Every summer at this time we all hear it at least once, “What Makes Nantucket Hydrangeas so blue?” We have pink and white colors but it’s the blue that knocks the socks off everyone. They ooh and aah and take lots of pictures. There are many theories, from the experts and the amateur gardeners. But when I contacted Graig Beni, owner and operator of Surfing Hydrangeas Nursery on Somerset Road, he said the color is affected by the relative acidity of the soil. Agents such as aluminum or iron will usually produce a bright blue color so we can assume that Nantucket soil gets all the credit. If you add aluminum to the soil they can go from pink to blue. An alkaline soil will produce flowers more pink.
Last year my hydrangea bushes that border the back deck did not blossom. I chalked it up to maybe too much pruning in the fall. But then this year, I’ve got a bonanza of blossoms. It can’t be the result of our horrible winter. But I’m grateful for whatever reason, especially since the hudrangea bushes are not only very old but have been transplanted several times while doing work on my house. So I’m not exactly the expert to advse anyone how to get the best and bluest hydrangeas but I do know how to ask the experts which I did for my book, Nantucket Cottages & Gardens. No cottage garden is complete without a hydrangea bush.
If you want to cultivate hydrangeas you can do better than taking the advice from the American Hydrangea Society. Yes, there really is such an organization and they are the last word in all things hydrangea. Here’s what they have to say about rooting cuttings from hydrangeas included in my book. I like these directions because they’re simple and easy to follow.