Hydrangea, sometimes known as hortensia, is a genus comprising 70 to 75 species of flowering plants native to Asia and the Americas. Eastern Asia, particularly China, Korea, and Japan, has by far the highest diversity of hydrangea species. Hydrangea is derived from the Greek words hydor which means water and angos which means a vessel, which basically translates to water barrel when put together.
This is because hydrangeas are known for needing a lot of water, and the cup-like form of their seed capsules. Hortensia is a Latinized form of the French given name Hortense, commemorating French astronomer and mathematician Nicole-Reine Hortense Lepaute. The hydrangea, which blooms in the spring and summer, is classified as a shrub. Most are shrubs 1 to 3 meters tall, but some are tiny trees, and some are lianas that grow up trees to reach heights of up to 30 meters. They can be deciduous or evergreen, but the temperate species that are commonly grown are all deciduous.
This plant is well-known for its exquisite blooms. From early spring through late autumn, most put on a spectacular show. Hydrangeas thrive in a variety of settings, including group plantings, shrub borders, and containers. There is also an abundant variety of hydrangeas, the range of bloom size and colour are boundless. The blooms of most species are white, although other species, such as H. macrophylla, can have blue, red, pink, light purple, or dark purple flowers. The presence of aluminium ions, which are present depending on the soil pH, causes flower colour change in some plants. The ability of hydrangea to become blue or pink is also impacted by the variety. Some plants are grown and chosen for their capacity to turn blue, while others are produced and chosen for their pink, red, or white colour. For example, the flower colour of H. macrophylla and H. serrata cultivars is determined by the soil’s relative acidity. Acidic soil with a pH below 7 will have accessible aluminium ions, resulting in blue to purple flowers, whereas an alkaline soil with a pH above 7 will tie up aluminium ions, resulting in red or pink flowers. This is due to a change in the hue of floral pigments in the presence of aluminium ions, which can be absorbed by hyperaccumulating plants.
Hydrangeas are popular decorative plants planted for their huge flower heads. Hydrangea macrophylla is by far the most frequently grown, with over 600 recognized varieties, many of which contain just large sterile blooms in the flowerheads. Bigleaf hydrangea, commonly known as Hydrangea macrophylla, is divided into two types which are mophead hydrangea and lace cap hydrangea. The exquisite hydrangea plants are easy to maintain, endure nearly any soil, and produce numerous blooms, making them unrivalled in the shrub world for gorgeous blossoms.
Although hydrangeas come in a variety of colours and shapes, they generally can be grown in full sun or moderate shade. Bear in mind, that many hydrangeas dislike being in direct sunlight, so try to plant them where they can get some shade. This is particularly true for easily wilting hydrangeas like the Bigleaf hydrangea (H. macrophylla). The majority of hydrangeas grow on rich, well-draining soils with sufficient moisture. If your soil is poor, adding compost is a great way to improve the quality of your soil. The optimum time to grow hydrangeas is in the fall, followed by early spring. The purpose is to allow the shrub plenty of time to develop a strong root system before it blooms. Avoid planting immediately beneath trees, since this might result in water and nutrient competition. Heavy winds may also shred and harm foliage, or even kill the flowers. Depending on the variety, make sure to space hydrangeas anywhere from 3 to 10 feet apart.
Make sure hydrangeas get enough water for the first year or two after planting, including during unexpected droughts. Throughout the growing season, it is recommended to water at a rate of 1 inch per week. It’s preferable to water deeply three times a week than to water shallowly because it stimulates root development. Bigleaf and smooth hydrangeas demand more water, although constant moisture is beneficial to all types. Hydrangeas can also benefit from a fertilizer boost once or twice a year in the spring and summer. Use a soil test to evaluate your plant’s fertility needs, since each variety has distinct needs and will benefit from various application times. Hydrangeas may also be easily transplanted, but only during their dormancy in the fall or winter. Dig up the entire root ball and replant as soon as possible. Because blooms are generated on fresh growth, hydrangeas should be pruned once they have finished flowering. Because there are so many different varieties of hydrangeas, their pruning and care may vary slightly. Pruning the hydrangea vine or climbing hydrangea (H. anomala) is not generally necessary, although it can be done to keep the new shoots in check.
Hydrangea Meaning and Significance
The hydrangea is a flower that symbolizes appreciation, elegance, and beauty. Because of the large number of blooms and the generous round form, it also expresses abundance. Its range of colours represents love, peace, and harmony. The flower colours, symbolism, and shapes also naturally lean towards floral arrangements for weddings, birthdays, and memorial bouquets.
Pink hydrangeas have become increasingly popular across the world, particularly in Asia. Pink hydrangeas are commonly associated with the statement “you are the beat of my heart,” as expressed by renowned Asian florist Tan Jun Yong. Hydrangea serrata is used to make herbal teas called sugukcha or isulcha in Korea. Another herbal tea prepared from Hydrangea serrata, whose leaves contain a chemical that produces a sweet flavour, is ama-cha, which means sweet tea in Japanese. Fresh leaves are crumpled, steamed, and dried to produce dark brown tea leaves for the best flavour. Hydrangea also holds some significance beyond Asia, In 1999, the Hydrangea quercifolia was named Alabama’s official state wildflower.