Ten things you should know about Hydrangeas
TThe Real Flower Company’s Hampshire farm is overflowing with Hydrangeas. Here are ten facts about this dramatic and spectacular flower.
1. All In The Name
The name Hydrangea is derived from the Greek hydros (water) and angos (jar) and so means ‘water vessel’. The name refers to the shape of the seed capsules, which resembles a water jug. The large, showy Hydrangea macrophylla, commonly found in English gardens, was also known as Hortensia, after 18th-century French astronomer and mathematician Hortense Lapaute.
2. Rainbow Colours
Depending on the acidity of the soil, the colour of Hydrangea flowers can change from blue to purple to pink. Adding coffee grounds, citrus peel or eggshells renders the soil more acidic and causes flowerheads to become purple, with an increase in acidity turning blooms blue.
3. Spheres and Cones
We grow two main varieties of Hydrangea that are popular with florists on our sustainable South Downs farm. Hydrangea Annabelle, in pink or white, has spherical heads formed of dramatic clusters of flowers. In Hydrangea Paniculata, which comes in pink, white or antique cream, the flowers are arranged in the form of a cone.
4.Old as Time
Ancient Hydrangea fossils dating back more than 40 million years have been discovered in North America with slightly more recent ones found in Poland. Cultivated Hydrangeas were first developed in Japan and were introduced to Europe from North America in the early 1700s.
In the Western world, Hydrangeas have been said to symbolise heartlessness, frigidity and vanity, perhaps because the plant produces many flowers but few seeds. In Victorian times it was believed that young women with Hydrangeas in their gardens would never marry. In Asia, by contrast, pink Hydrangeas mean ‘you are the beat of my heart’ and the flower is associated with understanding, emotion and apology. According to legend, a Japanese emperor gave blue Hydrangeas to the family of a girl he loved to make up for his neglect.
In Japan, a sweet tea made from Hydrangea leaves is poured over statues of the Buddha on 8 April – thought to be his birthday. The tea, Ama-cha, is a substitute for the nectar or ambrosia with which he said to have been anointed by dragons when he was born.
7. Nil by Mouth?
Hydrangeas contain cyanogenic glycoside and flowers and leaves eaten untreated can be poisonous to humans as well as to dogs, cats and horses. Ama-cha is said to help alleviate kidney stones and malaria and herbalists recommend medicines derived from the plant’s root and rhizome for the treatment of urinary tract disorders and from the bark for pain relief.
8. Popular Plants
Hydrangeas are always a favourite with our customers at The Real Flower Company and this year we have introduced two Hydrangea Boxes that give you ten Magical Fire or Vanilla Fraise Hydrangeas freshly cut on our South Downs farm. Hydrangeas also feature in our bouquets, and as summer fades the vibrant flowers of Hydrangea Paniculata change to a muted coffee blush with antique pink tips that works beautifully with our autumn colour palette.
9. Plant of the Year
Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride Snow White!’, bred by Ushio Sakazaki from Japan, was named Plant of the Year at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It has an unusual weeping habit, making it suitable for hanging baskets as well as borders, and a mass of white lacecap flowers that grow along the length of the stem, giving it the name of a garland Hydrangea.
10. Winter Wonder
Hydrangeas dry well and add texture and colour to winter arrangements and wreaths. Our dried everlasting wreath will feature hydrangeas along with other flowers and foliage grown and dried on our sustainable Hampshire farm. Hydrangeas are very thirsty plants, so you can dry them at home by leaving them in a vase with just a little water.
You can order our Hydrangea Boxes – each with ten Hydrangea stems for you to arrange at home – for next-day delivery around the UK. Our shops at Parsons Green and Chelsea Green in London offer Hydrangeas as single stems, bunches or as part of arrangements – order in person or by phone for same-day London delivery.