Hydrangeas are a beautiful garden shrub known for their brightly colored and uniquely shaped blossoms. Hydrangea care can be a little intimidating, but once you know what you’re doing, your plants should flourish without trouble.
Changing Blossom Colors | Hydrangea Care
Hydrangeas have been coined “nature’s own pH tester” as the colors of the showy blooms the shrubs produce are dependent on the acid level of the soil in which it grows. Plants growing in acidic soils tend to produce flowers with blue hues, while those grown in alkaline soils usually sport blossoms in shades of pink. White hydrangea flowers indicate a neutral soil pH. The color of your hydrangea blooms will give you a good indication of the soil content’s make-up.
You can modify the flower colors of hydrangea plants and bushes by simply amending your soil. For hues of blue, add aluminum sulfate to the soil before the appearance of buds. For pink hues, add superphosphate to the soil before the plant begins to bud. For best results, consult with the staff at a reputable garden center or trusted greenhouse or nursery for recommendations on the amount of soil amendments you should use.
Planting Tips | Hydrangea Care
1. When planting or transplanting a hydrangea, be sure to keep the root ball moist until you’re ready to put the plant into the ground, keeping in mind that hydrangeas generally prefer well-drained, rich soils.
2. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and approximately twice the width.
3. Loosen the root ball by gently teasing the roots with your hand before placing it in the hole. Do not plant the root ball too deep.
4. Mix 3 cups of compost with 3 cups of peat thoroughly and add it to the hole before filling the soil back in. You may need more or less depending on the size of the hole.
5. Tamp the soil and add mulch to the top of the backfilled soil.
6. Be sure to water well during the first season after planting to lessen the effects of shock and to give the roots a good chance to become established.
Maintenance | Hydrangea Care
After the hydrangea is well-established — this usually takes 2-3 years — remove weak and damaged shoots at the base of the shrub annually to concentrate the energy of the plant. Keep the majority of the older, healthy-growth stem of the shrubs to maintain strong, hardy plants. Remove dead wood shoots and any thin or damaged shoots in the fall after the peak-blooming period has passed. Wait at least 5 years before pruning the hydrangea severely in the fall to make sure the plant is established enough to bounce back in the spring with vigor.
This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.
Do you have any hydrangea care tips? Share your knowledge in the comments below!