Garden Tales: The Hydrangea
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?
- Hydrangea paniculata - PeeGee Hydrangea
Hydrangea paniculata - PeeGee Hydrangea