, but today there are many varieties, with pink, blue, red, lilac flowers.

Hydrangea mcrophylla: cultivation

The spread of these plants in Italian gardens shows how easy it is to grow them, as they are present both in the gardens of passionate growers and in neglected condominium gardens. In fact, hydrangeas are plants that have adapted well to the Italian climate, despite the fact that in the areas of origin they lived in places with a cool and humid climate. To prevent the hot Italian summer from stopping flowering, these plants should be positioned in a fairly bright place, but sheltered from direct sunlight, therefore in partial shade. The soil must be acidic, rich in peat, soft and rich, in order to allow the thin roots to develop and shelter from the heat. Watering is the main problem presented by these plants: they love a humid and cool climate; so they water very often, from April to September, so that the soil is always slightly damp, but not completely soaked with water. To maintain humidity, it is also convenient to cover the soil around the plants with mulch of bark or expanded clay.

The flowers of hydrangeas

These plants are grown essentially for their flowers, gathered in large inflorescences; they bloom from early spring, and stay in bloom for a long time, until the end of summer; during the winter they can be used in dried flower bouquets, because the small withered flowers remain tenaciously attached to the inflorescence. The peculiarity of hydrangeas consists in having mainly sterile flowers, with four large colored sepals, and some fertile, small and insignificant flowers, positioned in the center of the corymb. Some varieties have many fertile flowers, and only a crown of flowers with sepals placed outside the inflorescence; this type of corymbs are called lacecap. Hydrangea macrophylla has pigments in the flower petals that are strongly affected by the acidity of the soil in which it is grown; when the pH tends to be acidic, the flowers have a color that tends towards blue; when, on the other hand, the pH of the soil is basic, the flowers tend to pink. Between these two extremes, we find varieties that particularly love basic soil, with red or white flowers.

Hydrangea macrophylla: cultural care

In addition to watering, which must be very regular, the hydrangea macrophyllait also needs regular fertilization; if you want flowers with an intense blue color, in addition to keeping the plant in an acid ph soil, it is advisable to provide, at the end of winter, a fertilizer rich in aluminum, because it is the presence of this metal that stimulates the blue color of the hydrangeas. If the flowers of your plant are bright red, then you will have to guarantee a basic soil, rich in calcium, which can be added with special fertilizers. At the end of winter it is advisable to provide a greening fertilizer to all shrubs, possibly in slow release granules, to be spread at the foot of the plants. Pruning is done at the end of winter, and must simply be aimed at cleaning the shrub, removing any withered flowers and thin, broken or underdeveloped branches.

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