Hydrangeas are originally from Japan, China, Indonesia, as well as certain parts of North and South America. Their name comes from the Greek word for “water vessel” and fitting with their name, they need a lot of water. Hydrangeas were brought to England in 1788 where the popularity skyrocketed. The most common species is the Hydrangea macrophylla, which is the big-leaf hydrangea native to Japan. These beautiful flowers come in many colors, in particular white, pink, blue, and purple. Hydrangeas are unique in that their color can change color depending on the acidity of the soil in which they grow.
Hydrangeas are not only used for their aesthetic qualities. Certain serrata forms make sweet herbal teas. Native Americans used the roots as a diuretic and detoxifier and the bark as a healing method to cure muscle sprains and burns. Some still use hydrangeas today to treat bladder problems and kidney stones. In ancient folklore if a witch cursed an unlucky person, the hydrangea could be used to break the spell.
There are approximately 70 species of hydrangeas. They most commonly grow in early spring and blossom until late fall. Some believe that hydrangeas are a representation of vanity and boastfulness, but most feel that they convey anything that is heartfelt, especially gratefulness towards the recipient.