If ever there were two easy going dependables in a garden they are Heucheras and Hydrangeas.
Let’s take a look and see why this is the case:
Heucheras, also known as ‘Coral Bells’ are hardy little stalwarts with fabulous foliage that makes them perfect borders, containers, hanging baskets, under trees or anywhere where you need a little colour without the fuss of flowers. They are great in flower arrangements and last longer than flowers! There are over 50 varieties although only a few are available commercially and those are mostly hybrids.
They grow with virtually no help and are drought resistant. They’re perfect for novice gardeners as they’ll survive an amazing amount of neglect. In addition, they come in a number of varieties and colours allowing you to create an interesting collage just with Heucheras if you choose. They grow to between 12″ and 26″ high and spread about 18″ wide, preferring part shade and woodland conditions.
They develop interesting, delicate sprays of flowers during late Spring, early Summer. Best of all, they maintain a gorgeous display of colorful foliage even into the early Winter. Over Winter they may die down a little, but as soon as it begins to warm up, they’ll fill out again providing months of showy colour.
Heucheras also attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
We have some beautiful varieties in stock right now, so pop in and take a look.
From very small shrubs to vines and large shrubs or tree like there is one for every size garden and with some for sun, shade, moist and dry soil, hot and cold, you are sure to find the perfect addition for your garden.
Sun or Shade?
hydrangeas are naturally woodland plants and most but not all like to be sheltered from hot afternoon sun. Hugh cover of trees with dappled shade is ideal as well as the north side of houses or walls. Full sun can bleach out the colour of the flowers and scorch the leaves, especially some of the more tender Japanese serrata varieties. Plants grown in some shade seem to glow under the canopy of larger trees.
Some cultivators do prefer a little more sun, in particular: Paniculata and Quercifolia. Macrophylla and Serrata varieties benefit from some shade cover.
What kind of soil should I plant my hydrangeas in?
AS a general rule hydrangeas prefer moist, humus rich soil although there are a few that will handle more drought and poor soil conditions; Aborescens, Paniculata and Quercifolia for example.
What about Cold and Wind?
The majority of macrophylla and serrata hydrangea bloom on wood produced the previous season. Flower buds are carried away through the winter and can begin to develop early in the spring ready to produce this years flowers. At this point they are very tender and can easily be destroyed by cold winter winds and late frosts. Varieties that bloom on this seasons growth are much more cold and wind tolerant. Some of these varieties include: Arborescens, Paniculata, Petiolaris, and Quercifolia.
How do I change the colour of my hydrangea?
Likely the most fascinating and commonly asked question of this plant. Only the species of the macrophylla and serrata and their cultivars is this true of. The color of hydrangeas will depend on the acidity of alkalinity of the soil.
PH of 6.5 or less – produces blue hydrangeas (however sometimes even in acidic soil the plant is unable to access aluminum in order to produce the blue desired. Adding a bluing agent such as aluminum will harm the plants roots.
As a general rule a solution of 1 1/2-3 grams of aluminum sulphate to a litre of water can be applied to 2-3 year old plants throughout the growing season.
To make the soil more alkaline just add lime or ash.
Most hydrangeas need little if any pruning. A little dead heading in the late winter of last years spend flowers is all that is needed for many varieties. In most cases, no pruning is better tan wrong pruning.
Macrophylla and Serrata: This hydrangea blooms on last years wood and therefore care should be taken to only remove spent flowers down to the first set of buds, as those buds should produce next years flowers. An occasional thinning of stems may be necessary. To do this simply cut out the oldest and spindliest twigs out of the plant to encourage new and stronger wood. If the hydrangea has to be controlled in size, I like to prune back harder the flowering stems of this year and leave the stems that did not flower this year, and so on each year. This produces some control of the size and still allows for some blooms but better yet plant a smaller variety that will not need to be pruned.
Arborescens: blooms on new wood and therefore can be pruned back each year to the ground. I prefer to leave the last years wood to harden off so that it can support the weight of the huge flowers that will be produced on this hydrangea.
Paniculata: blooms on new wood and can benefit from pruning. As a general rule let the shrub grow for 2-3 years staking the stems. After I have strong stems to a height I want then prune back up to 1/2 the new growth each year to produce more blooms.
Quercifolia: rarely needs any pruning other than to remove damaged branches or to control growth. Remembering that it blooms on last years wood you dont want to cut back too much of the plant of you will lose the bloom.
Petiolaris (climbing hydrangea): rarely need pruning other than to keep it from growing where it shouldnt be. It will quite happily climb up tall trees or climb on walls.
If you must drastically prune back a hydrangea that blooms on old wood for any reason, be it to reduce size or regenerate new growth or after damage, you can, after all fear of frosts for the season. All stems should be cut back to about a foot to a foot and a half from the ground. You will loose all flowers for the year or two but it will generat lots of new growth and flowers should appear the following year.
Best Small Cultivars:
Hydrangea Mac: Pia, Hornli, City Line Series, including: Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Venice.
Hydrangea paniculata: Bombshell and Bobo
Hydrangea serrata include many of the Japanese varieties.
Hydrangea Mac. Adria, Domotoi – usually a brilliant blue, Enziandom – considered by some to be the best. Generale Vicomtesse DE Vicraye, Nikko.
Lace caps would include: Mariesii, Eisvogel or Kingfisher.
In Japanese varieties try Izu no hana.
Hydrangea Mac. Glowing Embers, Pia, Hornli.
Lacecap varieties include: Rotdrossel and Mousmee
Japanese varieties would include Preziosa.
Hydrangea Mac: Sister Theresa
Hydrangea Abrorescens: Annabelle
Best cut Flowers:
All mophead type macrophyllas
Hydrangea arborescens: Annabelle
Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora, Webbs variety, Little Lamb and Limelight
Best for containers:
Hydrangea Mac: Endless Summer (can be controlled in size), Pia and Hornli