While traditionally seen as an ‘old-fashioned’ flower, hydrangeas have certainly made a comeback in the last few years and rightly so, as they have got to be among the prettiest of blooms around thanks to their flamboyant shape and brilliant hues. While you may remember a huge hydrangea bush growing in your Grandma’s garden, some varieties will happily grow in pots or raised garden beds and are so easy and rewarding for plant-newbies. Apart from the white flowering varieties, hydrangeas can actually change colour depending on the acidity of the soil. Acidic soil (pH 4.5-5) will ensure blue blooms and more alkaline or neutral soil will produce mauve and pinks and if you so desire you can actually manipulate the soil to change their look!
What you’ll need
Hydrangea plant from your local nursery (we went for the blue mophead variety)
Good quality potting mix
Organic liquid fertiliser
How to grow Hydrangeas
- Choose a semi-shaded position for your garden bed.
- Prepare your garden bed with quality potting mix and add water crystals.
- Now you’re ready to plant your hydrangeas.
- They are rather thirsty plants so water daily to avoid them drying out. If they look like they’re wilting it’s a pretty clear sign they need more to drink.
- Use an organic liquid fertiliser every once in a while to improve growth.
- Prune anytime for indoor flower arrangements and once the growing season is over in winter. Only trim back the stems that have flowered and leave a couple of flowering shoots in place.
- If you would like to change their colour, add dolomitic lime to the soil of blue hydrangeas to make them pink and aluminium sulphate to make pink hydrangeas blue. Bare in mind, this may take a little while to take effect!
Aunty Nat’s Chocolate Hydrangea cupcakes
While you don’t actually use fresh hydrangea blooms for this recipe, your flourishing garden bed will inspire you to make these delicious hydrangea- resembling cupcakes!
100g dark chocolate
1 cup (250mL) water
125g butter, softened
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup plain flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
Vanilla cream cheese Icing
½ cup butter
220g cream cheese
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cream
Food colouring of your choice.
- Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a muffin pan with about 16 cupcake cases.
- Combine chocolate and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until just combined. Add flour and cocoa powder and stir, followed by the melted chocolate mixture. Spoon evenly among cupcake cases and cook for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
- For the icing, beat butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend for about 30 seconds. Add vanilla extract and sugar on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed until it gets fluffy. Slowly add cream, a little bit at a time and beat for another minute. Colour with a few drops of your chosen food colouring (we usually choose blue!).
- Fit a piping bag with a jumbo star tip, fill with icing and pipe large loose star shapes around the edge of the cupcake and then fill in the centre. If the icing gets soft, just pop it into the fridge for 15 or so minutes. Enjoy!