Gardening 101: French Hydrangeas
Every Southern garden should include this classic pass-along plant.
You can add aluminum sulfate around your hydrangeas to acidify the soil. Add lime to make your soil more alkaline. Some selections are less affected by soil pH than others. White-flowering ones, such as ‘Lanarth White’ and ‘Madame Emile Mouillere,’ will stay white.
Light: Plant in mixed sun and shade (won’t bloom in full shade).
Soil: Hydrangeas like moist, fertile, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter, such as peat or chopped leaves. Mulch plants to help keep roots cool and moisture consistent. They’re also great plants for the coast since they can tolerate salty conditions.
Prune: Remove dead growth in spring; trim off faded blooms in summer and fall.
Other pairings: Use such evergreens as camellias and purple loropetalums as backdrops. Ferns and variegated monkey grass work great in the foreground.
Tip: Water and feed repeat bloomers consistently to ensure steady blooms.
Step 1: Take cuttings in early summer. Use a pair of sharp snips or clippers to take cuttings about 6 inches down from the tip of the stem; then remove the lowest pair of leaves.
Step 2: Use a rooting hormone to get your cuttings started. Wet the ends of cut stems, and dip into a rooting powder, such as Rootone, following the instructions on the label.
Step 3: Stick each cutting in a pot containing moist potting soil, and place the pot in a shady location. Keep soil slightly moist. Cuttings root in six to eight weeks. Add to your yard (or share) in the fall.