Plants Management AustraliaHydrangeas – nanna, or not?

Hydrangeas are making a comeback at the moment and the sight of them may prompt you to reminisce that ‘my nanna always had hydrangeas!” Many people equate them with plants their grandmother grew – there’s just something about the flower heads that remind us of old-fashioned powder puffs and those hydrangeas that grew along the shady side of the old house.

Hydrangea You&Me in pots

Hydrangea You&Me in pots

As we all know, plants often come and go just like fashion. Whilst hydrangeas were big in the sixties and seventies, they never really went completely ‘out’, they just baselined, and the most reliable varieties remained constant. However in the past year numbers have been climbing again. Breeders have been hard at work on this genus, and growers are excited about a resurgence in popularity for these charmers.

Hydrangea You&Me acid soil blue colour

Hydrangea You&Me acid soil blue colour

PMA works with 2 Hydrangea collections. One is the You and Me collection which comes from a Hydrangea breeder in Japan. Ryoji Irie loves to work with colour and has spent a great deal of his time developing a great range of colours in this collection. It offers a complete spectrum from pastel pinks, lilacs and clues through to deeper and bright shades. An added bonus of this collection is that varieties can withstand higher temperatures. The You and Me Collection is also frost tolerant and easy to grow. It has been a staple on the market for quite a few years now and each of the varieties have romantic names such as ‘Desire’, Romance’ and ‘Forever.’

Hydrangea You&Me flower colours

Hydrangea You&Me flower colours

Hydrangea You&Me neutral soil lilac flowers

Hydrangea You&Me neutral soil lilac flowers

Hydrangea Obsidian Collection White Knight

Hydrangea Obsidian Collection White Knight

Over the past 3 years we have been trialling the new Obsidian Collection. This includes 3 varieties which come from different breeders. The key difference here is the unique black stems – these add a real element of contrast in the garden and also indoors if you want to use them as a cut flower. They are also frost hardy and tolerant of high temperatures. ‘White Knight’ has beautiful mop top flower heads, ‘Black Lace’ is a lace cap selection with pink, blue or mauve flowers and ‘Storm Cloud’ rewards with blue or mauve mop tops very large in size.

Hydrangea Obsidian Collection, showing the black stems

Hydrangea Obsidian Collection, showing the black stems

Of course, the flower colour of some hydrangeas can vary according to the pH of the soil. For blue flowers grow your hydrangeas in an acidic soil and fertilise with aluminium sulphate. If you prefer pinks, you’ll need an alkaline soil and add lime. White hydrangeas are less common, and remain white regardless of the soil pH.

Hydrangea White Knight

Hydrangea White Knight

Overall hydrangeas are surprisingly tough and can survive in a wide range of locations. They do have fibrous roots however that are close to the surface so it’s a good idea to provide some mulch. I think their best claim to fame is their hardy nature and showy displays of large flower heads. They are a great choice for shady spots – which nanna obviously worked out quickly as the side of the house was like a magic garden.

To care for all these hydrangeas – keep them in a moist soil. Prune back to 1/3 of their size during winter and feed in spring with a slow release fertiliser for best results.

So what do you think – nanna or not?

[This post brought to you by Plants Management Australia]

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Plants Management Australia

About Plants Management Australia

Plants Management Australia is an Australian based licensing and marketing company which manages the protection and introduction of new plant varieties across the globe. PMA represents the interests of independent breeders, providing professional management for new varieties and quality, transparent service.

5 thoughts on “Hydrangeas – nanna, or not?

  1. Hi Amanda
    thanks for an enjoyable read ! To me the old – style pink and blue ones scream ‘NANA’ whilst the the Paniculata cultivars like ‘Limelight’ have a much more contemporary feel about them. I am so glad there is renewed interest in these much neglected plants !

  2. Great read thanks Amanda.

    I’m in total denial. I never believed hydrangeas were out of fashion – how could a plant so giving not be loved by everyone?!

    Interestingly – in South America, where I’ve just been visiting gardens – everyone calls them hortensia – and in many gardens they keep flowering all year as they don’t have such defined seasons. I actually love their seasonal changes here – and especially in colder areas where the colours are fabulous in autumn.

    And of course in New Zealand – they grow hydrangeas that are shamelessly deep electric blue, and really deep crimson – almost purple. Breathtaking!

    It’s wonderful to see all the hybrids coming through. But you can see I’m a sucker.

  3. Hey Amanda great to read your story. We have Mal Condon coming out from Nantuckett next year to speak specially at the Collectors’ Plant Fair at Clarendon NSW. see http://www.collectorsplantfair.com
    Mal runs The Hydrangea Farm there and is a real expert. We plan to have as many Hydrangeas from the National Collection that we can on display. No doubt your varieties will be included. Love the sound of the Obsidian varieties. Since getting to know Mal I’ve started to become far more aware of these beautiful shrubs that do so well in many parts of Australia. Nana or not I love them.
    Peta Trahar

  4. Great to hear that it’s not just me that likes them!
    I have read about Mal’s Hydrangea Farm. I’m sure his visit will be beneficial for all involved – it’s always great to have the experts to learn more from and to share experiences with.

  5. Liz on said:

    Definitely not ‘nanna’ in my opinion! I’ve always loved them, but have never grown them. This article makes me think I might just have a spot there in front of the house …

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