Hydrangea Hortensia: a classic in Grandma’s garden [part.1]

photo by Stan Shebs

Among your summer memories many of you retain the image of a flowered hydrangea, with its impressive and rounded inflorescences, white, – coloured, lilac but mostly pink or light blue: a ground and potted plant, which is lovely cared by grandmothers and quite widespread in the gardens and town courtyards, and main theater of childhood games at the school’s closure.

The genus Hydrangea includes about seventies species of flowering woody and shrubby plants, native to the South of the world and Asian Far East (China, Himalaya, Japan Korea and Indonesia).

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After having been introduced in the Azores and having become so common to name Faial Isle with title of “Blue Isle”, by virtue of its extensive blooms, the species Hydrangea macrophilla  is today the most widely cultivated in the world, with over 600 selected cultivars for globular sterile flowers.

The hydrangea flowers grow, at the extreme of the stems, gathered in corymbs or panicles, in spherical or umbrella shape. In many species the corymbs have two types of inflorescences: small fertile flowers in the middle of the head surrounded by large sterile sepals, bract petal-shaped flowers. Other species show, on the contrary, all sterile flowers in the same size.

fiori di ortensia

They generally are rustic plants which tolerate the cold ; in temperate climate the leaves are usually deciduous, but there are some of them which are evergreen.

To plant hydrangeas in the right position can make the difference between a luxuriant growth, plentifully flowered, or to obtain a shrub which struggles to survive and produces stunted blooms. Hydrangea shrubs reach the height of 1 up to 4 meters; some species are saplings, while others are climbers or lianas, and when they cling to the trees, they can reach up to 30 meters in height.

As to care and maintenance of Hydrangea genus we will talk in the next post.

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