Many of you who lost established and mature plants during the bad winters of 2009/10 will now have come to appreciate the benefits of weather hardy reliable plants.
One such plant is Hydrangea macrophylla the common hydrangea seen in most gardens throughout the country. Valued for its late summer flowers, hydrangeas are versatile shrubs that thrive in a variety of situations, they make excellent border plants, are good coastal plants as they can take strong winds, they will also strive as container plants on the patio. They are deciduous bushy shrubs that are frost hardy and grow to 1.5 -2.m (5-6 feet) height.
There are two basic types of flower, The Lacecap and Mophead.
Lacecap flowerheads are flat and lacy, surrounded by a few florets.
Mophead flowerheads also called Hortensias,have large domes composed entirely of florets.
They come in a range of colours from white through pink, red and purple and blue. Flower colour is determined by the PH of the soil, whether it is slightly more alkaline or acidic. A plant that bears blue flowers on acid soil may have pink ones on neutral or alkaline soil, while red flowers on alkaline soil may turn out pale blue on acid soil. Plants that have white flowers remain unchanged. If you want to grow blue flowers on alkaline soil (limey) add ericaceous compost to the hole when planting and feed with ericaceous feed during the growing season. To stop red varieties turning blue on acid soil, sprinkle the soil with ground limestone. A more fool proof method of keeping the flower colour you want is to plant in containers using the required compost.
The Pavilion Garden Centre Cork, recommend the following planting & care guidelines:
Site demands: plant in moist well drained soil, in full sun or partial shace.
Planting practice: plants in pots can be planted at any time of year, remember to keep well watered in summer, especially new plants in their first year. Feed with a good fertiliser such as Seamungus or Fish Blood and Bone in spring.
Flowering time: mid to late autumn.
Pruning needs: leave the dead flowerheads on the the plant over winter to protect against frost and as shelter for wildlife. Remove at the end of February (depending on weather conditions) cutting just above a strong bud. Weak and spindly shoots can also be removed at this time.
Pests and diseases: generally trouble free.
Bonus points: tough and easy to grow with long lived blooms
Our favourites to be found at the Pavilion Garden Centre:
Is a vigerous plant with large white mop head flowerheads.
It has green leaves with a red tinge through them and pink lacecap flowheads.
Is a mophead with dense flowers of rich blue.