Tuff Stuff hydrangea

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The Tuff Stuff Hydrangea is an elegant cold-hardy hydrangea with showy lacecap flowers. There are many reasons to love this little flowering shrub!

Tuff Stuff Hydrangea is a compact variety of mountain hydrangea grown for their graceful flower clusters. While the flowers are usually a pink color, this type can also have purple-blue flowers in certain soil conditions. This low-maintenance plant is quite small, growing only 3′ tall by 3′ wide. Tuff Stuff is the perfect hydrangea for tricky spots in the garden.

Now that you know some things about the Tuff Stuff Hydrangea, you are likely wondering how to plant it and how much sunlight it needs in order to thrive. Keep reading to find out.

Tuff stuff hydrangea

Tuff Stuff hydrangea: The basics

Tuff Stuff Hydrangea (Hydrangea serrata ‘Tuff Stuff’) is one of the most popular small hydrangea varieties. These are reblooming lace-cap hydrangeas called mountain hydrangeas, which originally grew in mountain valleys in Japan, China, and Korea. Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas look similar to big leaf hydrangeas but are more tolerant of less-than-perfect growing conditions. Tuff Stuff Hydrangea is sometimes referred to as Cotton Candy Hydrangea or Blueberry Cheesecake Hydrangea.

Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas grow to be 2-3 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. There is even a miniature version called “Tiny Tuff Stuff” that only grows to 18″-24″ tall and wide. The flowers bloom in the late spring and early summer, and the blooms last until fall or when things start to frost over. These hydrangeas bloom once every year.

The Tuff Stuff Hydrangea blooms can be found in pink, purple, and blue. You can change the color of the blooms by changing the acidity or alkaline level of the soil that your hydrangeas are planted in. You can even change the color of the blooms every year before the spring season begins. If the soil is acidic, the blooms will be purple or blue. if the soil is alkaline, then the blooms on your Tuff Stuff Hydrangea will be pink in color.

Buying Tuff Stuff hydrangea plants

Here are some nurseries that offer Tuff Stuff Hydrangea plants for sale:

There are also several specialty varieties of Tuff Stuff Hydrangea available:

Tuff stuff hydrangea flower

Planting & soil requirements for Tuff Stuff hydrangea

If you want to have Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas in your garden, then you will need to plant them early on in the fall or spring season to give them enough time to grow strong roots before the soil freezes or the blooming season begins. Make sure you don’t plant them when it is really hot, and wait until the temperature starts to cool down so your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas don’t get heat stress, as they will struggle to grow if they get heat stress.

Plant your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas in soil that drains well, and plant them in a sunny area that also gets some shade. If you have multiple Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas, plant them 3-4 feet apart so they have plenty of room to grow out and up without interfering with another hydrangea plant.

After you plant your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas, cover the topsoil in a 2-3 inch layer of mulch that is shredded. This will prevent moisture in the soil from escaping and ensure that the soil stays moist for a long time, which will allow your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas to grow and thrive.

“An adaptable garden plant, it is compact and tidy enough to thrive in a decent-sized container while also holding its own near the front of an herbaceous or shrub border. It only really needs pruning when there is old wood to be thinned out and in temperate areas it will grow happily in both partial shade and full sun, but it will be grateful for afternoon shade in a really warm climate.”

Hydrangeas: Beautiful Varieties for Home and Garden Hardcover, by Naomi Slade
Tuff stuff hydrangea

Sunlight requirements for Tuff Stuff hydrangea

The Tuff Stuff Hydrangea needs at least 6 hours of direct or indirect sunlight in order to grow and thrive, so make sure you plant yours in an area that gets plenty of sunlight.

Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas will grow if they are in a partially shady area of the garden, but if they get too much shade it will get powdery mildew, and their growth will be hindered. Try to plant your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas in a sunny area that only has a partial shade for a few hours per day, and is quite sunny for the rest of the day.

Now that you know how much sunlight Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas require in order to thrive and grow, you are likely wondering how much water they require and how frequently you should water them. Keep reading to find out.

Watering Tuff Stuff hydrangeas

Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas need to be watered a few times a week when first planted, depending on how much mulch is on the topsoil and how much sunlight it gets daily. It prefers having consistently moist soil, so go out into the garden and check the topsoil to see if it is dry. When the topsoil is dry, add water until the soil is moist. Make sure that it drains well.

Although Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas are somewhat drought tolerant, they grow best when the soil is consistently moist. However, they will still grow if the soil isn’t consistently moist as long as they have some access to water.

During the hot summer months, water your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas more frequently than you did in the spring. If your Tuff Stuff Hydrangea isn’t getting enough water, you will notice the leaves starting to turn brown, and if it is spring or summer the edges of the flowers will also start to turn brown. When this happens, all you have to do is add water to the soil, and the brown edges should go away within a few days.

Now that you know about the sunlight and water requirements of Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas, you are likely wondering how often you should add fertilizer and if they need to be pruned. Keep reading if you want to find out.

Tuff stuff hydrangea

Fertilizing Tuff Stuff hydrangea plants

If you add fertilizer to the soil that your Tuff Stuff Hydrangea is planted in, it will thrive. Add fertilizer that is formulated for woody plants. Fertilizers made for roses or trees will work well, and you can find these types of fertilizers at any gardening or hardware store in your local area.

Fertilize your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas in the early spring, before the blooming season begins. If you add fertilizer, the blooms of your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas will thrive and be beautiful. Fertilizer will ensure your hydrangeas stay healthy and beautiful for a long time, even if you only add fertilizer once a year.

If you want to control the color of your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas, add a fertilizer that has sulfur or another type of acidic ingredient. This will ensure the blooms on your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas are blue or purple rather than pink. You can mix the acidic fertilizer with the woody plant fertilizer.

Pruning Tuff Stuff hydrangea

Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas don’t need to be pruned unless there are branches that are dead or sick, and this type of hydrangea is resistant to most diseases that typically affect hydrangeas. If your Tuff Stuff Hydrangea has dead or sick branches, trim them throughout the year.

Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas are compact and won’t typically grow past 3 feet wide or 3 feet tall. They will grow until they are too large for their roots to support the entire plant. If you want to control the growth of your Tuff Stuff Hydrangea, only cut away old or dead branches and stems, or you will hinder the growth and blooms of your Tuff Stuff Hydrangea.

If you choose to prune your Tuff Stuff Hydrangea, do so early on in the spring season, before the blooming season begins. The blooms on Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas grow on new and old stems and branches, but they mainly grow on new wood (Source).

If you want to, you can prune your Tuff Stuff Hydrangea in the late fall, after the blooming season has ended and before things start to freeze, but new branches likely won’t begin to grow until spring comes again.

Overall, Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas don’t need to be pruned unless part of the plant is dead or sick. This is great because it means you don’t have to worry about ensuring that this plant is pruned every year, and you will save a lot of time.

If you prune away an old, dead, or sick branch, trim close to where the branch meets the main stem of the hydrangea, as this will ensure the disease won’t continue to affect the rest of the plant, and you won’t damage the rest of the hydrangea.

During the spring or summer, you can absolutely trim off the blooms if you want to bring them inside or use them in a bouquet. All you need to do is trim the blossoms close to where the blossoms meet the branch that they are growing on. You won’t harm your hydrangea if you trim off part of the branch when you cut away the blooms that you want to bring inside.

Tuff stuff hydrangea

Are Tuff Stuff hydrangeas hard to take care of?

Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas are easy to take care of because they don’t need to be pruned every year, fertilizer only needs to be added once a year before spring begins, they are easy to plant, and they will grow in most climates and conditions.

Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas are not temperamental, but if you have one make sure that you water it at least once a week and make sure that the soil that your Tuff Stuff Hydrangea is planted in is consistently moist. Don’t overwater your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas, or else they will eventually die.

Although Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas prefer getting partial to full sun, they will grow and bloom if they are in an area where they only get partial shade. However, if your Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas are in partial shade most of the time, don’t water it frequently, and periodically check the moisture level of the soil because Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas planted in a partially shady area are more susceptible to powdery mildew.

People typically plant Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas in their gardens, away from trees and other large plants because they don’t want the roots of other plants to affect the growth of their hydrangeas. Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas look wonderful in gardens, but they do grow to be very tall, so many people use them as hedges or to mark off an area that they want to have partially secluded.

If you have had trouble keeping hydrangeas alive in the past, but you have not tried to grow Tuff Stuff Hydrangea before, then you should definitely purchase a few to put in your garden. Tuff Stuff Hydrangeas are much easier to take care of than other types of hydrangeas because they are low-maintenance and they originally grew in a rough area that became very cold during winter months and often didn’t get a lot of sunlight.

If you want to plant a hydrangea that is beautiful and easy to take care of, then you should purchase a Tuff Stuff Hydrangea. These hydrangeas will grow in nearly any condition, and they are easy to take care of. They are beautiful in the spring and summer, and the blooms last longer than other types of hydrangeas so you will be able to enjoy their beauty for a long time.

Overall, you should definitely purchase a Tuff Stuff Hydrangea. You can find one of these hydrangeas at most garden stores or online. Most gardening websites sell Tuff Stuff Hydrangea seeds, but some sell small hydrangea plants that are ready to plant.

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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.