Hydrangea Macrophylla (Farmer Hydrangea): Plants, Care And The Best Varieties

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Are farm hydrangeas, also called garden hydrangeas, hardy? What do you have to consider when cutting farm hydrangeas? Everything you need to know about planting and caring for Hydrangea macrophylla can be found here.

It is hard to imagine our gardens without a garden or farm hydrangeas. Whether in white, pink, purple, or blue – the bulging inflorescences of the Hydrangea Macrophylla make shady garden places shine.

Hydrangea Macrophylla: Flowering time, origin, and characteristics

The farmer hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) belongs to the genus Hydrangea in the family Hydrangeaceae. Its wild form originally comes from Japan and arrived in Europe around 1790. Since then it has been heavily cultivated so that today there is a great variety of garden hydrangea varieties.

Some beautiful hybrid varieties are also known as garden or farm hydrangeas. The hydrangea grows as an upright half shrub and grows about 1 to 2 meters high and up to 2.5 meters wide. It forms opposite, up to 15 centimeters long, elliptically pointed leaves. These appear in intense green, their leaf edge is serrated.

During the flowering period from June to September, numerous umbrella panicles open above the foliage, consisting of sterile show flowers and hidden fertile flowers. The panicles have a flattened or spherical shape, the spherical inflorescences are completely sterile.

Garden hydrangeas are offered in many different colors

The Hydrangea Macrophylla forms luxuriant flower panicles, but is it bee-friendly? Unlike panicle hydrangeas, for example, garden hydrangeas have predominantly sterile flowers with usually 4 to 6 large sepals. Bees and other insects do not find food in these.

The garden hortensia varieties with umbrella-shaped, flat inflorescences also have fertile flowers that provide nectar and pollen, but the food supply for insects is comparatively small. Therefore, the farmer hydrangea is only limited to bee-friendly. If you are looking for an insect-friendly hydrangea, the panicle hydrangea variety ‘Kyushu’, for example, which has a high proportion of nectar-rich, fertile flowers, is suitable.

The umbrella-shaped inflorescences of Hydrangea macrophylla have fertile flowers that provide food for insects

Hydrangea Macrophylla varieties

There are many varieties of farm hydrangeas, which differ mainly in the color and shape of their flowers. Besides single-colored varieties, there are also fancy varieties with multi-colored flowers available.

Winter hardy hydrangea varieties

Endless Summer‘: Multi-flowering variety with bulging, ball-shaped inflorescences in white, blue, and red tones.

Hydrangea ‘Forever and Ever’: Easy to care for variety series with ball-shaped inflorescences in pink, blue and purple; the edges of the sepals are partly slightly serrated.

Hydrangea ‘Hovaria’: Variety series with partly multicolored blooms, e.g. white with red border or two-colored variegated blooms in pink and red; leaf edges partly serrated; provides food for bees.

Besides single colored varieties there are also varieties with multicolored or double flowers

Hydrangea ‘Magical’: Huge, ball-shaped flowers in shades of red and pink, also multi-colored varieties with unique color gradients from green to pink and red to yellow-green in autumn; partly jagged flower edges.

Hydrangea Macrophylla ‘You & Me Romance’: Long flowering variety with rather flat inflorescences, very large, double mock flowers in pink or blue; provides food for bees.

Hydrangea ‘Pirates Gold’: Striking, yellow-green foliage; inflorescences appear pink and have only a few marginal false flowers; provides food for bees.

Hydrangea Macrophylla ‘Little Blue’: Dwarf hydrangea, growth height up to 60 cm; full balls of flowers in pastel blue.

Hydrangea Macrophylla ‘Kamara’: Large, ball-shaped inflorescences in white, pink, and blue tones; also multicolored varieties; compact growth, very well suited as a pot plant.

Hydrangea ‘Lanarth White’: Small, broad-bushy shrub with plate-shaped inflorescences of pure white marginal flowers and pink or blue fertile flowers; the white hydrangea provides food for bees.

Garden hydrangeas can be planted in the garden as well as in a pot on the terrace or balcony

Hydrangea Macrophylla Planting: Location, Timing, And Instructions

Garden hydrangeas can be planted all year round. However, spring is the best time for planting. This gives the plants enough time until winter to grow well.

The right location for hortensias

The perfect location for garden hortensias is a half-shaded, wind-protected place in the garden or on the balcony. In a fully sunny location, farm hydrangeas do not feel very comfortable, especially because of their high water requirements. The watering water evaporates too quickly so that the plants let their leaves and flowers hang down. They can also easily get sunburned in strong sunlight.

Garden hortensias need fresh, permeable, and slightly acidic soil with high humus and nutrient content. Special hortensia soils with a low pH value are offered in garden shops. These are very suitable for pot planting. In the garden, you can also simply make the substrate yourself.

Sandy and nutrient-poor, but also too heavy and clayey garden soils should be mixed with high-quality potting soil. Especially heavy soils are additionally enriched with sand, preferably in a mixing ratio of 2/3 garden soil to 1/3 sand.

To ensure that the soil pH slips into the acidic range, add acidic primary rock flour (e.g. basalt, granite) or grape marc to the soil. The needles of coniferous trees also lower the pH value.

After planting, the soil around the hydrangea should be mulched with bark mulch. This keeps the moisture in the soil and ensures that the pH value remains rather low.

Tip: If you want to achieve a strong blue coloration of your hydrangea, you should plant it in a pot, as the acidity level can be better influenced here. How exactly you can color hydrangeas blue, you can read in our special article.

Instruction: Planting garden hydrangeas

You can plant a Hydrangea Macrophylla in the open or in a tub:

  • Dig a sufficiently large planting hole for your hydrangea. It should be 1.5 times the size of the planting ball.
  • Then fill the hole with loose soil until the correct planting height is reached.
  • Loosen the hydrangea from the pot and loosen the plant ball with your hands so that the roots are pulled together and pulled apart – this will encourage the roots to branch.
  • Place the planting ball in the middle of the planting hole and fill it with the substrate.
  • Press well and water generously. Especially when planting in the summer months, the freshly planted hydrangeas need very intensive watering.

If you want to plant the garden hydrangea in a pot, it is essential that the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, which is kept free by thick stones or broken clay. Excess water can then simply runoff during watering so that no stagnant moisture is created. You should also choose a glazed clay pot or a plastic bucket for the hortensia, as vessels made of open-pored clay lose a lot of water through evaporation.

Tip: You can form a small earth wall around the hydrangea from leftover earth, which you always fill completely with water when pouring. In this way, the water can seep away slowly and does not run off sideways if it cannot be absorbed by the soil quickly enough. A mulch layer of leaves or bark mulch also serves as protection against evaporation.

Even if you have only little space, thanks to small varieties for the pot, you do not have to do without the garden hortensia

Care for hydrangeas

When caring for farm hydrangeas, you should keep in mind that the plants have an extremely high water requirement. In addition to regular watering, especially hortensias planted in pots should be fertilized occasionally.

Tip: When caring for beds, you should definitely avoid chopping around the hydrangeas. They are shallow roots and their roots can easily be damaged during hoeing.

Cutting farm hydrangeas

In spring it is time to cut the farm hydrangeas. Only the wilted inflorescences and the dead plant parts are removed. Place the garden shears below the flowers, just above the new buds. More detailed information about cutting hydrangeas can be found in our special article.

Garden hydrangeas are hardy in our latitudes

Fertilizing Hydrangea Macrophylla

Especially pot hortensias should be fertilized annually to replenish the nutrient supply. The right time to add fertilizer in spring. Spring fertilization gives the garden hortensias a good start in the vegetation period. In summer, second fertilization can be applied, but in no case should fertilization be applied after the end of June, as the risk of frost damage increases then.

Choose a special organic hortensia fertilizer with long-term effects. This contains extra iron to prevent iron chlorosis. By covering the fertilizer with a layer of mulch, it is kept moist and starts working more quickly. Do not use rakes or similar tools to work the fertilizer in, as the flat roots of the hydrangeas can easily be damaged.

Tip: In spite of correct fertilization, iron chlorosis can occur with hydrangeas. The cause of these plant-untypical leaf discolorations is a too high pH value of the soil. This can be lowered by adding some grape marc or acidic primary rock flour or watering regularly with acidic water.

Watering Hydrangea Macrophylla

Unlike the panicle hydrangeas, which can survive even shorter dry periods well, Hydrangea Macrophylla has an enormously high water requirement and react quickly to a water deficit by leaving their shoots and flowers hanging limp. Therefore, water the garden hydrangeas in your garden or on the balcony in the summer months daily and generously.

On hot summer days, pot hortensias should even be watered twice a day, as the water evaporates faster with the smaller volume of soil. Ideally, use rainwater, as this has the right pH value for hydrangeas. Towards the end of the summer, the amount of water can be reduced.

Tip: Water that is too calcareous should be acidified with some apple vinegar or at least left to stand for a day before using it (“bubbling”).

Propagating garden hortensias

Garden hydrangeas, like other hydrangea species, can be propagated using cuttings. These must be cut in early summer between June and July. First, the cultivation vessels are filled with substrate. Choose a peat-free sowing soil, and mix in sand or perlite. This increases the air capacity of the soil and thus improves rooting.

The cuttings can then be cut. You cut offshoot tips from the rods that are about 10 to 15 cm long. They should be vital and only slightly woody and should not have flower buds. Then the lower leaves are removed, only the upper pair of leaves is left standing. Now the cuttings are inserted about 7 cm deep into the substrate and pressed on.

The soil must be kept continuously moist. In a bright place with high humidity, without direct sunlight, and with a temperature of about 15 °C, the cuttings take root and grow into new hydrangeas.

Hydrangea Macrophylla overwinter

Hydrangea Macrophylla is hardy in our latitudes. Always choose robust plants from specialized trade, which have been well hardened. Since hydrangeas have very shallow roots, you can cover the ground around the hydrangeas with leaves and fir branches for safety. Especially with pot hydrangeas, the plants and pots should be covered with garden fleece and jute bags to protect them from severe frost.

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