hydrangeaThese fashionable blooms are favorites of florists and consumers alike. 

big heads  Pronounced “hy-DRAN-juh” or “hy-DRAN-jee-uh,” these blooms are popular for their large, showy flower heads, comprising dense clusters of small flat four-petaled florets. The heads are most often rounded (H. macrophylla, which are commonly known as hortensias, big-leaf Hydrangeas, French Hydrangeasand garden Hydrangeas), but they also can by pyramidal in shape (H. paniculata, commonly known as panicle or peegee Hydrangeas).

double header  Within the H. macrophylla (mak-row-FILL-uh) species are two types of flower heads: 1) “mopheads” (shown here), which have rounded, densely massed clusters of florets, and 2) “lacecaps,” which have outer rings of florets surrounding flat clusters of small flower buds that resemble tiny berries.

hues news  Hydrangeas are available in a wide range of whites; pinks; violets (red-violet, blue-violet, lavender, purple); blues; greens; and even reddish-wines and browns, as well as bicolors and multicolors. New varieties are continuously being genetically engineered, creating new colors, and growers also use absorption and spray dyes to alterHydrangea hues.

an endless season  Once available only in late spring and summer, Hydrangeas are now a year-round cut-flower crop from both domestic and foreign growers. Peak season, however, is March through October.

outside the box  Unpack Hydrangeas immediately on arrival in your store, and remove any stem bindings and sleeves.

ready for a drink  Remove any foliage that would be under water, then cut at least 1 inch off each stem, at an angle, with a sharp knife or pruner (do not crush or smash the stems). This will remove debris and stem-plugging microbes in the stem ends.

Immediately after cutting, dip or place the stem ends into a hydration solution to help these thirsty flowers absorb flower-food solution more quickly and easily.

Following the hydration solution treatment, place Hydrangeas into a clean container(s) with lukewarm (100 F to 110 F) properly proportioned flower-food solution.

cold care  After processing Hydrangeas, place them into a floral cooler, at 36 F to 41 F, to hydrate for at least two hours before selling or arranging them. These flowers do not tolerate prolonged refrigeration well, however, so sell them within three days of receipt.

the essence of h2o  Hydrangeas are heavy drinkers and can wilt easily, so check the water level in their storage and arrangement containers daily, and change the water and recut the stems every other day. Frequent light misting can be beneficial for flowers at room temperature. Antitranspirant sprays also will assist in extending these flowers’ lasting quality. Pinch off florets as they fade.

ethyl’s influence  Hydrangeas may exhibit flower shattering when exposed to ethylene gas. Check with your supplier to confirm that an ethylene inhibitor is applied at the grower or during transportation. Also, protect these flowers from sources of ethylene gas (fruit, decaying flowers/foliage, cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust) in your store and during delivery.

life and afterlife  Depending on care and variety, cut Hydrangeas can last five to 10 days at the consumer level, and, typically, they do best in vase arrangements.

In many cases, Hydrangea flower heads will dry naturally, upright or upside down, or they can be preserved in a solution of glycerin and water. Individual florets are ideal for pressing.

a new family  These flowers have been long classified in the Saxifragaceae(saxifrage) family; however, in recent years, they have been reclassified into the newerHydrangeaceae family. A close relative is mock orange (Philadelphus).