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Garden Tales: The Hydrangea

Updated on June 28, 2009
courtesy tatteralan, flickr
courtesy tatteralan, flickr



turning blur

two plus

Hydrangeas were not a flower of my youth, my parents nor my grandmothers grew them. In fact, I did not become familiar with this shrub until about ten years ago.

Naturally, I had seen them around, guarding the front steps to houses adorning the foundations and demanding attention in both front and backyards, but I had never really gotten to know them until I was visiting a fried for a few days.

She was not a gardener but there was a magnificent hydrangea growing on the side of her house. I had been there when she bought the place and came back every year. Now that is my kind of plant, on top of that the blossoms were gorgeous and, as I later found out, they make a great dried flower.

The hydrangea whether freshly picked or dried will last for quite sometime. There is a trick, though; you must harvest the flower at just the right moment.

In mild zones, late August is ideal, in colder climates, such as here on the east coast you do best to pick them towards the end of September.

The hydrangea that is plucked before its time will shrivel and die. How do you know what it is time to pick them; take a good look at the flower head. Are the petals firm? Is the floret open? If the answer to both these questions is yes, then it is time to harvest.

To dry the hydrangea blossoms you can hang them by bundling three or four stems together and place them upside down in a dry, dark and warm palce. It will take no more than five days for the flowers to be ready for you to use.

Perhaps, the best known hydrangea is the Big-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla). The colour of the blooms will depend upon the soil, alkaline soils produce pink flowers and acidic soils, blue. Blue appears to be the most popular.

The Peegee hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) may get tall and weedy and is a native of Asia. However, it is a drought tolerant choice and a tough, dependable plant. On the down side it has brittle stems; can be easily wind damaged.

In plant folklore the hydrangea stands for friendship, devotion, and understanding.

Native Americans used the hydrangea root as a diuretic and detoxifier. The bark of the hydrangea was used to ease muscle sprains and burns.

Folklore says if a witch put a curse on an unlucky man or woman the hydrangea could be used to break the curse.

So which hydrangea is for you?


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  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Good story, thanks.

  • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

    Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

    I remember our horticulture teacher at school telling us a wonderful true story about a pupil who bet his Dad £10 that he could turn their pink Hydrangea blue. The Dad took on the bet, so the son then buried  loads of iron nails at the base of the plant. As they rusted, sure enough, the pink Hydrangea turned blue, and the Father had to pay up on the bet. Well worth trying as it will work to this day, even if you just use iron filings instead of nails!

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Blue is a great colour to work with in a garden design; thanks for dropping by.

  • Jerilee Wei profile image

    Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

    Always the blue for me. This is one of my favorite garden plants, but doesn't do well in Florida's summer heat unfortunately.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    if we all planted hydrangea, we could break this economic curse, lol. I like this idea.

    i am fond of cut flowers they brighten the indoors, thank you both for dropping by.

  • fortunerep profile image

    fortunerep 8 years ago from North Carolina

    I love these. My grandmother has several in her yard and the blooms are gorgeous. Thanks for the info about cutting them, I love cut flowers on the table.


  • Storytellersrus profile image

    Barbara 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

    I love it. These flowers are huge and gorgeous. Thanks for increasing my knowledge! If the Peegee hydrangea is drought resistant, it might work in Colorado so I guess that would be the one for me! Perhaps if we all planted hydrangea, we could break this economic curse, lol.