Hydrangea Planting and General Care Guide

pink hydrangea blooms on shrub
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Hydrangea Planting and General Care Guide

Your Complete Guide to Hydrangea Care and Planting

Following just a few simple growing tips for your hydrangea bush will produce healthy plants with fluffy colorful blooms year after year.

Planting Your Hydrangea

Choose the Right Spot

Most hydrangea varieties thrive in full sun to part shade, if they are planted in moist, rich soil. Although hydrangea bushes are shade tolerant, they require adequate sunlight and irrigation to bloom properly. In northern climates and coastal areas, hydrangeas will grow beautifully in full sun, but in warmer southern areas, a location in part shade where the hydrangea bush receives full to partial morning sun with protection from harsh afternoon sun is ideal.

When planting hydrangeas, remember that the blooms and stems must be protected from strong winds as well as the hot afternoon sun. Planting hydrangeas in open areas with strong winds could break the stems. To protect them from harsh sun, plant hydrangeas on the eastern side of a building or structure to ensure that, in the afternoon, when the sun is at its hottest, your hydrangea plants are in the shade.

Make sure your hydrangea plant's roots have good drainage. If the soil is too wet, the roots might rot, causing the hydrangea plant to die.

When and How to Plant Your Hydragea

You can plant hydrangeas from early spring to fall. If you are planting hydrangeas in the summer, they will need a lot more water initially to get the root system established. The cooler temperatures of spring and fall put less stress on the transplanted hydrangea.

Incorporate generous amounts of organic matter and an all-purpose, slow-release fertilizer into the soil to give your hydrangea plant a strong start. Hydrangea flowers change color depending on the soil conditions: see Changing Hydrangea Color before choosing a fertilizer because certain elements of the fertilizer affect the soil pH, which is a major determinant of bloom color in the pink and blue varieties.

Placed in the right location, given ample moisture, and pruned using the guidelines above, your hydrangea bushes will be an abundant source of gorgeous blooms long into the future.

The American Hydrangea Society has additional information to help you with hydrangea care.

General Hydrangea Care

Water your hydrangeas deeply once a week, more, if the weather is particularly hot or dry.

Hydrangeas do not require pruning, but most will benefit from it. Prune different varieties differently: see Pruning Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas may produce pink, blue, or lavender blooms, depending on soil conditions. If you want to change or intensify the color see Adjusting Hydrangea Color

Hydrangea Care FAQs

How do I determine whether my hydrangea blooms on new wood or old wood?

The easiest way to know is to keep a record of the type of hydrangea you have when you buy it. If you're not the original purchaser, you can make a note of when the hydrangea blooms. If your bush blooms in the early summer, you most likely have a hydrangea plant that flowers on old wood (previous year's stems). If your hydrangea blooms mid to late summer, you probably have a plant that flowers on new wood (the current year's stems).

Which type of hydragea grows best in full sun?

Panicle hydrangeas are known as "full sun" hydrangeas. 

What type of hydrangea grows best in patio pots and containers?

Look for hydrangeas that are referred to as compact or reach a mature height of 5 feet or fewer.

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Limelight Hydrangea
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