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The hydrangea shrubs that grow in eastern North Carolina bloom like clouds and have become synonymous with spring and summer. I have vivid memories of driving around my neighborhood and seeing bright pink, white and lilac flowers on nearly every front lawn.
My family even had a few bushes in the back lawn where we could enjoy lots of direct sunlight with shade pockets strewn with hydrangeas all day. However, my mother said that it never bloomed as bright blue as she had intended.
This is a common mistake made by novice and seasoned gardeners alike. You would think that flowers planted in the garden would look the same as those planted in the nursery, right? Not necessarily when it comes to hydrangeas. There is a particularly scientific explanation for why hydrangeas don’t turn the color you want.
To learn more about hydrangea colors, we spoke to Mal Condon (aka “Hydrangea Guy”), a hydrangea expert at the Heritage Museums and Gardens, to find out some of the reasons why hydrangeas change color. I heard a hint from On how to actually get the color flowers you want.
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What colors are possible?
Hydrangea flowers come in many shapes, colors and sizes. The most common colors are pink, blue, and purple, but hydrangea flowers can also be red, white, and green.
With more than 50 years of experience working with hydrangeas, Condon is often asked why his hydrangeas aren’t blooming the color he intended. Here’s what he has to say.
What is the color change?
You might want a particular color of hydrangea, such as raspberry red or bright blue, but it’s really up to you. Depends on available aluminum.
Many resources say that hydrangea color depends on soil pH, but that’s not the case. very truth.
“A lot of people talk about pH, and it’s important, but the first requirement for a soil is that it needs aluminum,” Condon said. By the way, hydrangeas, especially shiso leaves and serrata, are tolerant of small amounts of aluminum, which makes us blue.”
Hydrangea acts like a mood ring that signals the condition of the soil in your garden. Generally speaking, high aluminum produces blue flowers, but soils with little or no aluminum produce more pink or red flowers. explains the need for soils with significantly higher acidity, lower than
Alkaline soils above pH 7.0 produce pink or red flowers, while neutral soils between pH 6.0 and 6.2 produce white hydrangeas.
Can I change the color of the hydrangeas?
Hydrangea is unique in that, unlike most other plant and flower varieties, the slightest chemical action changes the color of its flowers.
The easiest way to acidify the soil and make the flowers blue is to use aluminum sulfate, which can be found at almost any garden center. I explained that the trick is to use 1 tablespoon of watering can to 1 cup of water and apply it as a drench.
“The reason we do this is that we can expose the plants to too much acidity,” Condon said. can block the growth process of the plant and even kill the plant.
For pink blooms, apply a high-phosphorus fertilizer to reduce aluminum absorption, or garden lime (an all-natural plant supplement formulated to raise the pH of the soil and turn the hydrangea more pink). will be applied.
Condon said the best practice when changing hydrangea colors is to be patient – don’t be overzealous. He recommends adding material to the soil only twice a year. increase. “It’s not something you want to be crazy about,” he said.
For more information on hydrangeas, see Condon’s Hydrangea Care Tips.