South African Christmas Roses

A showy Hydrangea macrophylla flower. CC Pixabay

While we think Hellebores are Christmas Roses, Hydrangeas are commonly known as Christmas Roses in South Africa. They are appreciated as prolific bloomers. While we freeze in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas is hot in the Southern Hemisphere. Hydrangeas begin blooming in November there and continue flowering into the New Year. Here, the summer’s showy Hydrangea flowers are spent shadows of their former glory until Jack Frost makes them sparkle anew.

Origin and Colours

Hydrangea in full bloom in August in Cornish sunshine with a mixture of blue and pink shades. © Karen Andrews

Hydrangeas are neither indigenous to the UK or South Africa. The popular Hydrangea macrophylla is native to Japan. It has been naturalised in a number countries across the world. The flowers are noted for their colour variations according to soil pH. Hydrangea macrophylla come in shades of blue, red, pink, light purple or dark purple. Acidic soil produces a blue flower, while an alkaline soil tends towards pink.

Plant Family

The Hydrangea genus belongs in the Hydrangeaceae or Hortensia family and Cornales order. There are around 66 species in the genus. The name Hydrangea originates from the Greek words for water (hydor) and a vase/vessel (angeio). It refers to the seed capsules.

UK Frost

Hydrangea flowers have long gone over at Christmas in the UK. The russet-edged flowers can still add interest to the garden. They look particularly interesting in the first frost. The old flowerhead can be gathered, dried and incorporated into Christmas wreaths.

Frosted, old, russet Hydrangea flower in November 2020 in Somerset garden. Frost captures and defines the floret edges. © Karen Andrews

© Karen Andrews

References and Further Reading

Copyright Note

Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.

© Karen Andrews 2018 onwards. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Andrews and BotanyKaren.net with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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