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  HOME AND GARDEN Ľ House Plants  

Plants for your home (By Mary Efanti)



hydrangea22.jpg (25181 bytes)Hydrangeas originate from Japan and are members of the saxifrage family. They now come in two types - "macrophylla" cultivars have sterile florets and are known as "mop-heads", while "serrata" cultivars have a centre of fertile flowers surrounded by a ring of sterile ones and are known as "lace-caps".

The name hydrangea derives from the Greek hydro "water" and aggos "a jar" referring to the cup-shaped seed pods.


It is interesting how we've come to associate certain plants with specific holidays, roses for Valentine's Day, and of course poinsettias at Christmas. And among spring flowers the hydrangea, one of the most beloved of all, is perfect for Easter and Mother's Day. Itís easy to see why we are so taken with it. They are bold, beautiful and evoke memories of our grandparentís gardens.

Hydrangeas you see in early spring for Easter and Motherís Day have been grown for florists, forced into bloom early for that special someone. Of course they can be enjoyed for years to come in the garden if cared for properly. But while you're enjoying it inside don't let the soil become dry. This can weaken the plant and even kill it if dryness is prolonged. Any grower of these will tell you that the blooms will last for a long time. Don't set them in full direct sun. You see this can cause the flowers to fade quicker and the leaves to blister.

When you plant them outside always remove the blossoms and plant them in partial shade. They are often seen planted on the north side of the house because it's cool and shady.

An interesting thing about these old-fashioned hydrangeas is the color of the bloom is dictated by the soil pH. For pink flowers you want an alkaline soil and for blue flowers you need more acidic soil. Regardless of your soil's pH you want to make sure that itís rich with humus so put some of that compost to good use. And of course you want to make sure your hydrangeas are kept consistently moist.

If you receive one of these as a gift or pick one up at the florist, give it a life long after you've enjoyed it indoors.


Mary Efanti




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