I thought I’d document a few of the scenes from the summer yard. Below is a pic of my hydrangea. This is the third summer that we’ve had it. When I bought it in summer 2004, it had 3 blossoms. Last summer, it was down to 2 and I was extremely disappointed. This summer, I counted 31 blossoms! Maybe it’s the large amount of rain we’ve had, or our mild winter; whatever the reason I’m very happy with the bloom quantity and quality!
There are several types of hydrangeas; this one is Hydrangea macrophylla, commonly called big-leaf or French hydrangea. Hydrangeas like acid soil; the more acid the soil, the bluer the flower. Alkaline soil causes hydrangea to produce pink flowers.
There are two groups of cultivars for Hydrangea macrophylla, hortensias and lacecaps. Mine is a hortensia–they typically have large, heavy, showy flowers. The blossoms of lacecaps aren’t as showy and big. This particular cultivar is called Nikko Blue.
French hydrangeas like soil with a lot of organic matter, and they respond well to a few fertilizer applications during the summer. I use Espoma’s Holly Tone, an organic fertilizer for acid loving plants. They like morning sun and afternoon shade; they wilt easily in the summer.
This type of hydrangea typically needs a lot of water, because it has such big leaves. They need plenty of water, so keep it mulched (to help keep the soil moist) and plan to water thoroughly at least once per week. I actually water mine more frequently–on hot afternoons it can look very sad.
If hydrangeas fail to bloom, often it’s caused by winter injury. Maybe that’s why mine had only a few blossoms in previous years and so many this year–we had a relatively mild winter. It also blooms less if its site is too shady, the soil too infertile, or if too much nitrogen fertilizer is used.
Diseases to be on the lookout for include leaf spots and powdery mildew. Insects that bother it include aphids, rose chafers and red spiders.