Hydrangeas 101: A Beginner's Guide to Growing and Caring for Hydrangea Plants
Discover the secrets to vibrant blooms and healthy plants with our guide to hydrangea care. From watering tips to soil pH tricks, we've got you covered. Unleash your gardening skills and let your hydrangeas thrive! Download the Odlamer app to unlock the secrets of succeeding with hydrangeas.
Hydrangeas are beautiful flowering shrubs known for their large, showy flower heads. They are popular among gardeners due to their vibrant colors and ability to thrive in a variety of climates. If you're a beginner looking to grow hydrangeas, here's a guide to help you get started:
Choosing the right variety:
There are several varieties of hydrangeas, each with its own growth habits and flower colors. The most common types include mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), lacecap hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla normalis), panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata), and oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia). Research different varieties to find the ones that suit your climate and personal preferences.
Selecting a suitable location:
When it comes to sunlight, many hydrangeas do better in partial shade or where light can filter down through trees above.
The white, pink or blue color on Hydrangea macrophylla depends on the pH of the soil. In neutral to slightly acidic soil, the flowers will be white, pink or red. It’s only in acidic soil that blue hydrangeas can retain their dark and vibrant color. Fertilize with rhododendron soil or peat to lower the pH of the soil.
Dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the root ball of your hydrangea. Gently loosen the roots before placing the plant in the hole. Backfill with soil and firm it around the base of the plant. Water thoroughly after planting.
Hydrangeas thrive in soil that retains moisture but is not saturated. Whether you plant in a pot or in the ground, it is better to give plenty of water once a week than to give little water several times a week. Mulching around the base of the plant can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.
Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in spring when new growth begins. Avoid over-fertilizing, as it can lead to excessive foliage growth and fewer flowers. Follow the package instructions for the recommended dosage.
Pruning requirements vary depending on the type of hydrangea. Mophead and lacecap hydrangeas bloom on old wood, so they should be pruned immediately after flowering. When clear leaf buds appear in the spring, it is time to prune. Hortensias and smooth hydrangeas can be pruned quite hard, leaving only up to 10-15 cm. This helps to create a bushy and sturdy plant.
Panicle hydrangeas bloom on new wood, so they can be pruned in late winter or early spring. Oakleaf hydrangeas also bloom on old wood and should be pruned after flowering. On panicle hydrangeas like 'Limelight', old flowers are cut off and branches can be shortened more carefully to give a denser plant.
Changing flower colors
Some varieties of hydrangeas can change flower colors based on soil pH. Acidic soil (pH below 7) produces blue flowers, while alkaline soil (pH above 7) produces pink flowers. You can adjust the soil pH by applying amendments like aluminum sulfate for blue flowers or lime for pink flowers. White hydrangea varieties are not affected by soil pH.
In colder regions, hydrangeas may require protection from harsh winter conditions. Mulch around the base of the plant to insulate the roots and prevent freeze-thaw cycles. In extreme cold, you can also wrap the plant with burlap or cover it with a protective structure.
Hydrangeas can be susceptible to pests like aphids and spider mites, as well as diseases like powdery mildew and leaf spot. Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of damage or disease and take appropriate measures to control them.
Remember, hydrangeas are generally forgiving and resilient plants. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy their beautiful blooms in your garden for many years to come.