How to Plant Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are a great way to get an abundance of flowers. There are many types of these beautiful, larger-than-life blooms that are enticing, full of color, and add beauty and variety to every garden. They also have dark green leaves that add an old-fashioned charm to both summer and fall gardens. Our tips will help you plant and maintain hydrangeas that pop year after year.

Hydrangea Plants: Ideal Soil Composition & pH

Hydrangea plants need fertile soils that drain well and are well-hydrated. Amend your garden soil with organic materials and well-decomposed compost as often as possible. To regulate the temperature and humidity levels, you should focus on the roots of these plants by mulching their bases.

When planting hydrangeas, it is important to know that the soil pH can impact the color of your hydrangea plants. A soil test can help you determine the color of your blooms once they mature. Depending on soil composition, it is also possible to have multiple colors on your hydrangea plant. Blue flowers are produced by acidic soils with a pH of less than 5.5, while pink flowers will be produced by soils with a pH greater than 5.5. The soil pH does not affect white cultivars.

Hydrangea Plant Water & Nutrient Requirements

Hydrangea planting is a delicate process that requires careful attention. Watering thoroughly during the first year is key to success for any new shrub. Water the plant at least three times daily to achieve the best results. Hydrangeas can wilt under heat, so give them a good soak if they show signs of becoming wilted. Hydrangeas should be planted at the root ball level or just above the soil surface so water doesn’t pool and oversaturate the crown of the flower. Poor drainage and too much water can lead to woody-stemmed plants such as hydrangeas rotting. Apply slow-release organic food to acid-loving plants, such as hydrangeas, before they are planted. The more fertile your soil is, the more vibrant and brighter your blooms and foliage will be.

Hydrangeas: Where Can You Plant Them?

Hydrangeas do best in sites with a mix of shade and sun. Morning sun is best as hydrangeas can wilt under high heat.

Hydrangea Plant Spacing

There are many types of hydrangeas, so check the planting instructions for your plant’s type. Hydrangeas require plenty of space to grow and spread. Spacing recommendations can vary from three to ten feet, and some hydrangea varieties are climbers that will need support.

How to Plant Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas can be planted in spring after the last frost, or in autumn before the first frost.

  1. Dig a hole twice as large and deep to hold your hydrangea pot.
  2. To check that the root ball is level with the soil surface, place the pot in the hole and test it. To level the plant, take the pot out of the hole and add or subtract soil as needed.
  3. To stimulate root growth and give your hydrangea shrub the best start, you might consider adding some organic starter fertilizer to the holes.
  4. Take the hydrangea plant out of the container.
  5. Gently move the roots below the root ball with your fingers.
  6. Place the plant in the hole. This is the time to adjust which side you want to be the main focal point.
  7. Backfill the hole and compact the soil around the rootball to eliminate air pockets.
  8. To keep the roots cool and protected, mulch can be added around the plant to retain moisture.
  9. Water your hydrangea plants often.

How to Prune Hydrangeas

There are two common types of hydrangeas, with each having its own pruning requirements. Both cultivars have new growth that begins at the base of the root ball and the existing stalks. Pruning is a time to be alert for further growth, buds, and healthy shoots.

Pruning Hydrangeas in the Fall

  • Prune fall bloomers in the early spring.
  • Take out diseased or dead stalks.
  • Remove flower heads that have fallen to the ground with shears. Only trim to about the first leaf join. Otherwise, you risk losing next year’s flowers if cut too low.
  • Take out any dead leaves or other debris from the base of your plant and add them to your compost pile.
  • Mulch around the base of your plant.

Pruning Hydrangeas During the Summer

  • Prune summer bloomers in the fall.
  • Examine the roots of your plant. You will notice the difference between strong stems that produce buds and weaker offshoots.
  • Remove spindly shoots and diseased or dead stems using pruning shears. Sometimes, the stalks might have dead ends. Remove them and let the healthy ones grow.
  • Trim off dead flowers to the top of the next leaf joint.
  • You will need to work around the plant to maintain healthy growth and remove diseased stalks.
  • Don’t over-prune. To ensure next year’s abundance of blooms, keep the shrub’s overall shape and size.
  • Remove any dead leaves or other debris from the base of your plant and add them to your compost pile.
  • Mulch around the base of your plant.

Hydrangea Varieties

There are many varieties of hydrangeas to choose from. Before you begin thinking about how to plant Hydrangeas, make sure to look at the available varieties. This will help you decide which one best suits your needs and preferences.

  • ‘Nikko Blue’ is a vibrant blue mop head with six inches of length. It has dark green leaves and stems. It usually blooms in July and August.
  • ‘L.A. Dreamin’ is a vigorous, showy plant that produces bright, colorful blooms in various colors, including pinks, blues, and purples.
  • Maja’ is a compact variety that produces beautiful pink flowerheads.
  • Strawberry Sundae’ produces billowing panicles in white and pink that resemble a rich strawberry dessert. Great for cutting.
  • Everlasting’ will add diversity to your garden. Great for cutting.
  • ‘Cityline’ is a compact variety that can be grown in containers and doesn’t need to be pruned. This variety produces abundant dark pink to red flowers on dark green leaves. It can spread to 12-36 inches.

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