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Pacific Horticulture"Concise and extremely informative entries on the history, taxonomy, and general cultivation of the genus."—Dan Hinkley, Pacific Horticulture, Spring 2005
— Dan Hinkley
Famed for their durability, beauty, and diversity, hydrangeas are enjoying a renaissance in today's gardens. These classic garden shrubs provide bold color — from pink to purple, blue to white — in midsummer to midautumn, when few other plants are in bloom. Many hundreds of dramatic species, hybrids, and horticultural selections are available to the enthusiast to fill every possible niche in the garden. For the first time, a thorough encyclopedia shows in full color the range of flowering treasures available. ...
Famed for their durability, beauty, and diversity, hydrangeas are enjoying a renaissance in today's gardens. These classic garden shrubs provide bold color — from pink to purple, blue to white — in midsummer to midautumn, when few other plants are in bloom. Many hundreds of dramatic species, hybrids, and horticultural selections are available to the enthusiast to fill every possible niche in the garden. For the first time, a thorough encyclopedia shows in full color the range of flowering treasures available. With complete information on cultivation, propagation, and pests and diseases, The Encyclopedia of Hydrangeas promises to help every discerning gardener ensure planting success. Lavishly illustrated with approximately 800 photographs, the concise descriptions present more than 1000 hydrangea species, subspecies, varieties, and cultivars. All types of hydrangeas are included, from blousy mopheads to delicate lacecaps, from oakleafs to climbers. This incredible resource provides gardeners with the tools needed to discover the many true gems in this lovely group of plants.
Almost all hydrangeas are easy to propagate by softwood cuttings. A greenhouse is not needed for most cuttings of Hydrangea macrophylla and H. serrata, although putting the cuttings under glass speeds up the rooting process. Softwood cuttings are usually taken in midsummer, July to August, but the best time can vary with local circumstances. It is important that the shoots have stopped growing and started to ripen off a little, but they should not have turned brown and woody yet.
In general, hydrangeas are easy to root, and cuttings with two pairs of buds give the best results. The pair at the bottom of the cutting is inserted in the rooting medium, while the higher pair with two leaves is left exposed. If the leaves are large, they should be pruned to half the blade. This practice helps to decrease the respiration of the cuttings.
Single cuttings are usually inserted in 7-cm (ca. 3-inch) pots or in trays with prefabricated little pots. Well-rooted cuttings can be potted in 3-liter (ca. 0.5 gallon) pots in March, and these usually grow into plants with two to three branches and few flowers. For a good display of flowers, the cuttings need to grow another year. Weak cuttings are potted in 9-cm (ca. 4-inch) pots and left in the frame or greenhouse. It is possible to start cuttings in the open field instead of pots, again depending on the climate. In the middle of the 20th century almost all hydrangeas for garden use were grown in the open field. It was only toward the end of the century that pot-grown plants took over.
Professional growers of potted hydrangeas use a more complicated method, pruning the plants mechanically or chemically in various stages of their development, cooling them in slightly refrigerated warehouses to make sure that the plants will develop at least three to five flowers and remain reasonably compact. These treatments are necessary to ensure a crop that flowers reliably on a predictable date in a predictable fashion, but they are not necessary to ensure good and healthy plants. On the contrary, plants treated in this manner, especially those grown indoors, have a more difficult time becoming established in the garden than those grown in the old-fashioned way outdoors. Yet, the retail market demands a visually attractive product that can easily lure consumers into buying a hortensia, so growers choose to grow plants indoors even though the average gardener is better served by an outdoor-grown nonflowering plant.
Growing potted hydrangeas by the newer, more complicated method limits the number of cultivars that can be grown. Few plants respond well to such treatment, especially among cultivars of Hydrangea macrophylla. Many cultivars do not reliably produce enough flowers when young, so commercial growers ignore the beautiful ones among them to satisfy their customers' needs for flowering plants.
In addition to softwood cuttings, gardeners use other methods to