Hydrangea



•Water - πŸ”ΈπŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Hydrangeas love good soil moisture; hence the prefix, hydro. Only allow the top quarter of the soil to dry in between irrigations, avoiding persistent droughts. Those grown in bright locations that receive little sunlight must be monitored more frequently. Either use fresh bottled water, or tap water that has been allowed to sit for at least 24hrs before application. If possible, try not to use cold water as sudden temperature changes will result in a weakened plant. Irrigate using the bottom-up method. Although this isn't mandatory, saturating the foliage or flowers unnecessarily will cause fungal issues like botrytis and powdery mildew to develop in their cubbyholes. Place the Hydrangea on a plant saucer and fill the bottom quarter of the pot, allowing the plant to soak it thoroughly. Under-watering symptoms include rapid flower or foliar drop, stunted growth and dry crispy leaves; these issues are usually due to either forgetfulness, too much sunlight or heat. Over-watering symptoms include rotting lower leaves or flowers, yellowing leaves, a loss of buds or flowers and root rot. Allow most of the soil to dry out in between waters, and do not allow a pool of standing water accumulate beneath the pot as failure to keep its environment relatively dry will result in the diseases stated above.


•Humidity - πŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Average humidity found in the home will do perfectly. Avoid misting the flowers as excess moisture left on the intricate bodies will cause botrytis petal blight. ukhouseplants would go against placing one in a frequently used bathroom because of the combination of moist air, and potential air circulation issues could entice powdery mildew into play - try situating yours in a well-lit lounge or dining room.


•Location & Light - πŸ”ΈπŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

A bright, indirect location with no more than an hour of sunlight is perfect for growth, as anything less could cause significant issues in terms of over-watering. Leaf loss and flower loss will occur when a Hydrangea is situated in a too shady area; remember, these plants predominantly grow outside and they therefore must receive the right amount of light, heat and water. Locating a Hydrangea in strong, direct sun for more than a few hours a day will quickly burn the foliage, which will lead to the yellowing of leaves and steady decline.


•Fertilisation - πŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Feed fortnightly during the spring and summer, using either houseplant feed or a potassium-based feed during the flowering period; Streptocarpus Feed is an excellent choice for this time. A general plant fertiliser is acceptable too, but remember to dilute the solution by half to prevent the burning of roots.




Common Issues with Hydrangea

Dry soil is a big issue when cultivating Hydrangea. Although they can withstand slight droughts over time, persistent dry spells will considerably weaken the plant, potentially causing death. Stunted growth and flower loss are the typical signs of under-watering; if it doesn't bounce back after severe wilting, it may spell the end of its life. Be sure to avoid direct sunlight and potentially create a schedule if you're a forgetful gardener.

Mealybugs are also a common issue - small, white-coloured critters are most likely to infest the cubbyholes of the flowers, foliage or even the stem. Each female mealybug can lay up to six-hundred eggs in her lifetime, meaning that an infestation can be imminent. The best way to prevent an attack before it becomes a threat is by keeping the windows and doors shut, with regular pest inspections. For those that have unfortunately bitten the dust, click on this link to learn about addressing these issues.

A lack of flowers is caused by a insufficient dormancy period, served in the winter months. Locations that offer near-similar temperatures all year round won't allow the plant to go dormant, resulting in poor spring growth. To achieve, situate in a location that dips to around 12°C  (54°F) with fewer waters. Allow the majority of the compost to dry out and provide a humidity tray while the radiators are operating. While we're on the subject, if you'd like to prolong the flowering period, use a fertiliser high in potassium to promote longer-lasting flowers; Streptocarpus Food is an excellent choice. Other tips to extend this period are: avoid temperature fluctuations and droughts, maintain good humidity and place in a well-lit room with little to no direct sunlight. Read on to find out how to get a Hydrangea to reflower.

Sudden flower or leaf loss could be an array of different cultivation issues; the amount and frequency of irrigations could be to blame, as well as droughts, draughts and heat sources being the culprit. Never allow the soil of a Hydrangea to thoroughly dry out due to their poor ability to endure prolonged droughts, and that's the same for its light requirements. Situating it in full sun all-day will quickly cause the foliar to curl and potentially drop off in quick succession; if it's too hot for a chocolate bar, then it's too hot for your plant too! The final reason could be due to a fluctuation of either the surrounding temperature or humidity. Although average air moisture is more than acceptable for a Hydrangea, do not over-mist the foliage as this will only elongate the fluctuations - if you're worried about this issue, try introducing a humidity-tray. While we're on the topic of surrounding air moisture, try not to place the plant within four metres of an operating radiator as this too could cause issues!

Too much sunlight will lead to sun scorch, with typical signs including browning or crispy leaves, dry leaf-edges, sunken leaves or stunted growth. Although too little light will cause over-watering issues, too much sunlight will negatively affect the plant as well. A location that offers over two hours of sunlight a day will bring the optimum growth for the Hydrangea. If yours has fallen short of this issue, reduce the amount of direct light considerably and always be mindful of environmental shock (when too locations offer too different growing conditions). Remove some of the affected leaves and increase waters slightly. Only hydrate the plant using the bottom-up method.

As mentioned before, powdery mildew and botrytis are major threats among heavy foliage plants due to the compact nature that aids the spread of the diseases. Watering above the foliage will allow excess moisture to sit in the cubbyholes of the stem, enticing harmful bacteria to thrive. Remove the affected areas and improve the growing conditions by situating the plant in a brighter location with the use of the bottom-up method of irrigation. Typical symptoms of powdery mildew are a thin layer of white powder-like substance forming on the foliage or flowers. In contrast, botrytis petal blight looks largely similar to the mildew, except that it usually accompanied by yellow leaves and small dark spots developing on the flowers.



Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers

Although trying to get a Hydrangea to re-bloom isn't overly tricky, people still find it difficult to achieve. As ukhouseplants been challenged many times on this subject, we've created an acronym to help you through this process; SHORT. Repotting isn't usually mandatory if you want it to re-bloom - in fact, this may hurt the chances. Only repot every two to three years and after the blooming has finished. To get a Hydrangea to reflower in spring, think back to its previous dormancy period during the winter. The following steps should be done at the end of autumn, when the plant starts to slow down growth.


Sunlight

Be sure to provide a bright location with no direct sunlight. Although the sunlight won't necessarily hurt the plant, you can easily fall in the trap of under-watering, potentially weakening the plant. In order for it to fully become seasoned, avoid the use of artificial lighting during the night.

Hydration

Reduce hydrations so that the soil begins to dry for a couple of days. Remember, Hydrangea should only be watered from the bottom-up as rotting foliage or crown are a common issue with colder temperatures.

Occasional Feeds

While it's bloom, try to use a 'Flowering Plant' fertiliser, for example Streptocarpus Feed. During the dormancy period, only supplement once or twice to carry through until the following spring. Shortly before the start of growth, use a fertiliser high in potassium to increase the chance of flower development - Tomato feed is an excellent choice. 

Reduce Everything

This one is to remind you that everything needs to be reduced - especially the temperature.

Temperature

This is the most significant step - reduce the temperature down by around 5℃ compared to the summertime or place in a room which is within 12 - 15℃  (53 - 59℉). Most houseplants are quite sensitive to ambient change, so we can't empathise how vital this step is! Do not exceed the minimum temperature for tender Hydrangea as this will lead to plant death.




Origins

Hydrangea is a genus of around seventy species, originating North America or Eastern Asia. The genus was first described back in the 1750's by Carl Linnaeus during a visit to the Americas. Hydrangea comes from the Latin words for 'water capsulesthat refer to the shape of the seeds put out in spring or summer.


Temperature

10°C - 25°C   (50° - 78°F)
H1c - can be grown outdoors in spring and summer in a sheltered location, but is fine to remain indoors. If you decide to bring this houseplant outdoors, do not allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as this will burn the leaves. Regularly keep an eye out for pests.


Spread

When grown indoors, they can grow up to 1m in height and 0.8m in width. The ultimate height will take between 4 - 6 years to achieve.


Pruning

Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases; remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant. From late winter to early spring, prune leggy growth to promote a bushier appearance and remove spent flowers or plant debris. During the colder months, hard-pruning is advised for bigger, better blooms; be careful not to damage the new buds that form in autumn.


Propagation

 Via seed, stem cuttings or division. To learn about the critical essentials with sowing seeds, be sure to click on this link - Seed Propagation Tips

Stem Cuttings - Choose the healthiest, most established stems that are wooded, but still juvenile enough to slightly bend. This propagation method can be taken from spring to late summer, using between three to five leaves. Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count and remove the bottom leaves. Set the cuttings into a well-draining potting mix, dipping the wound in rooting hormone. Blackleg can occur when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound. Avoid direct sunlight and offer good humidity and temperature (15°C+) for success. It's recommend to place the cuttings in a clear plastic bag to lock in the soil moisture and regulate a stable level of humidity.

Division - Split the root ball into several sections during the start of spring. Dividing too-small segments of the rootball could lead to transplant shock or unsuccessful propagation. Stems that are at least 2cm in diameter serve the best chance of propagation due to the stored energy in the roots and stems. Place the sections into houseplant compost and water regularly, avoiding prolonged sunlight and persistent droughts.


Flowers

Most indoor Hydrangea will flower between the months of spring or summer, lasting several weeks or even months. The blooms are arranged in globular panicles, laying just above the foliage line to attract airborne pollinators. Hydrangea usually sport either white, red, purple, blue or pink coloured flowers, with cultivars and hybrids being a mixture.


Repotting

Repot every two or three years using Houseplant compost with added perlite or grit. For matured specimens, introduce more grit to promote a stronger root ball as well as the reduction of potential root rot; click on this link for more information on how to perform the perfect transplant.


Diseases & Pests

Common diseases with Hydrangea are root or crown rot, powdery mildew, leaf-spot disease, botrytis petal blight and powdery mildew. Keep an eye out for spider mite, thrips, aphids & mealybugs. For more info on how to address any of these issues, hit this link.  Identifying Common Houseplant Pests & Diseases


Toxicity

Not known to be poisonous by consumption of pets and humans. If high quantities are eaten, it may result in vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite.


Retail Locations

Some florists & Online Stores. Specimens are likely to be found in summer outside at most garden centres; it's not advised to bring outdoor specimens inside as this could lead to environmental shock and introducing foreign pests into the home.

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