Just about now, hydrangea bushes are starting to shoot fresh new green leaves. You might not be able to see it yet, but soon enough, their big beautiful blooms will start to blossom and front gardens up and down the land will be graced with these gorgeous flowers from late spring to late autumn.

Mop head and lacecap varieties come complete with an amazing colour changing party trick. Depending on the pH of soil, these shrubs will be blue in acidic soil, mauve in acid to neutral, and pink in alkaline. Whites and green varieties generally stay the same colour. Be aware that tap water can affect the colour depending on the pH of the water in your area. As rainwater generally doesn’t make a difference, make sure you water using water collected in a butt.

You can add compounds to the soil to heighten the colour, which works especially well in planter-grown hydrangea (find these in your local garden centre). The colour will change again in late summer as part of the dying process and this cannot be altered.

You can test the pH of your soil with a simple kit form the garden centre, or leave it to the fates by planting a colour-changing hydrangea and find the answer that way.
Hydrangeas come in shrub and climber form. Climbers can grow up to 15m and are just perfect for one of our lovely pergolas. We’ve selected three of our faves:

Hydrangea serrate ‘Graciosa’ has large, blue petals around the outer perimeter, with tiny blooms in the centre.

• Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is a white variety with puffy, round blooms of very small flowers. This one grows to about 2m high.

• Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blaumeise’ has beautiful, vivid purple flowers so they are ideal for an acidic soil – especially if you want to keep them that way. It’s one of the lacecaps so has larger flowers around a central core of tiny blooms.

Planting in borders
Dig a hole larger than the pot size. Add organic material or compost to the bottom. Gently spread the roots if they are tightly packed to encourage them to spread out. Pop the plant in the hole making sure the crown is even with the ground level. Refill the hole and pat down firmly. Water well and watch your happy hydrangea grow, grow, grow.

In a planter
Starting with our classic 60 litre Olea planter, fill the bottom with broken crockery or small stones and course gravel placed carefully over the geo-textile inner liner. The Olea range comes with ready-made drainage holes, and feet, to offer some clearance between the surface and the planter, so you needn’t worry too much about additional drainage. Do remember to protect from frost in the winter with horticultural fleece and a good layer of mulch.

Also, remember that plants in a planter need a little more attention when it comes to watering and feeding.

Fill your planter up with good quality peat-free soil and remember that plants in containers can dry out very quickly. Make sure you water them often, and thoroughly. Also make sure you add weekly liquid fertiliser to keep your hydrangea happily fed and the blooms looking as gorgeous as possible.