Grow some happiness with hydrangeas

Bringing beauty to your home and garden can be simple when you grow hydrangeas.

Their big, bushy flowers come in a variety of shades of blue, purple, rose, violet and green.

They’re easy to grow, have a long season of bloom — generally late spring to early fall — and are great for mass landscape, border plantings or container plants. The large, eye-catching hydrangea blossoms also can be enjoyed as cut or dried flowers.

To help you create a gorgeous hydrangea garden, here are some hints from experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

• Don’t be concerned if your pink hydrangea develops blue flowers. As hydrangea flowers age on the plant, they often change colors.

• Hydrangeas grow best in moist, well-drained soil.

• Most hydrangeas benefit from some shade, though deep shade can greatly reduce flowering.

• Established hydrangea plants may benefit from regular pruning. Removing about a third of the oldest stems each year will result in a fuller, healthier plant.

• Gardeners also may want to prune to control height or to re­move old flower heads.

• One of the easiest ways to preserve the flowers is to let them dry almost completely on the plant.

Don’t collect them until the flowers have developed a papery feel. On a dry day with low humidity, cut the stems the length you need for your floral arrangements.

Strip off all leaves and then find a dry place indoors where the flowers can finish drying.

Flowers can be hung upside down while being dried or placed in a vase with or without water.