How To Negotiate With Large-leaved Hydrangea

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How To Negotiate With Large-leaved Hydrangea
How To Negotiate With Large-leaved Hydrangea

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When we use the word "hydrangea" in a conversation, it is necessary to indicate which hydrangea, that is, to name the corresponding adjective. If this is not done, then confusion occurs in the heads of novice gardeners. There are quite a few different hydrangeas, they all differ both in the nature of growth, in the type of flowering, and in winter hardiness. This should always be taken into account when purchasing planting material. If this is not done, then we can get trapped, because each species needs its own approach.

Don't mix it up

What exactly are hydrangeas? For myself, I distinguish 5 groups, in each group there are many varieties.

Treelike hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is the most common and familiar to all of us, hydrangea familiar from old gardens. Shrub with sparse shoots up to 1.5 m tall. Forms white flower caps. Currently, a lot of varieties with a pink color have been bred.

  • Hydrangea paniculata (Hydrangea paniculata) forms a shrub up to 3-4 m, in mature age it can resemble lilacs in habit. The varieties differ in both height and inflorescences. Inflorescences consist of 2 types of flowers: fertile - with full flowers, capable of reproduction, but outwardly inconspicuous, similar to peas; and sterile - with different sizes, but with open, beauty-creating petals. The ratio of these or those in the inflorescence and the different ability to be painted in red by autumn creates the basis for the variety of varieties. It is absolutely winter hardy and does not require shelter.
  • Stalked hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris) is a climbing liana. Air roots are formed along the entire length of the shoots, which can eat into anything, if only there is support. On my gazebo, it eats the paint on the supports, and when you peel it off, traces remain in the form of bizarre patterns with the bare wood of the posts. Blooms in medium-sized, but dense spherical inflorescences. A distinctive feature of this hydrangea is its slow growth. We need to be patient for many years until it takes on a presentable look. It is quite hardy.
  • Large-leaved hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) differs from the previous ones in beautiful, more often spherical, inflorescences with a color from pink to deep blue. We see this view most often in Western magazines and admire its magnificence. It also occurs with fertile flowers in the center of the inflorescence. An important feature of this hydrangea is the obligatory shelter for the winter.
  • In this group, I include all other types of hydrangeas - this is oaky hydrangea, Bretschneider's hydrangea, serrated hydrangea, rough hydrangea and many others. They differ in growth, and inflorescences, and leaves, but sometimes even taxonomists have difficulties in attributing them to one or another species, since in nature they could well be pollinated among themselves, what can we say about us, the inhabitants. All of them are characterized by low winter hardiness in the conditions of central Russia. In addition, some form stiff shoots, which entails additional problems with shelter for the winter. However, there are numerous examples of successful cultivation.

Well, what unites all these groups of hydrangeas, how are they similar? All of them feel great in the shade, even without the morning or evening sun. The soil for them should preferably be acidic. And they are all responsive to high humidity, both in the air and in the area of ​​the roots.

The one that everyone likes

Now I would like to share my experience of growing large-leaved hydrangea, or, as it is often called, macrophile hydrangea. According to numerous reviews, this type of hydrangea is the most attractive for gardeners, but at the same time it causes the greatest difficulties. The problem, in my opinion, lies in the shelter for the winter. Let's talk about everything in order.

Variety to variety - discord

Currently, there are many varieties, which does not make sense to list. It is important for yourself to divide them into two types.

In the first type, flowering occurs only on overwintered shoots, that is, on shoots of the second year. And if all the buds are frozen over the winter, then flowering will not wait.

  • In others, flowers are formed both on the shoots of the second year, and on the current ones, which grew directly this summer.

For beginners, for whom the shelter procedure for the winter, for one reason or another, causes difficulties, it is better to acquire macrophiles with flowering on the shoots of the current year. But it must be borne in mind that flowering on them will occur much later than on overwintered shoots, because they must first grow. And if the bush is already adult, tall, then the flowers can hide inside the bush due to the low growth of such annual shoots.

It is not photoshop that changes color, but fertilizers

Large-leaved hydrangea
Large-leaved hydrangea

Large-leaved hydrangea Large-leaved hydrangeas have the ability to change color from pink to blue. This can be achieved by adding aluminum sulfate to the near-stem circle. It is found in a number of fertilizers that, when applied annually, will stimulate discoloration.

  • In garden centers, you can buy a specially designed product for this. In the instructions for such imported drugs, they write that they must be applied in a certain amount and before each flowering. But, based on my observations, I will say that this is not enough. You need to make a much larger amount.
  • You can also try to find potassium alum in drugstores. In the photo you see, I added potassium alum. I did it only once and it was enough for many years. True, I added about 200-300 g of ferrous sulfate for color saturation. You can give more, you cannot burn the hydrangea to them.

Here I want to note that many gardeners, usually beginners, try to "color" the tree hydrangea in this way. I dare to assure that nothing will work, this species does not have such an ability to change color.

Plant in the shade

This hydrangea does not tolerate heat, and if the rays of the daytime sun fall on it, then the turgor of the leaf is immediately disturbed, it wilts, and begins to look like a hanging rag. In this regard, a light shade will be the best landing place for her. It is quite acceptable that the sun hits it in the morning or evening hours, when it is not so hot.

This hydrangea, however, like other species, is responsive to abundant watering. Therefore, you should always ensure that the ground is moist.

Sour drinker

The planting hole should be made wide enough, because the roots grow more in breadth than in depth. When planting, you should try to increase the acidity of the soil. To do this, add as much sour peat as possible to the soil (it is red, in contrast to the bottom dark).

  • Hydrangea is very responsive to the annual application of rotted horse manure.
  • Several times a season it will be nice to spill the soil around the bush with a weak solution of ammonium nitrate or fertilizer based on it (about 1 pinch per 10 liter watering can).
  • The acidity of the soil can be increased with citric acid by dissolving 3 teaspoons in 10 liters of water.
  • To your health

    In order for the nutrients to be well absorbed, it would be desirable to treat the macrophile with iron chelate at the beginning of summer. You can buy a finished product, or you can prepare it yourself. My recipe is simple.

    I buy a 5 liter bottle of distilled water at an auto parts store.

    • I divide it into 3 parts.
    • In one part I mix 1 tablespoon of citric acid.
    • In the other part - 1 teaspoon of ferrous sulfate.
    • The resulting solution of ferrous sulfate is slowly poured, stirring, into the citric acid solution.
    • I dilute all this with the rest of the pure water.

    I spray the leaves of the plant with the resulting homemade iron chelate and, if it remains, I pour it into the legs.

    When to trim?

    If they ask me when to prune a large-leaved hydrangea, I answer that it is necessary to prune in the spring, and not in the fall - there it will be clear what to prune. When the leaves open, those parts of the shoots that are frozen will be visible, and they are cut off. But I'm cunning a little … So I say to those who have just started to deal with macrophile. In fact, I cut everything in the fall. There is no time in the spring, and the bush in front of the shelter will become smaller, or rather less often. This means fewer kidneys will be damaged when bending and tying. And now I will expand on the points what I do.

    I cut off the inflorescences. I take each "by the neck" and look down the developed kidneys. They are usually large at the third internode. I cut them off. If the inflorescences are medium-sized, then the shoots are thin and the buds are not really visible there, usually on a weak shoot they develop somewhere below. Then we'll figure it out, cut off such small inflorescences where necessary, without looking.

    • I cut off the leaves on the shoots of the first year (which did not bloom), they usually have large and still green leaves. I do not touch the shoots themselves, I cut off (do not tear off!) Only the leaves. I leave only small undeveloped leaves located at the very top. The tops of my heads usually remain, they freeze a little, and the flowers from them are gnarled, but the very first ones. If you do not waste time on trifles, you can cut off the tops. In the photo, the shoot of the first year, not fully ripe, with green leaves. A well-ripened shoot has yellow leaves.
    • By this time, the bush has few leaves and is transparent. Watching every shoot coming from the base! First of all, I am looking for large buds on those shoots that were thin and with small inflorescences. If there are any, then I cut off these buds. On the same branch, I cut off all branches without developed buds. If I don't find a developed kidney, then I cut off the entire shoot near the ground for rejuvenation. I leave only the thickest, erect, with tiny buds. Flowers they will not be so hot, but at the very top and in addition they will serve as a support for others.
    • I cut off all dry and those first-year shoots that “did not grow out”. Even if the shoot is half grown, I still cut it off. Cut both dry and such should be as low as possible, without leaving hemp. Subsequently, hemp can interfere with bending. The photo shows small shoots of the first year with green leaves. I cut them off at the base, they will still freeze.
    • With the shoots, which had large inflorescences, I do nothing, I have already done everything at the first stage. They are the most important and will be the main flowering carriers next year.
    • Large-leaved hydrangea bush before pruning
      Large-leaved hydrangea bush before pruning

      Large-leaved hydrangea bush before pruning

      Cut the inflorescences for the first large bud
      Cut the inflorescences for the first large bud

      Cut the inflorescences for the first large bud

      This is a shoot of the first year, not fully ripe, with green leaves
      This is a shoot of the first year, not fully ripe, with green leaves

      This is a shoot of the first year, not fully ripe, with green leaves

      I cut off thin shoots without developed buds at the base
      I cut off thin shoots without developed buds at the base

      I cut off thin shoots without developed buds at the base

      I cut off small shoots of the first year with green leaves at the base
      I cut off small shoots of the first year with green leaves at the base

      I cut off small shoots of the first year with green leaves at the base

      A large-leaved hydrangea bush after pruning is ready for shelter
      A large-leaved hydrangea bush after pruning is ready for shelter

      A large-leaved hydrangea bush after pruning is ready for shelter

      100% will bloom when covered

      The main disappointments among gardeners when growing this hydrangea are associated, I believe, with the method of shelter. I have seen many people wrap up bushes, following the example of how we insulate our children by dressing them in a warm coat or jacket. They tie the bush into a column and wrap it with some kind of insulation. But it must be borne in mind that when we put on warm clothes on ourselves or on our children, we thereby preserve the heat of our body, which, as you know, is equal to +36.6 o C. The stems, however, do not have warmth and wrapping in a "column" is at best the case will only protect from the wind, it is only a few degrees, if it (the column) is not covered with snow. Often, using this method of shelter, you can protect the plant from freezing, but this already depends on the frost and the amount of snow during the winter.

      Therefore, in order to guarantee the preservation of the shoots, they must be bent down, laying on the ground. After all, heat comes from the center of the earth, it is important to keep it so that it does not evaporate. Therefore, we first bend the shoots, and then cover them with something.

      Do not be afraid, will not vomit

      You can often meet objections and fears that, supposedly, the macrophile will vomit. I can assure you that this is not happening. Unlike roses, which need enough air to keep from blowing out, hydrangeas do not. I will also note that taxonomists not in vain gave the plant such a name, "hydrangea" - in Latin it sounds like "hydrangea". "Hydro" is water, and in translation the name means something like "a vessel with water" or "a vessel that absorbs moisture." Damping off does not threaten her!

      Shelter master class

      Well, now I will show and tell you point by point how I do it. In time I fit in less than half an hour, because everything you need has already been prepared and used from year to year.

      I look at the base of the stems and mentally disassemble the shoots into bunches, which I will tie and bend along the sides. It is important here that they are located in close proximity in each bunch, so it is easier to bend down and fit lower. I tie the bundles with a rope already in the bent position, so the harness will not resist during the final bending.

      • I pin the bundles to the ground with iron hooks from a centimeter bar.
      • I put fertile peat in the center of the bush, maybe rotted horse manure (even better), but this time I ran out of it.
      • I am making a "pie" (I call this shelter so to myself). The first layer is polyethylene. The second layer is the "filling", consisting of old pieces of dry (this is important) spunbond and burlap. The messier it is, the better, the thicker the layer will be. The third layer is polyethylene again. I tuck it all up.
      • From the very top, I throw in a net from which bags for potatoes and onions are made. I bought a green mesh - it is not striking, unlike a white spunbond when there is no snow, and, most importantly, it holds the first snow, it is not blown by the wind. I turn it over again and press it with stones around the edges for reliability. Thus, the shelter is low and it is quickly covered with snow. But if there is frost and no snow, the "pie" will help here too.
      • Spring. It is also a very important and dangerous time, it carries no less threat than winter. And all because in the spring, under the shelter of the buds, the plants are swollen and tender, and there is a very high probability of their damage by recurrent frosts. After the sun begins to bake, I raise the shelter and give a short-term "breath". I do this several times until there is confidence in the steady heat. Then I remove the cover completely. It should be borne in mind that in the Moscow region, return frosts can come until May 25, and in exceptional years and until June 6. If the unexpected happens, you can always carefully throw a non-woven material over the bush.
      • I disassemble the shoots into bunches and tie them
        I disassemble the shoots into bunches and tie them

        I disassemble the shoots into bunches and tie them

        I bend the beams to the ground and pin them, add peat to the center
        I bend the beams to the ground and pin them, add peat to the center

        I bend the beams to the ground and pin them, add peat to the center

        The first layer of the shelter is polyethylene
        The first layer of the shelter is polyethylene

        The first layer of the shelter is polyethylene

        The next layer is insulation
        The next layer is insulation

        The next layer is insulation

        Next - polyethylene again
        Next - polyethylene again

        Next - polyethylene again

        The final stage - nylon mesh
        The final stage - nylon mesh

        The final stage - nylon mesh

        That's it. I would like to wish the readers success in growing such hydrangeas. Believe me, there is nothing difficult in this, if everything is done correctly.

        Special issue of the newspaper "My favorite flowers", No. 1, 2020 "Ornamental shrubs: hydrangea, rhododendron, lilac and others"

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