Before becoming a gardening buff (The gardening buff sounds like the name of a movie that might win the Oscars), I was fascinated by those beautiful flowers that looked like butterflies (I know I’m not the only one who saw the similarity).
Their beautiful pastel colors where what got me to start planting them, and even though they don’t smell especially great (well, they don’t have a smell at all), and are pretty high maintenance, I found myself enjoying the whole process, and so, I thought I might share it with you guys.
On this article, you’ll find all the information you need to know about hydrangea plants, how to grow them, and most importantly, how to take care of them.
A few things you need to know before starting to growing hydrangeas
Hydrangeas were first planted and grown in Asia (southern and eastern Asia) and in the Americas, and bloom from mid-spring to late autumn (which means you’ll get to watch them and care for them for half a year, which is pretty neat if you love gardening, and I guess you do since you’re here).
Hydrangeas are actually pretty small flowers, but they grow up in batches of pastel colors sometimes, which can make for some beautiful scenery. Especially in this kind of plants, the color of the flowers during blooming season depends on the soil’s level of acidity.
So, for example, if you use an acidic soil (with a pH lest than 5.5), you will end up with blue flowers, but with a pH greater than 5.5, you will get pink flowers. For white hydrangeas, neutral or alkaline soil is the best choice. Variations in the soil’s acidity are what control the colors of your flowers, but it’s almost impossible to control the pH of your soil unless you’re using containers to grow your hydrangeas.
Nonetheless, hydrangeas are some of the most cultivated flowers, thanks to their easy going nature. Even if they look fragile, hydrangeas are actually strong flowers that can be cultivated in pretty much any soil.
Preparing your soil for hydrangeas
Every person who’s been gardening for a while will tell you one thing: preparing your soil is one of the most important steps when it comes to planting something new. And even if hydrangeas thrive in many types of soil, they still have a preferred type, like any other plant.
First of all, you need to get your soil tested, to see if it lacks important minerals that your hydrangeas will need to grow beautifully. The goal of testing your soil is preparing the best grounds for your plants to live.
After testing your soil, you will have to decide of the best time to prepare it, which is when it’s not too wet or frozen. The perfect soil is one that you can easily work.
First thing first, dig a hole deep enough for roots to expand, the bigger the better, since roots grow faster when they have a lot of space. After that, add compost to your soil, it’ll make it richer and more nurturing. The best composts are organic ones, like dehydrated cow manure.
Take of your soil as a pregnant woman, and make sure to spread out the compost all over it, so that every flower (the babies) will be well fed.
You can also use other organic composts besides cow manure, such as shredded leaves or grass clippings, which are both great for loosening the soil and preparing it for planting.
In what kind of soil can I plant my hydrangeas?
As I already stated it above, hydrangeas can thrive in many types of soils, but little explanations never hurt anyone, so here we go!
Hydrangeas love moist, but not too wet, soils. That is why it is best to plant them somewhere that only gets morning sunlight, since it will help retain more moisture in the soil and avoid dehydration. And if you want to grow pink hydrangeas specifically, you’ll have to sweeten your soil.
How, you ask? Easy, follow this, and you’ll get the pinkest hydrangeas of the neighborhood: To sweeten your soil, think about adding lime sulfur to it, as it helps make it more alkaline, and thus, better for pink hydrangeas.
Another tip is to plant your flowers in a loam and sandy-loam soil. Since this kind of soil doesn’t retain too much water, it’s perfect for hydrangeas!
When do I plant my hydrangeas?
There isn’t a particular time in the year when you should plant hydrangeas, but try to avoid summer, since the heat could make the soil dryer, and this will hurt your flowers. If you want graceful hydrangeas, the best would be to plant them during fall or spring, when the soil is just moist enough for them to grow.
How do I plant my hydrangeas?
Once your soil is prepared and ready for planting, you have to decide which design you want for your flowers, and lay out your plants following that design. Always picture your fully bloomed hydrangeas in your mind and be sure to plant them in a way that will not let them touch, this way, air will circulate more efficiently in your garden.
Before placing your flowers in the planting spot you dug in the soil, be sure to check their roots, if they are packed tightly, gently loosen them before planting your hydrangeas, that way, they will spread more freely in the soil, and grow faster.
Also, be sure to plant your flowers with their crowns even with ground level so they don’t dry out or rot. Then, refill the whole with topsoil and pack it firmly around the crown to create a dam that you will water. When the water from the dam dries out, fill it again.
How do I care for my hydrangea?
Most hydrangeas don’t like heat, so always be careful to place them somewhere shady and cool, where they can get the most of the morning sunlight but still not be bathed in it. Always water them thoroughly, so the soil is always moist (but not too wet, it can be tricky, but I believe you’ll find the perfect balance).
Deep watering once a week is important if you want your hydrangeas to bloom beautifully, so never forget to water them thoroughly. Once a year, think about fertilizing them, either during spring or summer.
Once you learn the basics, you’ll find out that hydrangeas aren’t that difficult to take care off (and that’s why they’re grandmas’ favorite flowers to plant all over the world). They don’t demand a lot of work, which is great, since with little efforts, you can get some astonishing results.
Those gracious flowers aren’t picky when it comes to fertilizers, you can of course use special hydrangeas’ fertilizer, but you can also use organic compost, or an all purpose 12-4-8 to 10-10-10 composition.
Once a year suffices for hydrangeas to get their part of good minerals, you can use slow or fast release chemical composts, but if you prefer natural solutions, a combo of sulfur, compost, and peat moss will to the deed just as well as any chemical.
But always be careful while feeding your hydrangeas; too much fertilizer, and your flowers end up with a fertilizer burn. If you witness scorched looking leaves, know that you used too much fertilizer. And don’t forget this: the best time to use slow fast release fertilizer is March, May, and July.
Spread it evenly, and be sure to water the plants well, and you’ll end up with beautiful, colorful hydrangeas. And think about adding liquid iron to the soil twice a year, so the leaves stay green and fresh.
And if you’re thinking about changing the color of you hydrangeas, add lime (for pink hydrangeas) or sulfur (for blue hydrangeas) to the soil, and let nature do its magic! It will take time until the color changes, but everything glorious and magical is worth the wait, don’t you agree?
When do I prune my hydrangea?
Pruning should be carried out when hydrangeas are dormant, which means in late winter or early spring. However, if you’re growing climbing hydrangeas, it would be better to prune them during the summer.
For more information about pruning different types of hydrangea, check out this website.
The different types of hydrangea
Just like every plant, hydrangea can come in various types, and here are some of them:
Those are very different from the hydrangeas we’re used to see, since their foliage is pretty unique, since they resemble oak leaf trees. These flowers are tougher than their other cousins, and can resist the cold and drought like no other.
If you want information about how to grow oakleaf hydrangea, click here.
As beautiful as their name, Annabelle Hydrangeas are part of the arborescence variety of hydrangea. Gracious and white colored, those flowers can bloom every year even after being pruned severely or going through a hard winter.
To know more about this type of hydrangeas, follow the link.
Vanilla strawberry Hydrangea
This is one of the most planted types of hydrangea, and it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, since Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas have taken the gardening world by storm even since they were discovered in France, back in 2010.
Their beautiful strawberry-pink color makes them a favorite among hydrangea enthusiasts, not only because of their grace and beauty, but also because of their resistance to the sun.
Here is more information about Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea, in case you were thinking about planting them.
Some Hydrangea problems you may encounter and their solutions
Just like any other type of plants, hydrangea can be subject to diseases and troublesome issues, but since we’re thinking about the well being of your garden, we made you a list of solutions to keep your hydrangeas an a gracious state of full bloom.
How to know that aphids are ruining your hydrangeas? Easy: if there are ands on your hydrangeas, then there are probably aphids.
Aphids are one of the most common problems on new growths, but can be easily dealt with by spraying your hydrangea with a strong blast of water (but be careful not to damage the plant). In case this doesn’t work, it is advised to use insecticidal spray or soap.
You can suspect Anthracnose if you have brown round spots with a red to purple ring on the leaves of your hydrangeas. The best way to get rid of them is to remove the affected leaves and dispose of them (somewhere far from your garden of course). You can then treat your plants with fungicide until there are no longer symptoms of Anthracnose.
I shivered just by writing this. Spider mites are invisible to the naked eye, but that doesn’t make them less dangerous for the health of your plants. Indeed, those microscopic mites can cause deformed growths on new stems, which will ruin them. Even if you can’t see the mites, inspect your leaves, you might find their webs between them. Spider mites thrive in hot and dry conditions, so always be sure to keep your hydrangeas hydrated and your soil moist. You might use insecticide, but only as a final resort, since it might kill other harmless insects that are actually good for your garden.
Hydrangeas aren’t difficult plants to take care of once you know the basics, but still, it doesn’t mean that you can just forget them. Without proper care, they might not bloom as beautifully as your expect them to, so be sure to prepare a great soil for them, to feed them the minerals they need, and most importantly, to always give them just enough sunlight to live, but not too much, since they might dry out.
If you follow these simple steps, and keep the soil always hydrated and moist, come spring, you will have a spectacle of colors in your garden that everyone will envy you!