How to grow hydrangeas

Growing hydrangeas is so rewarding, as these flowers are both beautiful and easy to care for! With the right conditions and a little bit of TLC, you’ll be able to enjoy lush blooms in no time.

Hydrangeas typically grow best when planted in an area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. They prefer well-drained soil rich in organic matter with a neutral to slightly acidic soil pH. Hydrangeas should be watered regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. They can also benefit from a springtime application of natural fertilizer and from organic mulch.

Get ready to learn all about growing hydrangeas confidently – it’s simpler than you think!

Pink hydrangeas in botanical garden

How to grow hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are beautiful and popular flowering shrubs that can add color to any garden. Planting, growing, and caring for hydrangea plants is easy, but they do require some special care to ensure healthy growth and abundant blooms.

Most types of hydrangea plants prefer partial shade or morning sun with afternoon shade. They need well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter added in for best results. It’s important to choose the right spot when planting hydrangeas since they don’t like being moved once established.

When planting your hydrangea, dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and just deep enough so that the crown of the plant is at ground level when planted. If you are adding fertilizer, mix it into the backfill before filling in around the roots and water thoroughly after planting.

Newly planted hydrangea shrubs should be watered deeply every few days until established (about 6 weeks). After that, water regularly during dry spells or periods of extended heat; about 1 inch per week should suffice for mature plants in most climates.

Mulch helps keep weeds away from young plants while also helping retain moisture in hot weather – both important factors for successful growth. Spread 2-3 inches of mulch around your newly planted hydrangea shrubs but avoid piling up against stems or trunks which could cause rot over time.

A balanced fertilizer applied according to package directions will help promote healthy growth and lots of flowers each season. For best results, fertilize your hydrangea plants in early spring before new growth begins; this will give them an extra boost going into summer months when flower buds form on old woody branches from the previous year’s growth cycle.

Pruning hydrangea shrubs is unnecessary unless you want to shape or control size/growth habits. If so, prune lightly after flowering has finished each year by removing dead woody stems down near ground level; this encourages fresh new shoots which will produce more flowers the following season.

Once you have chosen a spot with the right amount of sunlight and soil, you can begin planting your hydrangeas. Now that they are in the ground, let’s look at how to keep them healthy and thriving.

Key takeaway

Planting and caring for hydrangeas is easy. Ensure they have well-drained soil, partial shade or morning sun with afternoon shade, regular watering, mulching to retain moisture, and balanced fertilizer. Prune lightly after flowering if desired.

Hydrangeas by river

Where do hydrangeas grow best?

Hydrangeas are a beautiful addition to any garden, but it’s important to know where they grow best. Different species of hydrangea have different needs when it comes to sunlight and soil type.

No matter what type of hydrangea you choose for your garden, proper planting location is essential for success. Ensure that you select an area with adequate light levels based on the specific needs of your chosen variety and provide ample space between each plant to allow for growth without overcrowding nearby shrubs or trees over time.

Garden path surrounded by hydrangeas
Bigleaf hydrangeas tend to like a shade more than other species.

Planting location preferences by species

Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) do best in partial shade and well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. They can tolerate full sun, but too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves to burn or fade in color. Bigleaf hydrangeas should also be planted away from windy areas as strong winds can damage their delicate blooms.

Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) prefer more sun than bigleaf varieties and will thrive in full sun if given enough water during dry spells. Oakleaf Hydrangeas need well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter added for moisture retention and good drainage; however, they don’t like overly wet soils so make sure not to overwater them.

Smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) are very versatile plants that will grow in both sunny and shady spots as long as the soil is moist but not soggy. They prefer a slightly acidic pH level between 5 – 6 which helps keep their foliage vibrant green throughout the season. Smooth Hydrangeas may need supplemental watering during hot summer months or periods of drought since they aren’t drought-tolerant like some other types of hydrangea shrubs.

Panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) are hardy plants that do well in full sun or partial shade with moist, well-draining soil conditions similar to those preferred by oak leaf hydrangeas mentioned above. However, panicle hydrangeas require an even higher acidity level than oak leaf varieties – ideally around 4 – 5 on the pH scale – so you may want to consider adding sulfur amendments if your soil’s pH isn’t low enough already. Additionally, panicle hydrangeas tend to bloom later than other types, so make sure you give them plenty of time before pruning them back after flowering has finished for the season.

Mountain hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata) are native to the mountains of Japan. They are deciduous shrubs with wide, serrated leaves and clusters of showy white flowers in summer. The blooms turn pink or blue depending on soil pH levels.

Climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea petiolaris) are an excellent choice for a large, striking vine to cover an arbor or trellis. It’s a fast-growing vine that needs support for the weight of its leaves and flowers. The blooms appear in late summer and are generally white in color.

Checking species type before buying

Planting hydrangeas

Planting hydrangeas is a great way to add color and texture to your garden. Hydrangeas are easy to grow and can be planted in spring or fall, depending on the climate you live in. When planting hydrangeas, make sure they get plenty of sun but also have some shade during the hottest part of the day. Plant them at least three feet apart so that their roots have room to spread out and develop properly.

When it comes time for planting, dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball of your plant and just deep enough so that when placed in the hole, its crown (where the stem meets the roots) will be level with the ground surface. Place your plant into this hole carefully, making sure not to disturb any roots or stems too much. Backfill around the sides with soil until firmly packed down then water thoroughly once finished planting.

To ensure successful growth for your new plants, mulch around each one after planting has been completed; this helps keep moisture levels consistent throughout hot summer days while also helping prevent weeds from taking over your garden beds. Use an organic material such as wood chips or shredded bark which should be applied two inches thick all around each plant’s base – don’t forget about those areas between plants too. Finally, give them another good watering once done mulching and you’re all set.

Planting hydrangeas is an easy and rewarding task, but the key to success lies in understanding how much water and sunlight they need. Now that you have planted your hydrangeas, let’s look at how to ensure they get enough water.

Invinvibelle wee white dwarf hydrangeas at garden center - proven winners

Watering hydrangeas

Watering hydrangeas is an important part of caring for these beautiful shrubs. Hydrangeas need regular watering to stay healthy and vibrant, but they don’t like to be overwatered. Generally speaking, hydrangeas should be watered deeply once a week during the growing season. During hot weather or drought conditions, you may need to water more often.

When it comes to how much water your hydrangea needs, it depends on several factors, such as soil type and climate conditions in your area. The best way to determine if your plant needs water is by checking the soil around its roots with your finger or a trowel; if it feels dry about two inches down, then it’s time for a drink. A good rule of thumb is that each bush should receive at least one inch of water per week from rain or irrigation. If possible, try not to get the leaves wet when watering so that fungal diseases can be avoided.

Smooth hydrangea with white flowers

If you have clay soils in your garden, then less frequent watering will usually help encourage deep root growth, which helps keep plants healthier during periods of heat stress and drought. When using sprinklers, make sure they reach all parts of the shrub evenly so that some areas aren’t getting too much water while others are being neglected; this could lead to uneven growth patterns and weak spots in the plant’s structure over time due to lack of adequate moisture reaching certain parts of the bush’s root system.

Finally, remember that newly planted hydrangeas require more frequent watering than established ones since their root systems haven’t had enough time to develop fully into their environment – typically every other day until they become well established (about six weeks). With proper care and attention, you can enjoy lush blooms year after year.

Watering hydrangeas is essential for their health and growth. Now that you know the basics of watering, let’s look at mulching to further help keep your hydrangeas healthy.

Buying bulk mulch for discounted price
Buying bulk organic composted plant matter

Mulching hydrangeas

Mulching hydrangeas is an important part of their care. Mulch helps to keep the soil moist, reduce weeds, and provide nutrients for your plants. It also adds a nice aesthetic touch to your garden or landscape.

Organic mulches are best for hydrangeas as they break down over time and add beneficial organic matter to the soil. Composted yard trimmings are a great choice because they’re readily available in most areas and can be applied easily with minimal effort. They will help improve drainage, aeration, and water retention in the soil while providing essential nutrients like nitrogen that promote the healthy growth of your plants.

In addition to composted yard trimmings, other types of organic mulch such as wood chips or bark can also be used around hydrangea shrubs. These materials should be applied at least 2-3 inches thick but not more than 4 inches thick so that it doesn’t smother the roots of the plant or create too much shade on its leaves which could lead to disease problems later on down the line.

Hydrangea shrub with blue flowers

It’s important to note that when using any type of mulch you should always leave a few inches between it and the base of your shrub so that air circulation isn’t impeded which could cause fungal diseases like root rot or crown rot from forming on its roots or stems respectively. You should also avoid piling up too much mulch around young plants since this could suffocate them by preventing oxygen from reaching their roots properly which would ultimately stunt their growth significantly if left unchecked for long periods of time.

Finally, remember that all types of organic mulches need regular replenishment throughout each growing season since they tend to decompose quickly due to exposure to rainwater and sunlight; however, this process does help enrich soils with additional nutrients needed for healthy plant growth.

Mulching hydrangeas helps retain moisture and keeps the roots of the plants cool, making it an important part of caring for your hydrangea. Now let’s look at how fertilizing can help you grow healthy and vibrant hydrangea plants.

Bigleaf hydrangea shrub in bloom

Fertilizing hydrangea plants

Fertilizing hydrangeas is an important part of keeping them healthy and looking their best. Hydrangeas are usually fertilized once or twice a year, once in the spring and perhaps again in mid-summer.

When applying fertilizer to hydrangea plants, it’s important to follow the instructions on the package carefully so that you don’t over-fertilize. Generally speaking, one cup of granular fertilizer per plant should be enough for most varieties of hydrangea shrubs. Sprinkle it evenly around each plant at least six inches away from its base and then water thoroughly after application.

It’s also important to remember that too much nitrogen can cause problems with blooming; if you notice yellowing leaves or poor flowering performance in your hydrangeas, reduce the amount of nitrogen used when fertilizing next time around. Also, avoid using fresh manure as this can burn delicate roots and foliage due to its high levels of nitrogen content.

Finally, always make sure that any mulch applied over the top of your fertilized plants does not touch their stems directly as this could lead to rot or disease issues down the road. With proper care and attention given during fertilization season each year, you can ensure beautiful blooms come summertime.

Hydrangea color chart - home for the harvest - gardening website

Changing hydrangea color with soil amendments

In addition to adding a wide range of important minerals, you can add amendments to the soil to change the flower color of certain species. Only bigleaf and mountain hydrangeas change color with soil pH, but these species are both quite common.

Soil acidifiers can help turn the flowers blue, while garden lime can make them closer to pink. Here’s a detailed guide on changing hydrangea color. The process can take a year or two, but is quite a fun experiment!

Fertilizing hydrangea is an important part of keeping your plants healthy and vibrant. Now, let’s move on to the next step in caring for these beautiful blooms – pruning hydrangea shrubs.

Blooming easy hydrangea shrubs for sale in early spring
Note the species and variety before you get the pruning shears out (and ideally before you buy the plant at all)

Pruning hydrangea shrubs

Pruning hydrangea shrubs is an important part of keeping them healthy and looking their best. Knowing when to prune your particular variety of hydrangea will help you get the most out of your plants.

Some species, such as smooth and panicle hydrangeas, should be pruned in early spring before new growth begins. This type of pruning helps promote strong blooms for the upcoming season. Start by removing any dead, diseased or damaged branches first then take out crossing or rubbing branches that can cause damage over time.

For other types, like bigleaf and oakleaf, wait until midsummer after they have bloomed to do any major pruning. These types are more tolerant of heavy pruning so if needed you can cut back up to one-third of the plant’s height without harming it too much. Again start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches first then take out crossing or rubbing branches that can cause damage over time.

It’s also a good idea to shape up your shrub with light shearing once flowering has finished for both early and late-blooming varieties; this will help keep it neat and tidy throughout the growing season while encouraging bushier growth next year as well as larger flowers.

When doing any trimming on your hydrangea, make sure you use sharp garden scissors or loppers so that you don’t tear off chunks from stems that could lead to infection later on down the line – always better safe than sorry. Finally, remember not to remove all old wood at once since some older stems may still produce blooms in future years if left alone – give them a light trim instead every now and again when necessary. Less is usually more when it comes to hydrangea pruning.

Key takeaway

Pruning hydrangeas is essential for keeping them healthy and looking their best. Depending on the variety, prune early spring or midsummer after blooming: remove dead/damaged/diseased branches, shape with light shearing, and use sharp tools to avoid infection.

Dwarf white hydrangeas with companion plants in formal flower garden

Companion plants for hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are lovely on their own, but they really thrive when they are part of a functioning overall ecosystem. This might include some larger trees for afternoon shade, some groundcover plants as living mulch, and certain plants to attract beneficial insects to keep pests under control. With all of these components in place, your hydrangeas will thrive and produce beautiful blooms for many years to come.

Hydrangea green shrub with a couple pink flower clusters

FAQs about how to grow hydrangeas

What is the secret to growing hydrangeas?

Start by choosing a species that suits your climate, then choose a reliable cultivar, pay attention to the soil before you plant it, keep it well-watered for the first year or two, and mulch the surrounding soil with organic compost each spring.

Where is the best place to plant a hydrangea?

The best place to plant a hydrangea is in an area that receives at least four hours of direct sunlight each day. Bigleaf hydrangeas are not as tolerant of direct sunlight as most of the other species. The shrub should also be planted in soil that is well-draining and rich in organic matter, such as compost or manure.

Additionally, the soil should be slightly acidic with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5 for optimal growth. When planting, make sure to dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and just deep enough so that the top of the root ball is level with the ground surface. Finally, water regularly during dry periods to ensure your hydrangea stays healthy and blooms beautifully.

Is hydrangea easy to grow?

Yes, hydrangeas are easy to grow. They require little maintenance and can thrive in a variety of climates. With proper care, they will produce beautiful blooms for many years.

How do you get hydrangeas to keep blooming?

To keep hydrangeas blooming, start by choosing a reblooming cultivar or a species with a naturally long blooming period. It is also important to provide them with the right conditions.

First, make sure they are planted in a spot that gets at least 4-6 hours of sunlight each day. Secondly, ensure that the soil is well-draining and rich in organic matter. Finally, water your plants regularly and fertilize them every few weeks during their growing season for best results.

Lacecap blue hydrangea flowers

Before you go…

Now is the perfect time to start planning and planting your hydrangeas! With just a few simple steps, you can have beautiful blooms in no time. Start by finding the right spot for your plants – somewhere with plenty of sun and soil that drains well. Then select high-quality plants from a reputable nursery or garden center. Make sure to give them adequate water and fertilizer throughout their growing season for optimal results.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a passionate gardener and well-acclaimed authority in the world of horticulture. As a certified Master Gardener and Permaculture Garden Designer with over a decade of hands-on experience, she has honed her skills to cultivate a deeper understanding of the natural world around us. Beyond her gardening prowess, Mary Jane holds a distinct edge as a Professional Engineer, an expertise that often intertwines with her gardening methodologies, bringing a unique perspective to her readers.

She is the proud founder of the renowned gardening website, Home for the Harvest, a platform dedicated to helping fellow gardeners, both novice and experienced, find their green thumbs. Her gardening expertise hasn't gone unnoticed; she's been spotlighted as a go-to gardening expert by notable publications like Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, Real Simple, and the National Garden Bureau.

Delving deep into specific fields of study within horticulture, Mary Jane has an extensive knowledge base on sustainable gardening practices (including permaculture), soil science, and selecting cultivars well-suited to home gardeners. Her passion isn't just limited to plants; she's a staunch advocate for holistic, eco-friendly gardening techniques that benefit both flora and fauna.

Currently residing in the picturesque Okanagan Valley, Mary Jane cherishes the time she spends with her family amidst nature, always exploring, learning, and growing both as a gardener and as an individual.

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