Tips for Selecting, Planting, Growing and Blooming
When it comes to Hydrangeas, there are lots to choose from. There’s the traditional “mophead” varieties and these are now available as the smaller growing plants.
Not only are they available in smaller growing plants but you can get a variety called Endless Summer that will rebloom throughout the season! There’s a series of Endless Summer Hydrangeas including the Original, Blushing Bride, Twist N Shout and Bella Anna. You can read more about them here. The Original Endless Summer, Blushing Bride and Bloomstruck are in stock now.
Then there are “lacecap” varieties. These have flat-headed blooms which are much lighter and more airy than the mophead types. I almost forgot to mention that the Mophead and Lacecap types are available in blue, white or pink and varying degrees between. I’ll explain more on colors below.
Next are Hydrangea paniculatas. These are slightly different varieties with a different flower shape and growth habit. You can find many of these varieties such as Angel’s Blush or Bobo from Monrovia. These varieties are often pictured with pink flowers but it is not the case out here in the Western United States. The climate in the eastern part of the country results in the pink flowers, out here they are just white. However, still worth consideration. These varieties are more upright and larger growing with a different leaf and large cone shaped flower. To see some of the varieties available* click here.
Lastly, and my favorite, are the the Oakleaf Hydrangeas. I would say these are the most unique hydrangeas. The leaves are very large and are reminiscent of an oak leaf. The flowers are very large, narrow, cone shaped and white. Oakleaf bloom a little later than the rest of the hydrangeas but last the longest. In the fall the leaves turn brillant colors ranging from yellow to deep purple and hold their color on the plant until spring when the new leaves push the old leaves off. In essence this is almost a year round plant despite the fact that it is categorized as a deciduous shrub.
*Does not indicate every variety is available on site. For more information on special ordering, ask us.
Where to Plant
Hydrangeas are a partial shade plant. This means that the ideal location would be in morning sun and afternoon shade. They will stress and have burned leaves in too much hot sun, except for the Oakleaf! Be sure to select a location that has decent draining soil, they will not do well in soggy parts of the garden. However hydrangeas need to be watered thoroughly and regularly too, more on watering below.
How to Grow
Watering is important in our climate and just as much so for hydrangeas. Since hydrangeas have large leaves, they will use a lot of water. It is important to water thoroughly during each watering. An established plant, in the ground, should be fine getting watered no more than 3 days per week through the warm months. For more information on watering for your specific situation, please come by and speak to us! An exception is the Oakleaf hydrangea, it can stand somewhat drier soil.
Fertilizing is another important issue with Hydrangeas. Since they are very lush they need plenty of nutrients on hand. Proper fertilizing will reduce the frequency of your fertilizing routine. I recommend Gardner & Bloome Rose & Flower fertilizer. Using the recommended amount, apply in spring as growth begins to emerge and once more 2-3 months later. That’s it! It is important not to fertilize in the heat of the summer and during the fall and winter the plant is not doing too much so fertilizer is not necessary.
Pruning is often done in the wrong season. The best time to prune hydrangeas is after the blooms are done. Now this may be mid-summer or late fall depending on your preference. Hydrangea blooms last a very long time and continue to color back to green as they age. You may or may not like how they look. I personally love how hydrangea blooms age! It is important to prune by fall at the very latest and only prune to shape. There is no need to prune in winter or early spring, before buds emerge and you might prune off bud wood. The only exceptions are the Endless Summer series. These should have the spent blooms removed as soon as they are discolored so the plant can put energy into new blooms.
You probably already know that you can enhance the color of hydrangeas but aren’t sure of details so here we go. Hydrangea macrophylla (Mophead & Lacecape types) are bred for color but the color of the flower is solely based on the pH or acidity of the soil. Creating an acidic soil will result in blue or bluer blooms, while creating a more alkaline soil will result in pink blooms. If our soil is left unaltered a blue hydrangea will turn lavender to light pink depending on your particular soil. However a white hydrangea will always be white and the Oakleaf as well as the Paniculata hydrangeas are not at all effected by soil pH. To create an acidic soil, you can use Master Nursery HydraBlue, Soil Sulfur or if you prefer an organic alternative, Cottonseed meal. These may need to be reapplied every couple weeks or months depending. To create a more alkaline soil you can use Dolomitic Lime. You want to apply Master Nursery HydraBlue or Dolomitic Lime as the new growth begins in March and every couple weeks until the blooms begin to color. Cottonseed meal should be applied in the fall and again in the early spring. For the Endless Summer series you want to continue treating the soil until it no longer produces new bloom, while monitoring the soil pH so make sure it doesn’t get to acidic or alkaline.
I know that is a lot to take in so if you have any questions please leave a comment or ask one of our knowledgeable staff!
Happy Hydrangea Season!