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True Romance

With more than 1,200 species to choose from, the hydrangea is one of the easiest plants to find at nurseries and garden stores. These perennial shrubs produce big, bountiful flower heads crowded with velvety petals in white, pink, blue, lilac, and purple, or sometimes combinations of the two, and they’re surprisingly easy to grow.

Hydrangeas are one of our top picks for Refined Romantic, both for their soft, rounded shape and their out-of-this-world hues. There’s no need to get fancy with arrangements when the blooms are this showy. Instead, collect a handful of stems (including some leaves) and pack them into your favorite crystal vase or beat-up galvanized bucket, set small bowls with a bloom or two atop accent tables, or tie together a couple of large bunches, put them in a water-filled pots, and tuck the pots into a beautiful basket. The effect is lush and colorful, with a relaxed, thrown-together elegance.

 

The Secrets of Hydrangeas

To prolong vibrancy, cut blooms in the morning or evening, when it’s cooler outside. Taking a container of water outside and placing the stems in it as soon as they’re cut will also help.

To root hydrangea cuttings, follow these simple steps.

For a longer-lasting dried flower that looks almost as good as fresh, allow hydrangeas to dry on the plant before cutting them. August through October is the best time.

Unlike most flowers, hydrangeas can be encouraged to change color. It’s easiest to do by growing them in containers, where you can control the pH of the soil. Change a pink hydrangea to blue by adding aluminum sulfate to and adjusting the pH of the soil (aim for 5.2 to 5.5). Changing a blue hydrangea to pink is more challenging, but can be achieved by treating the soil with dolomitic lime to raise the pH (6.0 to 6.2 is ideal), and using a fertilizer with high levels of phosphorous. Consult your favorite nursery for specifics.

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