Hydrangeas are a popular type of garden shrub with delicate heads of pink, white or blue flowers and pretty colour in the autumn. The thing most people remember about hydrangeas is that they have the ability to change colour in different soils.

Growing hydrangea:

Hydrangeas like to grow in a soil that is moist and yet drains well. You should place them in a cool and semi-shady part of the garden where they are fairly sheltered and do not risk losing their spring growth to strong winds and extreme weather conditions. You should avoid dry and particularly sunny spots as hydrangeas do not appreciate being dried out too much not overheated.

You can buy a variety of hydrangeas from many garden centres and plant nurseries. Make sure that you choose the correct variety for you – some climb and others are bushy in habit. Hydrangeas can also be propagated in a number of ways – by seed, cuttings or layering.

Hydrangeas are rather hungry plants and will benefit from the addition of some compost or well-rotted manure into the soil before planting. They will also benefit from the addition of a good organic mulch such as leaf mould, garden compost or bark. Do not overfeed with fertilisers as this will lead to excessive, soft, leafy growth and can lead to a failure at setting bud or buds that are more susceptible to frost damage.

Not all hydrangeas will change colour but many do. This happens because the soil pH changes the availability of aluminium to the plant. In an acid soil there are high available aluminium levels and the flowers of a hydrangea with blue-pink flowers will tend to be blue. They will be mauve in acid to neutral soil conditions and in alkaline soil conditions they will be pink. If you want blue flowers you should try to water always with rainwater as hard tap water can have an effect and turn them mauve or pink. Aluminium compounds can be added to hydrangeas to keep them blue in conditions where the soil is not acidic enough. Though really, you should always try to choose a variety that will look good in the soil that you already have, rather than trying to amend existing soil too much. Work with what you've got.

Why grow hydrangea in the garden?

Hydrangea of all colours can look lovely and add a bold splash of colour in your garden. They are one of the most popular decorative shrubs. Hydrangeas are no nonsense and generally very easy to grow, requiring very little intervention throughout the year as long as they are not subjected to drought. They are a pretty addition that suits many different types of garden.

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