Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

No Green Thumbs Here; Hydrangeas Perfect for the Horticulturally Challenged

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

No Green Thumbs Here; Hydrangeas Perfect for the Horticulturally Challenged

Article excerpt

Byline: CLINT HEATHORN THE LITTLE GREEN FROG

FOR those of us, like me, who are not clever enough to be surgeons, the opportunities to play God are sadly few and far between.

But there is a plant out there that will leave even the most horticulturally challenged among us with a real sense of power over mother nature.

You see, with hydrangeas, the gardener can control the colour of the flowers.

Hydrangeas traditionally come in blue, pink and white.

Now white you can't change.

But pink or blue depends on the alkalinity or acidity of your soil.

Garden soils with a pH of five or less (acid) will produce blue flowers.

A pH that climbs to neutral and into the alkaline range (pH7) will start to produce blooms in mauve, pink or red.

So if you have pink or mauve flowers, a regular dose of aluminium sulphate in the lead up to buds forming will turn them blue.

Similarly, lime added to the soil will turn blue flowers back to pink.

Once lumped with geraniums in the much-maligned "my grandma used to grow that" garden group, hydrangeas are once again booming in popularity thanks to some exciting new flower styles and colours on the market.

But despite their recent transformation to trendy, grower Robert Higgs of Higgs Nursery says they haven't lost those things that made them a favourite of yesteryear.

"They're still a really good, tough old plant," he said.

Traditionally grown on the cooler southern side of homes, hydrangeas will actually take full sun in cooler climates such as in Toowoomba, but further north require more protection.

Unlike most flowering plants and shrubs, a lack of direct sun won't thwart their prodigious flowering capabilities.

In fact, growing up on the Sunshine Coast I remember two large hydrangeas that graced either side of our front steps. …

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