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9/10/2009 12:00

Contact: Margret Delves-Broughton
(860) 496-9624 x6220

White Flower Farm Recommends the Best Varieties

Fall is a perfect time to harvest beautiful hydrangea flowers for cut arrangements and drying. There are more kinds of hydrangeas than ever, from large mopheads and oakleaf varieties to delicate lacecaps, offering gorgeous blooms in blue, white, or pink. White Flower Farm ( likes these varieties best:

**Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer® - First introduced 5 years ago, this bigleaf hydrangea was a breakthrough because it blooms on both old and new wood, resulting in flowers throughout the growing season even in colder zones. The flower heads measure 9 inches across and are blue in acid soil and pink in alkaline soil. This cold-hardy variety resembles a florist hydrangea and is great for fresh bouquets rather than dried..

**Hydrangea serrata 'Fuji Waterfall' -- This lacecap hydrangea has unusual double flowers resembling miniature water lilies. The striking flower heads are long lasting when cut and can be harvested mid-season for several weeks. Hardy to zone 6, plants needs some protection in winter.

**Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' -- Limelight is very cold hardy and produces pistachio-hued blooms that turn pink and mauve in the fall. It makes a beautiful cut flower that dries well as it ages to pink. Flowers are produced in the late summer and fall. Combine this with Endless Summer(tm) for flower production all season long.

**Hydrangea paniculata 'Quick Fire' - Earlier blooming than the classic "Pee Gee" Hydrangea, 'Quick Fire' opens its creamy flowers in July on red stems. The flowers turn to deep pink with red highlights during the fall, making it perfect for cutting and drying.

**Hydrangea paniculata 'Little Lamb' -- Ideal for small gardens, this compact shrub blooms over a long season in sun or part shade. The flower heads are white and smaller than others, but each plant produces many flowers from mid-summer to fall. Easy to grow and cold hardy as well.

White Flower Farm offers these tips on cutting hydrangea stems and keeping the flowers at their best:

Harvest flowers early in the day when the temperature is cooler and the sun hasn't had a chance to cause wilting.

Once inside, re-cut the ends of the woody stems on an angle and make several small, shallow cuts up the stem with a knife. Dissolve floral preservative in a container of cold water and plunge the stems in all the way up to the flower heads.

Place the container in a cool area away from direct sunlight for several hours or overnight. Allow the flowers to fully hydrate before using in an arrangement.

After arranging in a vase, remember to re-cut the stem ends every few days and change the water to keep it clean so it won't clog the stems.

To dry hydrangea flowers, hang the stems upside down in a dry part of the house or garage. They also can be dried by standing in a vase without water (the paniculata types dry better this way than the macrophyllas do). Our favorite varieties for drying include: Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora (known as the "Pee Gee" hydrangea), 'Limelight', 'Little Lamb', and 'Tardiva'.

Finally, here is some general information about hydrangeas. And remember that if you don't have any planted now, you can always start thinking of next year's garden:

Sunlight, pruning time and fertilizer all affect flower production on hydrangeas.

Most hydrangeas need good sunlight to bloom and some require full sun (6 or more hours of direct sun a day). Read your plant labels to make sure you have planted them in the proper site.

Pruning your shrub at the wrong time can remove flower buds that had formed for the following season. The correct time to prune differs, so look on the plant label to find out what variety of hydrangea you are growing.

When cutting flowers, do not cut the stems too long, as it may decrease the plant's growth and flowering later.

If you want to produce blue flowers on a bigleaf hydrangea, your soil should have an acid pH (4.5 to 6) and you should use a fertilizer that's low in phosphorus. Phosphorus prevents the uptake of aluminum, and aluminum is what gives the flowers good blue color. For pink flowers, make sure your soil has a slightly acid to neutral pH (pH 6.5 to 7). Aluminum is less available to plants when the soil pH is near neutral. Applying lime to your soil will raise the pH over time.

Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts. Barb is also available for interviews upon request. Please contact Margret Delves-Broughton, (860) 496-9624, ext 6220,

White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in northwest Connecticut. Since 1950, they have been gathering, evaluating, growing, and selling a wide range of annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and houseplants representing the very best varieties from around the world. Plants shipped are true to name, free of disease, and in prime condition for growing. While in the area, stop by White Flower Farm with its five acres of display gardens, or visit, where you will also find helpful gardening information including how-to videos. White Flower Farm -- we make your garden grow.

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