February 2021 – Hydrangea

KINGDOM: Plantae

ORDER: Comales

FAMILY: Hydrangeaceae

GENUS: Hydrangea


Flowers of the Hydrangea are produced from early spring to late autumn, when they still look wonderful faded with ‘antique-like’ characterists.

Typically, the flowerheads contain two types of flowers – small non-showy flowers in the centre or interior of the flowerhead, and large, showy flowers with large colourful sepals. 

When cutting for the vase it is suggested that you immerse the stem in boiling water to seal off the stem and immerse the whole stem (including the flower head) in room temperature water. The petals of the hydrangea also absorb water so this is the best way to ‘condition’ your blooms for the vase, or to bring back a dehydrated bloom.

It has been suggested that Hydrangea macrophylla (aka bigleaf hydrangea, French hydrangea, lacecap hydrangea, mophead hydrangea, penny mac and hortensia) should be pruned back this month. This can make those bushes carrying a lot of burnt flower-heads look much better; but if you prefer to keep the ageing flowers, wait until July before you prune them back. Note that the thin-stemmed Hydrangea types such as the ‘Endless Summer’ collection should be pruned in February to give them a longer period of time to regrow (this is the first hydrangea that blooms both on the previous year’s branches as well as the new season’s growth). This can also apply to other thin-stemmed types, such as Hydrangea serrata (these are the lacecap hydrangeas). Pruning now can free up space around the shrub so that spring flowering annuals or perennials can be introduced.

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