Flower of the week: Hydrangea

Just like dahlias, hydrangeas are making a fashionable comeback in the garden, as cut flowers and as inspiration for designers. The big round blooms of mophead (Hortensia) varieties are perfect for making a show-stopping statement. The flatter lacecaps are more subtle, as the name suggests. Climbing varieties are an elegant way to cover up a garden wall or fence.

Red, white or blue?

Hydrangea flowering peaks in high summer. But what colour will yours be? Some hydrangeas will naturally fade or change colour as they age, but if you're after a particular shade, you need to choose the right plant and give it the right conditions. For blue flowers, you need acid soil. For pink flowers, it's alkaline. In neutral soil, flowers will be more mauve. White and green-flowered hydrangeas are good in most soils. If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, use an easy-to-follow DIY testing kit available at Burston Garden Centre. All varieties like moist, fertile soil, so mix in lots of organic matter, such as €œMulch and Mix€ or good quality compost, when planting out. A spot that's sheltered from blasting sun and strong wind is preferable. One of the easiest ways to get the colour you want is to plant in pots. For blooms of deep blue, fill with an ericaceous compost and water with rainwater. Use a loam based compost for pink. We also stock a range of formulas and feeds to help you achieve the results you want: hydrangea colourant for blue, lime for pink.

To prune or not to prune?

The majority of hydrangeas produce flowers on the previous year's growth, so treat pruning with a degree of caution, taking note of the instructions on the planting label. Dead-heading can be carried out after flowering, but it's better to leave flower heads on over winter to provide a bit of protection. Lightly prune stems in spring to remove the flowerheads. As the plant matures, prune a third of stems back to the ground in spring to encourage new growth. Always avoid excessive pruning as this can lead to non-flowering. For help and more advice about hydrangeas, ask in store today.