Hydrangeas are a wonderful plant that can give a garden a lot of color. The hydrangea originated out of Japan and was discovered there and brought back to the western world during the mid 18th century. There are five main species but one is more common then the rest, hydrangea macrophylla. They like to be in a part sun/shade area of the garden. Hydrangeas are a flowering shrub, which flowers through the spring, summer, and into the autumn. The color of the flower is dependent on the type of soil. Soil rich in alkaline will produce pink flowers and acidic soil will produce blue flowers. The common species that most gardens contain is hydrangea macrophylla. The common name is Bigleaf of French hydrangea. There also other types of hydrangeas found in gardens: hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf), hydrangea arborescens (Smooth or Annabelle), hydrangea paniculata (Grandiflora or Peegee), and hydrangea anomola petiolaris (Climbing hydrangea).
Out of all the species of hydrangeas the three common colors of flowers are: white, pink, and blue. They do come in lavender, or lilac color, a deep red/brown, and a light green. The flower blossom is a collection of small flowers about a quarter in size that bloom in a cluster. They can have three basic shapes to the clusters: mophead which is round and shaped like a sphere, lacecap which is more of a flat shape with blossoms blooming around the edge, and panicle which has more of a cone shape to the flower. They make great cut flowers and can last up to a week in a vase. As you cut the flower stems the hydrangea will produce flowers. Make sure you prune those stems back to ensure that the shrub blooms again.
Hydrangeas like to be in a partial sun and shade area of the garden. They do not like the heat of the afternoon and like to be protected by the shade. They love water so be prepared to keep them wet. The flowering season is from the spring to the autumn and need to be pruned back in the autumn. If you want for flowers to bloom you should prune the stems to be about 6-12" from the ground. In the in the early spring add compost and humus to the soil and the type of fertilizer you want to determine the color of the flower. I have some of my hydrangeas next to azaleas and rhododendrons which like acidic soil. This gives the flower a blue color. The color is determined by the amount of aluminum that is in the soil. You can apply aluminum sulfate in the spring and keep the pH around 5 and 5.5. For the beautiful pink flowers you want a more alkaline soil mixture so liming the soil will change the pH to 6 and give you the pink color.
Hydrangeas can grow up to 6 feet high and wide; they are bushy and have woody stems. As the new grow emerges stake the stems of the flowers and needed otherwise let them grow and enjoy. As the seasons progress keep the hydrangea well fertilized with a general fertilizer 10 10 10. You must always water after applying fertilizer so that it reaches the soil. To propagate the plant you need to have a small trench next to the plant. Then remove a little of the bark and lay it in the ground and cover it with soil. Make sure that the tip of growth is uncovered and it will root under the soil.