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Hydrangea Care

The Complete Hydrangea Care Guide

Hydrangeas are growing in popularity and for good reason. So we’ve put together the ultimate guide for how to care for hydrangeas. This includes choosing the correct hydrangea for your space, planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning and more. This guide has the basic information needed to get started. But you can click on each topic for more in depth information.

Choosing the Right Hydrangea

First you need to choose the correct hydrangea, based off of what your needs are and what your space provides. How much sunlight does the location have? What type of soil do you have? How big of blooms and what color of blooms do you want? For more in depth information, we’ve put together a guide for the types of hydrangeas to help you determine which type works best for you.

All hydrangeas will bloom and grow well in morning sun and afternoon shade.

Planting Hydrangeas

Second, we need to plant the hydrangea to ensure the plant stays healthy and thrives in the location you picked out. Choose a location so that the hydrangea can reach its full size without pruning. Plant the hydrangea in well drained soil. Make sure to not plant the hydrangea too deep in the ground. Plant at the same depth as the in the pot it comes in.

The best time to plant hydrangeas are early summer or fall. If you want to transplant a hydrangea, do so once the plant is dormant and has lost all leaves in late fall or winter.

Watering Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas need moist but well drained soil to thrive. Instead of trying to stick to a “rule” for watering hydrangeas, it is better to water so the soil is moist at all times, but not too wet. Each type of hydrangea requires different levels of water. The location of the plant will also determine how much water the plant needs.

Typically, you will be able to tell when the plant needs water by looking at the foliage. The leaves will start to wilt when the plant needs water. Hydrangea macrophylla and hydrangea paniculata require more water than hydrangea aborescens (smooth hydrangeas) and Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf).

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Fertilizing Hydrangeas

Specialty formulated hydrangea fertilizer is available, however it is not necessary. Commonly found all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer is the easiest to use. It should be applied in spring or early summer. Not in the fall as that is when the plants are preparing for dormancy, and the fertilizer could trigger new growth which isn’t healthy for the plants. It is important to remember, that adding fertilizer will not cause a hydrangea to bloom.

Changing Hydrangea Colors

Fertilizer will not change the color of the blooms. It's possible that extra ingredients added to fertilizers might change the color, but the fertilizer itself doesn't have this power. It is much easier to change a hydrangea from pink to blue than it is from blue to pink. Changing a hydrangea from pink to blue entails adding aluminum to the soil. Changing from blue to pink means subtracting aluminum from the soil or taking it out of reach of the hydrangea. You cannot change the color of white hydrangeas.

Pruning Hydrangeas

Mophead hydrangeas do not ever need to be pruned. You only need to remove dead branches. Different types of hydrangeas need to be pruned using different methods. To determine what method to use, read the more in-depth article. It is important to prune the correct way, so you do not cause the shrub to have less blooms.

Propagating Hydrangeas

Propagating hydrangeas is typically done from cuttings as the shrubs rarely produce seeds to use. It typically takes about 4 weeks to root from cuttings that are 6 inches long. While propagating, keep the plants out of direct sunlight so the leaves don’t burn up.

Common Hydrangea Care Questions

Do hydrangeas like sun or shade?

While there are a few varieties of hydrangeas that are shade lovers, most preferably at least 6 hours of sun, with those hours of sunlight preferred to be morning hours, with some protection from the sun during the hottest hours of the afternoon. 

What are some colors that hydrangeas can bloom in?

The color of hydrangeas runs almost the full spectrum, from pinks to purples, blues, reds, whites, and greens!

Do hydrangeas spread?

The root systems of hydrangeas commonly reach out from 3 to 10 feet, depending on the variety of plants. This allows them to make use of any moisture in the area. These roots can also, in some species, send up stems. If they're undesirable, keep chopping them off at the ground. This will eventually weaken them to the point that they'll no longer have the energy to encroach.

Are hydrangeas invasive?

The vast majority of hydrangeas are not considered to be invasive. 

What is the growth rate for hydrangea?

Most hydrangeas have a fast growth rate and can throw out up to 2 feet of new growth a year.

Should I cut off dead hydrangea blooms?

Deadheading hydrangeas will help keep them neat and tidy looking and it also helps to encourage to plant to throw out more blooms, rather than directing its energy towards seed making.

Are hydrangeas perennials or annuals?

Hydrangeas are actually deciduous shrubs, meaning they drop their leaves for the winter months, and come back in the spring.

Have a question about Hydrangeas? Fill out the form below and we will try and get back to your question as soon as possible. We may even feature your question on this article to help other gardeners!

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