Two popular colors in and out of the garden this year

What's your gardening color this year?

Well, THE trend worldwide comes from forecasters at the Pantone Color Institute who have not only chosen one color of the year, but TWO! They are Rose Quartz and Serenity.

Since the year 2000, Pantone has been “forecasting” color trends in fashion, housing design, travel and other industries. Why two colors this year, you ask? These two colors are said to provide a balance of warm (Rose Quartz) and the tranquil color of blue (Serenity).

Pantone was looking for something to bring us a “soothing sense of order and peace” in our world, a feeling of calm and relaxation.

Pantone also points out the two colors as a representation of male and female. Why not blend the genders when it comes to fashion and design?

Have you created this tranquil relaxing calm in your garden without even noticing? This is the year to highlight or create those soothing colors in your hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas that are supposed to bloom blue or pink do so because of the pH of the soil in your backyard. If your soil is acidic (pH range below 7, the number at which it is neutral), it will cause this type of hydrangea to produce blue flowers. The pink color comes from a pH soil that is alkaline (a pH level larger than 7).

Researchers have looked closely at pH ranges and their impact on color. They have found the blue ranges come from a pH below 5.5 and pink ranges come from pH above 6.5. If you can work with your soil to create a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, they have seen a blending of the pinkish/bluish coloring. Just what Pantone is looking for this year!

How are you going to change that color? It can be accomplished by applying sulfur to lower the pH. To raise the pH, limestone can be added to the soil. Always use the recommended amount, which is approximately one-half cup of sulfur or 1 cup of lime per square foot. Keep in mind this is not an immediate change but a gradual process.

Increasing the acidity can also be accomplished by adding organic material, such as coffee grounds, ground up citrus peel or crushed eggshells, around the base of the plant. The acidity will slowly increase. By next year, your hydrangeas may be “wearing” that beautiful Serenity blue and you will be just in time to find out what Pantone's color selection will be for 2017!

— Bev Krams

• Provided by Master Gardeners through the Master Gardener Answer Desk, Friendship Park Conservatory, Des Plaines. Call (847) 298-3502 or email

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