I'd like to introduce you to guest blogger Rebecca Hanson of Hydrangea Flower Arrangements.
Hydrangeas are gentle, sweet flowers that add a delicate touch to any flower arrangement. It is an ornamental plant that originated from the Orient and was then transported and grown in the Americas and even in the Azores islands of Portugal, particularly the Faial and Flores Islands. The beauty of hydrangeas is such that they're usually used in wedding and other floral arrangements, including hydrangea flower arrangements.
But there are a few facts about the Hydrangea that are fascinating. We picked two things for you to learn about:
Hydrangeas can change color. Hydrangeas can change from pink to blue or blue to pink, depending on the amount of aluminum in the soil. If you're wondering which is which, here's a good guide:
-- Pink Hydrangeas = Less Aluminum.
-- Blue Hydrangeas = More Aluminum.
In order to make your Hydrangeas turn PINK, you would need to keep the pH of the soil on a more basic level. Meaning, it has to have a higher pH. You can achieve this by adding dolomitic lime to your soil throughout the year. You should also use fertilizer that's higher in Phosphorus. Phosphorous prevents the hydrangea from absorbing the Aluminum in the soil. Keep the proportion at 25/10/10, with Phosphorous being the middle "10."
To make Hydrangeas turn BLUE, you'd want to add Aluminum Sulfate to the soil, as well as keep the soil's pH levels towards the acidic (5.2 to 5.5, optimally). Adding Aluminum Sulfate in itself will lower the soil's pH already, but it would be great to add organic waste material like fruit peels, vegetable peels, and even coffee grounds to lower the soil's pH to the level you need it to go. Then, in using Aluminum Sulfate, you would have to add it to water in a proportion of 1/2 oz/1 Tbsp of Aluminum Sulfate for every gallon of water. Make sure that you've watered your plants generously before you apply the Aluminum Sulfate solution, because too much of Aluminum Sulfate may burn your Hydrangea's roots.
As for fertilizer, to make your Hydrangeas turn blue, you'd need to have fertilizer that has higher amounts of Potassium and lower Phosphorous. A good proportion to work with would be 25/5/30; Potassium is the last number, "30."
Having both blue and pink Hydrangeas in your garden would come in handy, especially if you'd like to earn a little extra selling hydrangea flower arrangements. A variety of colors would be great to have in a bouquet, or even in an event's decor.
Hydrangeas are moderately toxic, but some species are consumed as tea. Hydrangeas contain cyanogenic glycosides, which is a poisonous substance that plants like Hydrangea can release when it is attacked. Other plants, even edible ones like the Cassava, have cyanogenic glycosides, and need to be prepared properly in order for the cyanogenic sugars to be destroyed and so that the plant can be eaten. The particular Hydrangea species that is used for tea is the Hydrangea serrata. In Japan, it's known as the "ama-cha," while in Korea, it is called the "sugukcha" or the "ilsulcha." It's used as a tea because it has a compound that develops a sweet taste.
As you can see, the Hydrangea is more than an excellent centerpiece for hydrangea flower arrangements. It is also a flower that has stories behind its beauty. These are the things that make a flower more beautiful.
For more care and handling tips, as well as interesting articles on hydrangea flower arrangements, head on over to Hydrangea Flower Arrangements.org.
Article by Rebecca Hanson, photos mine from my garden in July 2010.
DISCLAIMER: I am not recommending that you consume hydrangeas.