Meet the grower
Behind the scenes: What happens to Magicals in winter?
April is when we start to see Magical Hydrangeas in all their glory at garden centres and florists. But what goes on behind the scenes to get the plants to this point? We asked Eelco Nell, manager of De Jong Plant BV, one of our Magical Hydrangea growers.
‘The main hydrangea season is from April to August’, says Eelco, 'because that's when the plants are flowering. But behind the scenes, we are busy growing the plants during the rest of the year. The hydrangeas that we sell in the summer are the result of a two-year process. Cuttings are made in the first year, and these grow into what we call 'planting material' in the second year. In the third year, once the planting stock is big enough, we grow it into the radiant hydrangeas that you see at your garden centre, florist or more often online.
From rest, to cooling, to your garden
'In the autumn of the second growth year, the Magicals harden off outdoors. A month later, we load the plants onto carts and bring them into our greenhouses. In December, the plants are mostly dormant, and they begin to shed their leaves. During this period, we remove the fallen leaves from the pots and make sure that the plants are cold. Hydrangeas need six weeks of cold before they can flower.'
Fresh air, healthy plants
So a lot happens in the winter! Eelco: 'Well, we don't do that much during the winter months. But it is important work. We water the plants occasionally, but the most important thing for them is fresh air.' Fresh air? 'When the sun shines, we open the greenhouse roof and let the wind can blow through. This creates healthy and strong plants that are resistant to fungus and diseases. That’s how we grow such strong and beautiful Magical Hydrangeas.'
No bud, no flower
'It’s especially important during this time that we don’t lose the buds on the plants. Without the buds, there would be no beautiful hydrangea flowers. This is quite a balancing act, because if you remove the fallen leaves too late, you may lose the buds. If the plants are healthy and have good buds in spring, we sell some of these as small garden plants, not yet in bloom. In the spring, we put the other plants in the big five litre pots that you see at the garden centre. We sell these in bloom from April onwards.'
Fan of Magical Ruby Tuesday
At De Jong Plant BV, these beautiful, high quality Magicals are the result of teamwork. Eelco explains: 'We all do it together, with a fantastic team. This is very important. Everyone has their own task, from cultivation to administration, and together we create our wonderful range.' And speaking of the range, does Eelco have a favourite hydrangea? 'I personally love the Magical Ruby Tuesday with its beautiful red colour. But the Magical Revolution in blue is also a firm favourite.