How to Grow Hydrangeas

Everything you need to know about growing hydrangeas in your garden.

By Arricca SanSone, Country Living

  • Exposure: Full sun to part sun with afternoon shade in hot climates
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 10
  • When to plant: Mid to late spring
  • Recommended varieties: Panicle (Limelight, Little Lime, Fire and Ice, Bombshell); Smooth (Annabelle, Invincibelle Spirit II, Incrediball); Oakleaf (Ice Crystal, Gatsby Star); Bigleaf (Wedding Gown, Cherry Explosion, Endless Summer, LA Dreamin'); Mountain (Tuff Stuff, Tiny Tuff Stuff)
  • Pests and diseases to watch out for: Aphids, Powdery mildew

How to Plant Hydrangea Flowers

Dig a hole about twice the size of the container. Set the plant in the hole with the top of the root ball at the same height or ever-so-slightly higher than the soil surface. Back fill in the hole with the soil, tamp down the soil gently around the plant, and feed with some balanced fertilizer. Water deeply. Because hydrangeas have shallow root systems, mulch well to prevent them from drying out.

How to Care for Hydrangeas

Keep hydrangeas watered until they get established, but don't let the ground get soggy because they don't like wet feet. Feed them with a general-purpose flowering shrub fertilizer in the spring. To avoid removing next year's flower buds, wait to trim off anything that looks dead until after the plant has all its leaves in the spring.

Are hydrangeas difficult to grow?

Actually, no. They’re one of the few plants that can be grown from coast to coast in most climates. But in the hottest areas of the country, hydrangeas do best if they have morning sun and afternoon shade. Make sure you read the plant tag so you choose the right spot in your garden.

How do I make my hydrangeas turn blue?

Contrary to popular belief, not all types of hydrangeas will change bloom color. Only some bigleaf and mountain hydrangeas are able to change according to the soil chemistry and the presence of aluminum in the soil. If you didn't keep your plant tag, your local university co-op extension service can help you identify what kind of hydrangea you've got. Next, check your soil's pH level (the co-op extension can help here again, or get an inexpensive soil test kit). You need acidic soil for blue flowers. If you have a hydrangea variety that can turn blue, add aluminate sulfate granules in the spring according to the package label instructions.

When do I prune my hydrangeas?

This is one of the most common questions! Here's the deal: Some hydrangeas bloom on branches that grew the year before (called "old wood"), some types bloom on this year's growth (called "new wood"), and some bloom on both old and new wood. If you're not sure what kind of plant you have, don't prune any later than mid-summer or you risk removing next year's blooms. Or simply wait to prune until the plant leafs out again next spring so you can see what's dead and what's not. Then just take off the dead stuff.

GROWER TIP: "When the roots are circled around inside the pot, loosen them up and spread them out by scoring with a knife or separating gently with your fingers before planting," says Peter Kruger, director of plant development and sourcing for Ball Horticulture. "It may seem harsh, but it actually generates more root growth to help the plant get established."

See more at: Country Living

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Lifestyle Magazine: How to Grow Hydrangeas
How to Grow Hydrangeas
Everything you need to know about growing hydrangeas in your garden, including hydrangea types, how to care for hydrangea (particularly hydrangea winter care), how to make hydrangeas turn blue, when to prune hydrangeas, and more hydrangea flower growing tips.
Lifestyle Magazine
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