Changing the color of a hydrangea

Discussion in 'Hydrangea' started by Marcie, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. Marcie

    Marcie New Seed

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    I just bought my first hydrangea and want to know about changing the color. If i want blue blooms can i use Miracle Grow for acid loving plants? Will it harm the plant if i use it? If i can't use that what can i use to change the blooms to blue? Thank you for any help you may have.
     



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  2. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Hi Marcie and welcome to GardenStew. Hope you're going to enjoy the forums. :D

    Now about your hydrangea. If you want pink/red flowers then the plant should be put into alkaline soil. If it's blue you want then it's acid soil it requires. The Miracle Grow for acid loving plants will not affect the plants growth as long as you follow the directions on the packaging. There is another way, so I am told, that you can change the colour of the blooms and that is to add food colouring when you water the plant. I haven't tried this myself but I can't see that a natural food colouring would do any damage. I have a blue hydrangea myself but last year the flowers were pink and purple as I mulched with bark chippings.

    Hope this helps you out a little.
     
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  3. Frank

    Frank Happy Gardening Staff Member Administrator

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    Welcome to the forums Marcie :smt038 I hope you have great time here! Maybe you can tell us about yourself here http://www.gardenstew.com/viewtopic.php?t=3

    Have you tested the pH of your soil? Is it acid or alkaline? This would provide you with a good measure of how easy it will be to change the pH of your soil to an acidic value (less than 7 on the scale). Acidic soil is required to give the hydrangea a blue colour. You can change the acidity of the soil surrounding the hydrangea by adding aluminium sulfate. Add 1/2 oz (1 Tbsp) of aluminium sulfate per gallon of water around hydrangeas of at least 2-3 years throughout the growing season. Water well in advance of adding the aluminum sulfate and be cautious not to burn the roots.

    Also recommended to change the acidity of the soil are grass clippings, coffee grounds and fruit and veg peels :)

    Hope this helps!
     
  4. Marcie

    Marcie New Seed

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    Thank you for your quick responses. It definately helps!
     
  5. PeggySuetheStew

    PeggySuetheStew Seedling

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    My hydrangea's (finally) are blooming and are a beautiful combination of colors, blue, purplish, and some pink! I know there is a tri color variety, but this is not mine, I think the soil here just has lots of different stuff going on! I do have a pink miniature hydrangea nearby and it is a beautiful dark, hot pink! Good luck!
     
  6. Frank

    Frank Happy Gardening Staff Member Administrator

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    That's great news Peggy! Glad to hear your hydrangeas are healthy :smt023 Have you ever done a pH test? Sounds like you have a lot of different levels going on in your soil.
     
  7. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Soooooo glad they've flowered for you. They certainly sound lovely Peggy!!! :D Any chance of a piccie? Mine haven't flowered yet but I suppose it's because of our delightful Scottish weather. :D :D
     
  8. Maine Gardener

    Maine Gardener New Seed

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    Hydrangeas

    I have 2 hydrangeas that have bloomed in the past, but not this year - I think we did have a later frost, however, others in the area are blooming . . .any ideas as to why mine aren't blooming? I did not prune them. Also, how do you test the ph level of your soil? You also mentioned that you can change the acidity of the soil by adding coffee grounds - does that make the soil more or less acid?

    Thanks!
    :D
     
  9. Frank

    Frank Happy Gardening Staff Member Administrator

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    Hi Maine Gardener and a big HI to GardenStew. :p

    Sorry to hear about your hydrangeas. You said there may have been a frost in late spring, how protected are your hydrangeas compared to the others in your areas? It is very possible that the developing buds where damaged by the freeze so this may the root of your problem. You did say however that others in the area are blooming so further investigation may be needed.

    Do they look relatively healthy and free from diseases? Have they been upset in any way by any little critters, i.e mischevious wildlife?

    If you want to test the pH of your soil you can do this by purchasing a soil test kit which should be available at most garden centres. Also look at this site http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/htbg/mod ... _ph2.shtml and this topic Garden Soil Preparation, pH Tips

    Adding coffee grounds to your soil increases the acidity of your soil i.e. lowering the pH value. Other organic methods of increasing the acidity of your soil include adding fruit and veg peels and also grass clippings. Having acidic soil (low pH) gives you blue hydrangea blooms and having alkaline soil (higher pH - 7.0 and above) gives you pink hydrangea blooms.

    Please try to provide any additional information about your hydrangeas surroundings and health and we will do our best to get to the bottom of your problem.
     
  10. Maine Gardener

    Maine Gardener New Seed

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    Hydrangeas

    Thanks for your reply - I will try the coffee grounds for next years blooms (hopefully!)

    As far as additional info, the hydrangeas are located in a partial shade location, in the front of our house in somewhat of a clay based soil. They look beautiful other than no blooms - the hosta and azalea next to them were great this year.

    Any thoughts you have are appreciated! There is always next year! As far as pruning goes, if and when and how should you prune hydrangeas? These are the low growing bush type, not the tree type. Also, when should you prune lilacs?

    Thanks!
     
  11. Frank

    Frank Happy Gardening Staff Member Administrator

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  12. edrny

    edrny New Seed

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    I was unaware that the color was so closely tied to soil pH. That's amazing! Thanks for the good work here!
     
  13. teddybear

    teddybear In Flower

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    I've heard of food coloring for carnations and such.
    On hydrangea if you get pick, blue, and purple your soil is neutral so you get bits and pieces of both. Pink is alkaline, manure will help get pink. Blue is acidic. They really like the acid fertilizer but for changing the color it is not dependable and you almost drown your plants trying to get the results you want. The best way I have heard is to drive a 6" piece of rebar next to the roots. It makes the soil acidic while it rust. Your grandmother use to plant nails, but everything is coated any more. Also don't buy the rebar, any construction, cement, ect. site will have lots of bent pieces they will give you.
     
  14. StarLiteFarms

    StarLiteFarms Seedling

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    My parents poured a small amount of left over ashes from the fire place in their flower beds on top of their Hydrangea roots.. This changed their colors :)
     

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