Hydrangea Macrophylla (hy-DRAN-jee-uh mak-roh-FIL-uh ) are flowering shrubs that belongs to the family Hydrangeacea.
It was been given the name macrophylla, meanings large/long leaf, due to its appearance.
Native to Korea and Japan and has been naturalized in China, New Zealand, and the Americas.
It is mostly found in mountains and seaside landscapes.
It is known by several common names:
- French Hydrangea
- Bigleaf Hydrangea
- Mophead Hydrangea
- Penny Mac
- Lacecap Hydrangea
This is one of the only hydrangea species that grow indoors.
It is a popular plant due to easy-care nature and beautiful blooms that come in a number of different flower color shades including white, pink, purple, and blue.
French Hydrangea Macrophylla Care
Size and Growth
Bigleaf Hydrangeas have a fast growth rate. They are low growing deciduous shrubs that usually reach up to a height of 7’ feet tall with a slightly wider spread of 8’ feet.
Flowers from this plant generally have large flower heads are roughly 4” to 6” inches long with a width of 3” to 5” inches.
However, in certain situations, they may grow bigger. They are hardy to grow in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 9.
Flowering and Fragrance
This plant is characterized by its beautiful blooms.
Some varieties known as Endless Summer Hydrangeas such as ‘Dooley,’ and ‘Blushing Bride’ flower on new growth and old wood.
Bloom time runs from early summer to the beginning of winter with large flower heads and heart-shaped leaves.
The dark green foliage has opposite 4” to 8” inch long leaves in a deep green color.
Blooms can be in a range of colors from blue to purple, pink, reddish fuchsia, and white.
This is dependent on the soil pH level of where the shrub is planted. Learn How To make Hydrangeas have blue flowers here.
The flowers generally have no fragrance.
Light and Temperature
While these plants love good light, be careful not to give them too much full sun or direct sunlight as this could damage them.
Plants grow well with morning sun and partial shade throughout the day.
Hydrangeas are not hardy in extremely hot or dry climates. They bloom best when the temperature is below 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
If it is kept at room temperature, the flower buds die out pretty fast.
Watering and Feeding
The Hortensia hydrangea has medium to high watering requirements.
Water frequently to keep the soil moist.
If the plant dries out, it will collapse and the flowering period will be cut short.
This plant needs to be fed once or twice during the summer months.
This can be done with organic matter if you want an alternative to traditional fertilizers.
Do not fertilize towards the end of summer and be careful not to over fertilize as it can scorch the leaves of the plant.
Soil and Transplanting
French Hydrangeas require moist, fertile well-drained soil.
The soil pH level is an important factor in determining the color of French hydrangea blooms.
Acidic soil with a pH level below 7 will likely produce blue hydrangea flowers whereas alkaline soils with a pH above 7 will produce shades of pink flowers.
This is an easy plant to transplant, but best done in the fall after the bushes have turned dormant.
Grooming and Maintenance
These plants do not need extensive pruning.
However, you can cut back the stems after flowering to get rid of any weak or wilting leaves and flowers.
NOTE: The variety ‘Nikko Blue,’ blooms on old growth. Prune after the summer flowering season
Other Hydrangea cousins of interest:
How To Propagate Mophead Hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla should not be propagated if they are being grown indoors.
For plants growing outdoors, propagate the plant using cuttings from the base of the plant.
Remove all the excess leaves
Put the cutting in a well-drained moist soil mix
Keep it covered by plastic until it has taken root.
The ideal time for taking cuttings is in the late summer months or towards the beginning of fall.
French Hydrangea Pest or Disease Problems
While generally free of pests and bugs, these plants are susceptible to deer damage.
They can also develop leaf spots, bacterial wilt, bud blight, and powdery mildew (Erysiphe polygoni).
Some of these problems can be from over fertilizing or underwatering.
This plant can be toxic if eaten in large quantities and induce nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
Uses For French Hydrangea
The Hydrangea macrophylla plant is the only type of hydrangea to grow indoors as a houseplant.
To use it outdoors, it works as a beautiful shrub border, as part of a mass planting to add color and texture.
They can also be used as cut flowers or as foundation and container plants.
Due to their high salt tolerance, they also make excellent seaside flowers.