The 8 most important questions about planting and caring for hydrangeas


A spectacular shrub that requires little care, blooms from midsummer to late fall, and after your uncomplicated manipulation can radically change its color – an excellent option for decorating a chic garden or monotonous summer cottages.

Hydrangea is a flower that is staunchly associated with the classic English countryside from a vintage postcard. One-story stone houses with low ceilings and small attics. And obligatory hydrangea bushes on both sides of the front door. In our latitudes, this wonderful plant is also perfectly accustomed and managed to love flower growers. But, despite the fact that hydrangea has long been a regular in our flower beds, many have questions about its cultivation. To the most frequent of them, we will try to answer in our material.

  1. Where to plant hydrangeas?

Contradictory hydrangea categorically does not accept stagnant moisture but likes moderately moist soil and mild sun. Therefore, it is better to pick a place where she will be able to take sunbaths in the morning and evening, and in the area around noon will rest in the penumbra.

Do not forget that the branches of this plant during the flowering period become quite heavy, and therefore often bend to the ground. If you want to frame garden paths with hydrangea bushes, you should step back from them at least one meter. Otherwise, in the future you will have to say goodbye to the beautiful flowering branches or put up stanchions, which does not always look aesthetically pleasing.

Planting plants is better in the spring, away from large trees. To do this, you can use cuttings, the cut of which it is desirable to treat with a stimulant of root formation. In addition, hydrangea multiplies very well by dividing the bush. Growing hydrangeas from seed is a long and time-consuming process.

  1. What to add to the planting hole?

To plant a tree hydrangea seedling, you need to dig a hole of 0,5 × 0,5 × 0,5 m. Of course, the diameter and depth may vary, as it depends on the size of the root system of the seedling and the characteristics of the soil. If the soil in your garden is not ideal for hydrangeas and will require the introduction of sand, mulch, or additional fertilizers, the hole will have to be made deeper and wider. For young (1-2-year-old) seedlings, a hole of 30×30×30 cm is quite suitable.

Hydrangea prefers soils with an acidity of 4.5-5 рН. If the soil in your garden is not acidic enough, you need to add coniferous forest bedding, decomposed sawdust of conifers, or top (brown) peat to the planting hole. And if the soil on the site is heavy and infertile, fill each hole with a special nutrient mixture:

  • 2 parts leaf soil
  • 2 parts humus
  • 1 part river sand
  • 1 part high-moist peat

When planting hydrangea in the soil on no account can be added lime or ash.

After planting the soil around the seedlings should be mulched with a 5-7 cm layer of peat, sawdust, or shredded bark. This will protect the plant from dehydration and additionally acidify the soil.

  1. How do I water hydrangeas properly?

The second name of hydrangea is Hydrangea. And in Japan, it is sometimes romantically called “yearning for water.” No wonder this beautiful flower is so fond of watering. Stability – the main principle in hydrangea care, so do not water it too much, but rarely. It is better to pour about one and a half buckets of water under the root once a week. This is usually enough to keep the soil normally moist.

  1. How and when should I feed Hydrangeas?

If a nutritious soil mixture was used when planting hydrangeas, the plant will not need fertilizing for the first few years. If the soil is not fertile enough, however, the hydrangea “signals” to you about this with small inflorescences.

Industrial plant nutrients (Agricola, Aqua, Cristalon) can be used. At the same time, it is quite easy to prepare the fertilizer yourself. To do this, dissolve 10 g of urea, 15 g of superphosphate, and 15 g of potassium sulfate in 15 liters of water. The first fertilization is recommended in early spring. The second – is after the appearance of buds (20 g of superphosphate and 20 g of potassium sulfate per 15 liters of water).

During the summer (once every 3-4 weeks) Hydrangea can be watered with an infusion of cowpea. You can find the recipe in our publication Horse Manure – An indispensable fertilizer for the garden.

  1. How to fight hydrangea diseases and pests?

Sometimes powdery mildew appears on the leaves of hydrangeas. It can be fought with the help of bordeaux liquid. On the peculiarities of the preparation and use of this popular fungicide, you can read in our article Bordeaux liquid – how to properly prepare and apply. To combat aphids and other sucking pests, you can use preparations such as Fytoverm or Actellic. In general, hydrangea is quite successful against diseases and pests on its own.

  1. How do I trim hydrangeas properly?

Without pruning, hydrangeas quickly begin to look unkempt. Therefore, it is advisable to shape the bush already from 2-3 years. This should be done in September or spring before the beginning of the sap movement. Each type of hydrangea has its own specific pruning characteristics.

In the tree, hydrangea removes all weak and curved shoots to the base, as well as three-year-old branches. Young shoots are severely shortened, leaving only a few buds. The weaker the shoot, the shorter it is cut.

In the spring of a panicle hydrangea, the shoots growing into the crown are removed, and the young shoots are shortened by 1-3 buds.

Some experienced gardeners form a stem tree on the basis of the strongest shoot of the panicle hydrangea. It is thrown out to 70-100 cm, removing all the side shoots, and then form a spherical crown.

For large-leaf hydrangeas, in September, slightly shorten the shoots that interfere with the covering of the plant, and in spring, carry out sanitary pruning, cutting out all the frozen, broken, and thickening shoots of the bush.

  1. How do I cover hydrangeas for the winter?

Tree and panicle hydrangeas usually survive the winter quite well, so simply protect their roots with mulch. Large-leaf hydrangeas are more heat-loving. So immediately after the leaves have fallen, carefully bend the branches to the ground and place brushwood under them. Also, cover the top with lapnuts or dry leaves. Above the bush, it is better to additionally install a rigid frame covered with polyethylene, while leaving a ventilation hole. In spring, the protective layer is removed gradually, so as not to subject the plant to additional stress as a result of temperature fluctuations.

If your plot is favored by slugs, then before covering the ground around hydrangeas, it is worth sprinkling mulch of pine needles or treating with special preparations (Slugweed, Meta, Groza, Bros). Otherwise, the young shoots of the plant can be damaged in the spring.

  1. How do I change the color of my hydrangea?

Chameleons aren’t the only ones capable of changing color depending on the circumstances. Some plants also have this amazing ability.

If you acidify the ground under a pink-leaf hydrangea with red (raised) peat, alum or aluminum aluminate, citric acid, or other such material, it will turn blue. Plants need aluminum to form the blue pigment. It is usually sufficient in most areas, but the aluminum is only made available to the plant by a chemical reaction in an acidic environment. Thus, hydrangeas can be not only a decoration for your garden but also an indicator of the level of acidity in the soil.

If you apply acidifiers to the soil on only one side of the plant, a single hydrangea bush will give you pink, blue, and slightly lilac flowers at the same time. With white hydrangeas, alas, such a trick will not work, it will remain white under any circumstances. Nor will this method work with a shrub growing near paths, alpine slides, or limestone walls, as they strongly alkalize the soil.

As eager as you are to experiment, don’t strive to get the right color too quickly. Excessive amounts of aluminum alum applied to the soil can kill the roots of the plant. So, like a true artist, paint your garden gradually.

Hydrangea is a beautiful profusely blooming plant that can transform into a spectacular shrub in just one season. And about plants that also prefer acidic soils and can therefore settle close to hydrangeas, read our previous publications.

About the Author: Amanda Johnson

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