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Hydrangeas are commonly known as Christmas flowers in South Africa. The most popular are the big leafed French Hydrangeas and this month they are the pride of the garden as they come into full bloom. There are many varieties to choose from including the new "Endless Summer" variety that is the world’s first repeat flowering hydrangea and my new favourite as it is not without flower throughout the late summer.

 

How to care for Hydrangeas

Caring for Hydrangeas is easy. They prefer morning sun or dappled shade all day as long as they get protection from the heat of the day, in a moist but well drained soil. In autumn they turn a lovely golden yellow and then you prune them sparingly in the winter as they flower on old wood from the previous summer.

The colour of the blooms is influenced by the pH of the soil - blue if acid and pink if alkaline.  To influence the colour for blue, use Shake and Grow Blue or eggshells in the soil.  Acid Compost is also a good way to influence acid soil.  To influence pink blooms, fertilize with Shake and Grow Pink or add Agricultural lime.

All Hydrangeas appreciate a little extra effort when they are first brought home.  Although most will tolerate some neglect, they do best in a well-prepared garden bed.  Dig the hole at least 2 times the size of the original pot. Mix 1 part compost or Acid compost to the excavated soil with a handful of organic pellets, insert the plant, mound the soil slightly and soak well.

Doctor, Doctor!

Although hardy and relatively disease free there are a few things that can hamper the performance of your Hydrangeas. The most frequently asked at Eckards GP is:

Why are the new leaves on my Hydrangea yellow?

Hydrangeas are susceptible to iron chlorosis. In contrast to nitrogen deficiency, which is expressed as general yellowing of old leaves, iron chlorosis is found on new leaves where the green veins are visible on yellow leaves. Iron chlorosis can be corrected by the addition to iron to the soil. The best way to do this is to use Ferro food and you should begin seeing results in a couple of weeks. Apply the iron yearly or whenever symptoms reappear.

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