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Growing Hydrangea Cut Flowers

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:50 pm    Post subject: Growing Hydrangea Cut Flowers Reply with quote

Growing Hydrangea Cut Flowers
By Thomas Andrews

If you have bought a hydrangea specifically for cut flower use, you have truly made a commitment and an investment. It can be very frustrating if that investment fails to pay off, especially if you have planned to use your hydrangeas for some special occasion. Hydrangeas exhibit delicate hues, ideal for weddings, formal dances, and springtime home décor. They work well as cut flower plants because, unlike most annual cut flowers, there are few pest problems, and if you need to use a few stems for an arrangement, your plant will still be attractive. You won't have to hide it in your vegetable garden with your coneflowers, carnations, and tulips.

Planting Your Hydrangea

When you are planting a hydrangea for cut flowers you must consider two things.

* The blooms and stems must be protected from strong winds and the hot afternoon sun. Avoid planting in open areas where strong winds could break stems. And, if you can, plant on the eastern side of a building so that, in the afternoon, when the sun is at its hottest, your plants are in the shade.
* Make sure your plant has good drainage. Hydrangeas love water, but if the soil is too wet, the plant won't grow well, the roots might rot, and the plant will die. When you plant it, incorporate a lot of organic matter, and a quality all-purpose slow-release fertilizer into the soil.

Pruning in Preparation for Cutting

It will take at least a year for your hydrangea to mature enough to produce really good blooms. The first winter after you plant it will be the first time your new plant gets pruned. Pruning for cut flowers is a little more aggressive than pruning for landscaping.

Your goal is not to make this plant look pretty, but to get the best blooms on long straight stems. First, remove all of the dead or dying material that you would normally remove. Second, you will cut the plant back to about a third of its current size. Cutting the plant really low, will force it to grow long stems, which is exactly what your want.

Cutting and Caring for Your Flowers

When cutting hydrangeas, cut them just as blooms fully develop. Cut your flowers in the early morning, before the sun comes up to evaporate some of their moisture. Cutting at diagonal will allow the stem to take in the most amount of water, some people will even cut slits or fray the ends of the stems a little. Place your freshly cut flowers in a bucket of cool water to soak for an hour or two before arranging your final product. Use a commercial floral preservative to get the best results. This will feed your flowers, maintain a constant pH, and will serve as an anti-microbial to prevent premature decay. You should be able to find this at a local nursery. Keep in mind that many gardeners and florists complain that hydrangeas wilt faster than other cut flowers and may require a little extra planning.

Once you have created your floral masterpiece, keep it out of drafty areas and direct sunlight to prevent the flowers from drying. Finally, you can just sit back and admire your new décor or enjoy your special moment.

Thomas Andrews is a garden writer for Wayside Gardens focuses on providing unusual, high-end plants and accessories for the serious garden enthusiast. Both the catalog and the website present an extensive selection of top-quality container and bare-root plants, along with decorative accessories, many available exclusively from Wayside Gardens.

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