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Blooming Plants
  Blooming Plant of the Month

Botanical Name
Hydrangea macrophylla (hy-DRAN-jee-a mac-ro-FY-la )
Hydrangeas are popular blooming plants grown for their small, star-shaped flowers, which are packed closely together to form rounded or pyramidal heads that are often up to 6 inches across. The showy parts of the flowers are sepals, not petals. The major group of Hydrangea macrophyllas, “hortensias,” have “mophead” flowerheads, with densely massed sterile florets. A smaller group are the “lacecaps,” with a ring of sterile florets surrounding tiny fertile flowers.
Hydrangeas are available in white, pink, blue, lilac, green and red/brown. The color of Hydrangeas can be controlled sometimes by additives to the soil. Flowers are blue if grown in acidic soil and pink if the soil is near neutral. The color of white flowers can’t be changed. Many new varieties are bred for their color and cannot be changed.
Decorative Life
Hydrangea plants will remain in bloom for several weeks, with each flower head lasting from 15 to 20 days, depending on location and care.
Hydrangea plants are readily available during the spring holidays—Easter through Mother’s Day. They can be purchased year-round in many areas.

1 Upon arrival, remove the plants from the shipping boxes by grasping their protective sleeves and lifting the plants out.
2 Carefully remove each sleeve by tearing upward along the seam upward from the bottom.
3 Inspect plant variety, size, color, and quality.
4 Remove any damaged stems, leaves, and blooms.
5 Inspect each plant for disease or damage. Isolate diseased or damaged plants, and report them to the grower or buying office immediately.
6 Determine water needs by pressing a finger into the soil or testing with a moisture meter.
7 Water each plant, as necessary, with room-temperature water, and allow excess water to drain from each pot.
8 Dress plants with decorative pot covers, foil/cellophane treatments, ribbon, and/or picks; price them; and place them into your displays.

In-store care
Hydrangeas require high light levels of 200 foot-candles to do well indoors. A sunny window is the best location, but avoid direct sun, which will fade or burn the flowers.
Hydrangeas can be stored in floral refrigerators at 35 F for up to four days. Storage for longer periods may affect shelf life.
Do not allow Hydrangea plants to dry out because wilting will reduce longevity. Submerge the pots in room-temperature water until completely saturated, then allow to stand until all dripping has stopped. Do not allow the plants to remain in standing water, or root rot may result.
Hydrangeas like cool temperatures. Move the plants to a cool area at night (50 F to 60 F), to increase the lasting quality.

Hydrangeas may exhibit flower shattering when exposed to ethylene gas. Anti-ethylene products can be applied at the grower level; consult with your supplier about whether this has been done.
Snails, slugs and aphids are the most common pests on Hydrangeas.

Quality Checklist
Hydrangea plants are ready for shipping and/or sales when at least 75 percent of the flowers are open and showing color.
When plants arrive, check for signs of wilt, rot or mold.

After the plants have finished flowering, advise customers to move the pots outside and plant them into the ground where they get full morning sun and light shade during the afternoon. They should water the plants regularly and fertilize them with a liquid fertilizer about every two weeks. For extra large flower heads, tell customers to allow only about three stems to develop. They should remove extra shoots from the centers of the plants and lift the pots occasionally to keep roots in the pots.
To rebloom Hydrangeas indoors, tell customers to cut back the shoots after plants have finished flowering so that two nodes or pairs of leaves are left on each shoot. They should repot plants in a mixture of equal parts of soil and peat moss. Advise customers to grow plants in south-facing windows.
If large amounts of Hydrangea bark, leaves or flower buds are ingested, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and sweating may occur.

Fun Facts

Hydrangea comes from the Greek words “hydro” (water) and “aggos” (jar). The name refers to the fruits of the plant, which are cup shaped, and to its requirement for lots of water. The name “macrophylla” means large leafed.
Formerly included in the Saxifragaceae (saxifrage) family, Hydrangeas have been reclassified into the Hydrangeaceae family. There are 17 genera, 170 species and more than 400 cultivars of Hydrangeas. Relatives include Astilbe and Viburnum.
Hydrangeas are native to Japan and Korea as well as the eastern United States as far south as Florida. They thrive in woodlands and on riverbanks.
Hydrangea heads and florets are great for pressing, freeze drying or air drying.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology lists Hydrangea as an allergy-safe pollen-producing plant.
You can reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD,
at or by phone (415) 239-3140.

Images courtesy of Bay City Flower Company, Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Some information provided by:
Bay City Flower Company, Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Chain of Life NetworkÆ,
SAF’s Flower & Plant Care manual

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