Hydrangea is a class of 70–75 species of flowering plants native to Asia and the Americas. Most are shrubs that grow to be 1 to 3 yards tall, but some are small trees, while others can reach up to almost 100 ft by climbing up trees. They can be either deciduous or evergreen.
A Japanese legend associated hydrangeas with heartfelt emotion, gratitude for understanding, and apology. It seems a Japanese emperor felt guilty about neglecting the woman he loved in favor of business matters. He gave hydrangeas to the family of his beloved in his quest for forgiveness for his actions.
THE MEANING OF HYDRANGEA
The word hydrangea comes from the Greek words hydro (water) and angeion (vessel). Like the name suggests, these plants love their water! They need constantly moist soil to be at their best, and absolutely no bone-dry soil. The best thing about watering though? You can tell pretty easily what a hydrangea needs. Check the soil, and if it’s still moist, don’t water. Overwatering does just as much damage as allowing them to dry out.
There’s a few other things you can check for: if they’re brown around the edges, your soil probably isn’t draining too well, meaning they are getting too much water. If you’re getting rust on the leaves, you might be watering over the top of the plant; hydrangea prefer the water down near the base.
What do the colors represent?
Pink hydrangeas generally mean, “You are the beat of my heart,” as described by a celebrated Asian florist. He was quoted as saying, “… The light delicate blush of the petals reminds me of a beating heart, while the size could only match the heart of the sender…” As a result, today in Asia, pink hydrangeas can also signify heartfelt emotion.
The French make a different association. The plant blooms in June when the weather is bright and sunny. Because of soil chemistry, pink is the dominant color. The color and nice weather symbolize a “cheerful woman.”
A blue hydrangea in Asian culture represents perseverance. That meaning derives from the “persevering love” displayed by a German horticulturist. In the 19th century, he was exiled from Japan and took a blue-flowered hydrangea back to Europe to propagate. It was his way of remembering the “persevering love” for the woman he left behind.
On the other hand, there’s another British meaning: you might give or send a blue hydrangea to refuse a love interest.
In Victorian times, the lavish, rounded shape of the white hydrangea flower was often connected to vanity and boastfulness.
Keep in mind, though, a white flower of any sort is still believed to signify purity and grace everywhere.
A desire to deeply understand you is associated with the gift of a purple hydrangea.
Why use hydrangeas in your garden
One of the biggest reasons why people plant hydrangeas is that they are relatively low maintenance throughout their impressive bloom seasons. They add great shape to your landscape, but they don’t require careful attention to do so. Low-maintenance does not mean no-maintenance, however, and there are a few things you can do right now to make sure you season stays strong.
Clean up the display and promote new growth. Deadheading is simply removing any spent blooms. It’s not necessary on hydrangeas, and in the later season flushes, some gardeners leave the dried flower heads to provide architectural interest through winter. However, many gardeners deadhead to clean up the display, promote new growth and allow for good airflow.
Actual pruning should only happen at certain times of year. Just use your pruning sheers to snip the stem of a faded flower right below the flower head. Occasionally you’ll notice some stems are completely finished. Break off these pale stems, and you’ll notice they have no trace of green left inside. These can be taken all the way to the ground to improve airflow around your hydrangea.
Cutting hydrangeas for bouquets
Make the most of your blooming hydrangeas with some fresh-cut arrangements. With hydrangeas, you only need one or two flower heads in a mason jar or pitcher. When done right, hydrangea cut flowers can last around 2 weeks in the vase.
However, hydrangeas produce this thick sap, which can impede water intake and cause them to wilt, so they’ll need a little prep before their performance.
How to create a hydrangea bouquet:
- Wash your vase out with soapy water and put cool water into it. Add 1 Tbsp of regular, granulated sugar in a bleached vase (if it’s not bleached, the sugar will feed bad bacteria).
- Bring a bucket of room-temperature water to the garden with you. Cut the stems extra long and at an angle, and put them into that bucket immediately.
- Cut off all lower leaves — leaves are very thirsty, so they’ll hog water and energy.
- You’ll want to do something to remove the sap and bacteria from the end of the stems. Cut the stem again to the length you’d prefer and crush the end a little bit to open it up. Put that end in boiling water for a minute. This removes the sap and bacteria that would clog up your stems. Once dipped, put it immediately into your prepared vase.
- Display it in a cooler space for a longer vase life.
- Re-cut stems periodically and change the water every other day to keep the display looking fresh and performing its best as long as possible.
Hydrangea flowers, when cut, dehydrate easily and wilt very fast due to the large surface area of the petals. A wilted hydrangea may have its hydration restored by first having its stem immersed in boiling water; as the petals of the hydrangea can also absorb water, the petals may then be immersed, in room-temperature water, to restore the flower’s hydration.
The dried bouquet:
Dried hydrangea flower arrangements can last months. They’re unique and memorable as interior décor, and they’ll give a sort of vintage feel to the room. You can also use dried hydrangeas in a seasonal wreath.
However, if you’re planning on dried hydrangeas this year, you can wait a little longer. They really should be picked closer to the end of August when they’ve had some time to dry on the stem first.
Some choose to pick hydrangeas for drying when they have some of their color from the season left, others let them dry into their fall tones first. The fall bloom tends not to last as long, but you can simply pick it, strip the leaves and arrange it in an empty vase. If you pick earlier, you’ll want to strip the leaves and fill a vase so ½ the stem is submerged in water. Let the water evaporate naturally, which takes about 2-3 weeks, and you’ll have colorful, dried hydrangea blooms to decorate with.