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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Hydrangea macrophylla - Mophead hydrangea

I must say that this was one of the plants that I had cultivated when I first began gardening. It was very much my first experiences, the days where I haven't even started blogging or taking pictures of any records of it. 

So much so, I detest growing this one as it seemed to be an impossible task as it never bloomed. Unless of course - I have a nice beautiful foliage plants to content with - no matter how much fertilizers I had pumped it - it refused to flower.

Eventually, I had given those huge plants with their pots to a friend who I thought will able to care for it and it end up dead within weeks. I guess not many people are gardeners - they all desire flowers and plants but don't take the trouble to care for them. I take it as it is human nature - when something comes for free - it's always taken for granted (since it is not paid for - so, why worry)

Anyway enough with my sad story;
Some basic information about this one - known as Hydrangea macrophylla commonly known as bigleaf hydrangea, French hydrangea, lacecap hydrangea, mophead hydrangea, penny mac and hortensia.

Locally known as "Bunga Tiga Bulan" meaning "3 months flower" - spanning the bloom time that last for a season. 

These pictures are taken from the local Nursery from "Sg.Buloh Nursery" I wanted to show you have these plants are marketed here. Understanding this plant is considered a big deal especially you would be saving money, time and heart-ache handling the expectation as many nursery owners are very much like businessman and not gardeners. 

Their ideology is very much based on the sale of the plants and rarely know much about the plants or plant care (let alone - even plant ID may be challenge for them)

There are few types only in Malaysia - the variants and some rare varieties that may have been imported and brought here for cultivation. Basically there just 2 types - the highland type and the lowland type.

The Highland Type may have an excellent bloom formation - often it comes from Cameron Highland and the flower is already bloomed in their prime when sold in nursery. It will last around another 2-3 months but it may never bloom again after that season. These all appear to be like in a dwarf stage which I'm suspecting that they might be (forced root) after they had set in bud-bloom.

These are however considered as BATA plants (Buy And Throw Away Plants) 
Once their blooms are spend - it's often discard and thrown away, just like a cut flower types - these last longer in indoor setting - like by a sunny window stand. 

However, all are not lost, they can still be cultivated as a perennial plant and may last for many years when cared properly.

The local variety however have been acclimatized over the years and does bear flowers but they are not that showy and blooms lesser compared to the highland ones. The plus point is that they do flower in the hot lowland climate in comparison to the highland ones. Again, it is a contention that can only be verified by experienced gardeners. I know few gardeners who still having the highland ones that doing everything that is possible on the fertiliser/placement/watering and all - and it still fail to bloom.

Kampung Hydrangea - Bunga Tiga Bulan

A little information on the local variety - the leaves appears slightly lime light green in color (the highland ones are much darker green) The flower buds are smaller and the blooms appear in light blue: cyan with slight greenish texture at the center. Eventually the blooms gets bigger over the weeks and when it is in full bloom, it will turn to green almost feel like a plastic flower - often it was used as dried flowers as indoor decoration. 

I won't recommend this if you have a dust problem indoors as it will appear to be pathetic when the blooms collect dust on the petals.

Care & Maintenance of Hydrangea:

It is fairly easy plant if you had purchased it when it is still in bloom. Just water it when the medium is slightly dry, you can rewater it when the leaves appears droopy. This is a very thirsty plant - and so it may require twice a day watering and many times over on a hot day.

It prefers indirect bright light - too hot sun can burn and scorch the blooms.
However, the right balance is very important for the next blooming - too shaded the leaves appears lovely but it will never bloom / Too hot and direct sun - the leaves will get burned and the plant get under stress. Ideally the best placement is kept where it gets good sunlight in the morning and shaded by the noon - direct sun.


I noticed that if not most / all of the medium that been planted that come from the nursery are cocopeat. Though it is very good for new cut plant for root development - it is not ideal for long-termed plants. These potted plants in this medium will slowly succumb to root-rot and eventually die away within few months.

If you plan to keep for long-term - you may need to change the medium with 50% fast draining medium & 50% rich compost medium. 


The flowers change colors due to PH difference - they all are from the same plant.
When planted in acidic soils around PH 4.5 to 5.5 it produce blue flowers and when in Alkaline soils, pH of 6.0 or more, are more likely to produce pink blooms.

The presence of aluminum in the plant ultimately determines the color of the blooms.

Often Soap washed water does the trick in increasing the PH turning the flowers to Blue.
To Turn to Pink - You may use Epsom salt, eggshell or even coffee fertilizer.


The best chance are the green soft cutting. The branch should be about 5-6" long where there is a crown rosette of leaves. Remove the lower leaves at the bottom - at least 2-3 leaf nodes and poke into the planting medium in a pot. Place it in a cool bright shade.

It will take root and may able see new growth in few weeks time.


This plant does require pruning time to time for it to focus it's growth on blooming or else, the plant will focus only on in its growth and will rarely flowers.

The comparison of Kampung Hydrangea (picture above) for comparison.

This plant do require a big space to grow and therefore do require an ideal location for it too. Not too hot and not too shaded. Not too much water or the roots may rot and not too less water and the plant will wilt away. It is like finding the right balance. 

Truly an amazing plant to grow - it does need attention and care.
And so, it is not a care free plant where it can grow abandoned - it may but it may not give beautiful blooms.

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
My Malaysian Tropical Garden mainly focused on unique and colorful plants ranging from rare to common plants all around the tropical belt across the world. Ideal for inspiration for challenging areas in the garden space - indoor gardening, balcony gardening and small green spaces especially for ariods, bromeliads, begonias, edibles, cascading & vertical garden plants, succulents & cacti, orchids, together with both shade and sun loving plants.

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