Hydrangeas are popular ornamental flowering plants, grown for their large flower heads, with Hydrangea macrophylla being by far the most widely grown.
The bloom of the Hydrangea is not a true flower, but an inflorescence: Sepals, or modified leaves, make up most of the bloom and overshadow the small, almost unnoticeable true flowers at the center. They can be either deciduous or evergreen.
Hydrangea flowers are produced from early spring to late autumn. In most species the flowers are white, but in some species (notably H. macrophylla), can be blue, red, pink, light purple, or dark purple. The cultivated hydrangeas have been bred and selected to have more of the larger type flowers.
Unlike most flowers, lacecap and mophead hydrangeas (H. macrophyllas) can change colors. There are two factors that affect flower color of hydrangeas: the amount of light the plant receives and the pH of the soil.
In these species, the color is affected by the presence of Aluminium ions which are available or tied up depending upon the soil pH. For H. macrophylla and H. serrata cultivars, the flower color can be determined by the relative acidity of the soil.
An acidic soil (pH below 7), will have available aluminum ions and typically produce flowers that are blue to purple, whereas an alkaline soil (pH above 7) will tie up aluminum ions and result in pink or red flowers.
If the soil naturally contains aluminum and is acid (low pH) the color of the hydrangea will automatically tend toward shades of blue and/or purple. The flower color of most other Hydrangea species is not affected by aluminum and cannot be changed or shifted.
To lower your pH, add garden sulfur or aluminum sulfate to your soil. Another method for lowering the pH is to add organic matter to the soil such as coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings etc. To raise the pH, use ground lime. Generally, soil-less mixtures would probably not have aluminum in them.
So, if you want to maintain the color then keep the pH neutral. For this, you can test your soil with the help of litmus paper or from nearby soil testing labs. The color difference will vary according to the various conditions, mostly the soil pH.
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In general use, a soil-based compost placed over a generous layer of drainage material such as earthenware crocks, pebbles or gravel. Water and feed regularly, especially while plants are bearing flowers and fruit when a high-potash fertilizer is recommended.
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