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Botanical name: Hydrangea macrophylla
Common names: Bigleaf Hydrangea, Mophead Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Hortensia, Lacecap Hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla or Bigleaf Hydrangea is a spectacular plant whose blooms can be white, blue, red, pink, light purple or dark purple where the color is affected by the soil PH.
A PH below 7 (acidic soil) will produce a flower color closer to blue while a PH above 7 (alkaline soil) will produce flowers that are more pink. However, only the pink varieties of Bigleaf Hydrangea can be blued.
Bigleaf Hydrangea is also called Mophead Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Hortensia or Lacecap Hydrangea among other common names.
The species name macrophylla refers to the large oval saw-edged leaves which are about 4-6 in. long.
Bigleaf Hydrangea is a perennial shrub growing to 7 ft tall by 8 ft broad which bears large globular heads of flowers about 6-8 in. across.
Hydrangea macrophylla is native to the seaside habitats as well as mountains in Japan, from Honshu southwards.
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Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) thrives in bright light away from direct sunlight, cool and humid conditions and consistently moist, rich, well-drained soils coupled with fortnightly feeding during the growing season.
Hydrangea macrophylla requires regular pruning to keep it neat as well as control control growth to keep it compact. It needs annual repotting after flowering is over for a lush growth. Continue reading for more on these growing conditions and how to provide them.
Bigleaf Hydrangea grows best under bright light away from direct sunlight. If light is not adequate, it will grow slowly and will not bloom.
If the natural lighting is not adequate instal a grow light to supplement it.
Water Bigleaf Hydrangea thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to maintain the soil moist at all times.
Cut down on watering in the cold period to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time but do not let the soil dry out completely.
Confirm that the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil as it can result in root-rot.
Avoid wetting the blooms as it can lead to rotting. Water from the bottom instead.
Mophead Hydrangea thrives in cool temperature with a maximum of 160C. The cool temperature prolongs the flowering period.
Average room humidity is ideal for Bigleaf Hydrangea Plant though it benefits from high humidity. To elevate humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
Feed French Hydrangea with a phosphorous-rich, water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal.
Prune Bigleaf Hydrangea by removing dead blooms and leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. The blooms can also be cut and preserved in a vase as dry flowers.
Repot Lacecap Hydrangea and cutback the stems to half their height after flowering is over to encourage new growth and prevent the plant from becoming too large. Place it in a cool place and reduce watering and continue feeding.
Repot Hortensia during the growing season when flowering is over. To keep it small, cutback the stems to half their height and continue to water and feed. This will encourage a lush growth.
Use a pot only one size larger than the current one to avoid overpotting. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot.
The best soil for Bigleaf Hydrangea should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients. Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this plant.
Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings.
Take stem cuttings of about 4-6 in. from a healthy Bigleaf Hydrangea and ensure each cutting has at least 2 nodes.
Dip the lower cut end cuttings in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.
Insert the cutting in moist free-draining soil and cover the set up with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect in order to promote rooting.
Place the set up in a warm, brightly lit spot away from direct sunlight to avoid sunburn.
Allow the new Mophead Hydrangea plants to be well established before transplanting after which routine care can begin.
Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) problems indoors include leaf drop, yellowing, lack of blooms, pests and diseases among others which are caused by improper care. Continue reading, herebelow is a detailed account on these problems and how to fix them.
Bigleaf Hydrangea yellowing and dropping leaves are due to underwatering. Water Lacecap Hydrangea thoroughly during the growing season and maintain the soil moist at all times.
Decrease watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist and never allow the soil to dry out completely.
Bigleaf Hydrangea not blooming (flowering) is due to two possible reasons. One possible reason is too little light.
Move the plant to a brighter spot where it will receive bright light away from direct sunlight or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is inadequate.
The second possible reason for French Hydrangea not blooming (flowering) is feeding it with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer which promotes foliage growth at the expense of flowers.
Feed Hortensia with a phosphorous-rich, water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season but do not feed during the cold season.
Common pests in Bigleaf Hydrangea are spider mites and aphids which are more likely to attack in hot and dry conditions (low humidity).
To raise air humidity and discourage pest infestation, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.
Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.
All parts of Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA. If ingested it can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
Mophead Hydrangea produces a sap which can cause dermatitis in sensitive skin. Always wear gloves when handling it and keep it out of the reach of children and pets to avoid accidental consumption.