The Silly “Rusty Nail” Myth New York Gardeners Should Avoid
Spring has (almost) sprung in the Hudson Valley, and with the arrival of warmer weather comes the rush of New York gardeners who can't wait to get their planting started. There's one myth, however, experts are begging flower enthusiasts to avoid.
Hydrangeas are one of the more popular flowers in the Hudson Valley, and for good reason. They provide privacy, grow easily in our climate, and can produce flowers in a variety of colors. One thing that doesn't belong in your hydrangea garden, though, are rusty nails.
Hydrangea Gardening Tips
You can tuck this neatly in the "I can't believe they actually had to say this" file, but a state university recently took to Facebook to debunk one of the oddest myths in gardening. It involves using discarded hardware to help change the color of one of New York's favorite flowers.
Myth: Bury Rusty Nails Under Your Hydrangea
"MYTH", the post began, "burying rusty nails under a hydrangea will change the color of its flowers." The backstory behind the myth, the university shared, is that the iron from oxidized nails was believed to help lower the soil's pH; and integral part of controlling the color of a hydrangea's flower. But the plan is missing a key ingredient.
How to Change the Color of Your Hydrangea in New York
"People assume that the nails will add iron to the soil thus lowering the pH and turning the flowers blue. This is not a good idea because lowering the soil pH is only part of the story. Aluminum is also required to produce blue flowers", explained the university. Plus, there are much safer ways to change a hydrangea's color than with sharp and rusty pieces of metal.
"To make pink flowers turn blue, dissolve 1 tablespoon of aluminum sulfate in a gallon of water and drench the soil around the plant in March, April, and May", came the expert tip. If a gardener is after a pink hydrangea, then lime, instead of aluminum sulfate, should be added. Find more tips in person from experts at some of the best New York garden centers below.