Year of Grace, Day 175. A symphony of hydrangeas

Three years ago I bought 3 hydrangeas — 2 blue mopheads and 1 peegee (Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora – thus “p.g.”) Limelight. I potted them in acidic soil, hoping thereby to keep them blue. Below you can see the yellow bags of Rhododendronerde, ‘soil for Rhododendrons.’ I used 90-liter tubs to plant the hydrangeas in, instead of direct planting in the ground, as additional precaution to maintain blueness.The hydrangeas made spectacular growth; however two years later, the flowers were no longer totally blue, as you can see below.

So starting in April this year, I watered them with a blueing agent — aluminium sulphate/aluminum sulfate — every two weeks but no more than ten times per season, as advised on the container. Curious as to its efficacy,  I monitored the blooms, from the first tight buds to the eventual colouring of the sepals, which start out  as bright lime green.

The hydrangea is not a real flower as such: it has sepals, not petals; the “buttons” in the centre are the actual flowers.  The  sepals change from lime green to the palest of greens, then to white or a soft yellow. Despite the blueing, the first blooms were pink.

Nachtigal blue hydrangea first flwr showing pink_0937

Later to my relief did come some blue.

Then came some with a curious mixture of mauve suffused with blue.

Nachtigal hydrangea first sepals purple_0866

It is fascinating that the same plant displays such a symphony of colours — from lime green to the softest whites and pale yellows to tender pink and mauve, blue, and purple. Sunlight no doubt plays a part — those branches in more shade from the yew trees above having the gentlest of colours.

As well, age might have an influence, with the younger branches taking up the blueing more eagerly. This is just a surmise — if so, then next year’s blooms should be bluer.

NACHTIGAL same plant range of colors xlnt_1058A cutting that I had taken from the original plant and rooted in regular potting soil (non-acidic) bloomed a pale pink, with lovely lime green centres.

Compare this with the pinky mauve ones growing on acidic soil with blueing added.

NACHTIGAL hydrangea pink to purple heads xlnt_1029I have another hydrangea, which I suspect is a Preziosa, though not certain, and its bloom is a bright cerise.

Should I give this beauty some blueing next spring? I cannot wait to find out, though I do love this extraordinary colour.

I rather love this amazing diversity of colours. How about you? Which do you prefer?

Ah… Nature  —  the Supreme Colourist!

2 thoughts on “Year of Grace, Day 175. A symphony of hydrangeas

  1. Thanks for the link, Murasaki Shikibu. It does mention that chicken manure-based fertiliser with its high phosphate content may be affecting the uptake of the aluminium ions in the blueing agent. I shall have to check out hydrangea-specific fertilisers here. One thing I did notice is that the cutting that I rooted in non-acidic soil and did not get any fertiliser is a clear pink, unsullied by any purple cast. Interesting.


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