Gorgeous big blooms line these low growing flowering shrubs. Hydrangeas are perfect for any landscape - big or small! They are low maintenance plants that rebloom all summer long in the right growing conditions.
Add a splash or pop of color to your woodland garden with these shade loving plants. Hydrangea shrubs can be grown as a small bush or trained into a small tree with heights of up to 6-8 feet tall.
Hues of white, purple, pink, and blue explode into flower clusters in early summer and may last until early fall depending on the hardiness of the specific plant. The flower color depends on the pH of the soil and the type of hydrangea you have planted.
Hydrangeas can benefit from the addition of slow release fertilizer or acidic/basic solutions to change the soil pH. Fertilization should be done in early spring for the summertime flower blossoms to open.
These late bloomers will bring beautiful colors after all the spring flowering plants open up. A nice way to extend the colorful blooms into a new season. Hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs meaning they lose their leaves in the wintertime.
Some can grow from a single trunk like the Oakleaf Hydrangea tree but most have multiple stems shooting out. The Penny Mac Hydrangea is popular for having either pink, blue, or a mix with purple blooms depending on the soil pH. Limelight Hydrangea has huge, iconic white flowers that bloom every spring.
These flowering shrubs perform best in well draining soil, morning sun, and afternoon shade. The addition of organic matter to amend the soil will help if soil conditions are not ideal.
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How to Care for Hydrangeas
Are Hydrangeas Perennials?
Hydrangeas are perennial plants that will come back year after year. They go through a bloom period in spring and summer, and most hydrangeas are deciduous meaning they lose their leaves over winter.
How to Plant Hydrangeas
Dig a hole at least 2-3 times the size of the root ball. Take the hydrangea plant out of the nursery pot and loosen up the roots if they are entangled around the root ball. When placing the shrub into the planting hole, make sure the top of the root ball is level with the ground. You don't want it planted too deep. Backfill with native soil or amended soil such as our Acidic Potting Soil to give the hydrangea a good start. Water thoroughly the first year of planting to establish strong root systems and you can cover with mulch to help retain moisture.
Where to Plant Hydrangeas
The best place to plant hydrangeas is an area in your landscape with slightly acidic, well drained soil that is kept consistently moist. They like fertile soil that is nutrient rich to provide plenty of big flower heads in the spring and summer. Hydrangeas like partial sun to partial shade and most cannot tolerate the hot afternoon sun. Generally, hydrangeas can grow across the United States in USDA hardiness zones 3-9.
How Far Apart to Plant Hydrangeas?
Hydrangea spacing depends on the mature width of the variety you are planting. For example, the Limelight Hydrangea and Penny Mac hydrangea can get up to 4-6 feet tall and wide so the spacing should be at least 2-4 feet apart. On the other hand, Oakleaf Hydrangea can grow up to 8 feet tall and wide and should be spaced wider to allow more room for growth. Space hydrangea from 3-10 feet apart depending on the variety and the look you are going for.
When Is the Best Time to Plant Hydrangeas?
The best time to plant hydrangeas is in early spring so the plants have the whole growing season to establish roots and produce their large flower buds. Fall is another great time to plant so the hydrangeas can focus on growing their roots instead of flowers and foliage before winter.
Can Hydrangeas Grow in Pots?
Planting hydrangeas in pots is a great option if you do not have a huge landscape or yard to plant them in. Smaller hydrangeas like the Penny Mac will work perfectly in containers.
How to Care for Potted Hydrangeas
Wondering how to plant hydrangeas in pots? You must choose a pot with a drainage hole. Hydrangeas don't like wet feet, and soil that is too wet can cause root rot. A well draining potting soil for potted plants works best. It has added perlite to help with drainage and aeration. Hydrangeas in terra cotta will need watered more frequently because the material of the planter evaporates water more quickly than if they were in the ground. An annual application of fertilizer will help the potted hydrangea grow and thrive!
How to Grow Hydrangeas
Growing hydrangeas has never been easier! They are adaptable to many climates and easy to grow. All hydrangeas need to thrive is consistent moisture, a partially sunny spot with afternoon shade, yearly fertilizer, and lots of TLC!
How to Prune Hydrangeas
You should prune your hydrangeas to encourage healthy growth and tons of summer blooms! Knowing whether your hydrangea blooms on new wood or old wood is essential when pruning hydrangeas. Trimming hydrangeas at the wrong time can cut off next year's blooms. Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood should be pruned after flowering. Vice versa, hydrangeas that grow on new wood should be pruned while the plant is dormant.
When to Prune Hydrangeas
The best time to prune hydrangeas is in late winter or early spring while the plant is still dormant and leafless. Pruning hydrangeas for winter gives the plant a chance to create new branches and growth in the spring and produce big, huge hydrangea flowers year after year. The Limelight hydrangea or panicle hydrangea blooms on new wood. Prune this hydrangea in spring. While the Oakleaf hydrangea blooms on old wood and should be pruned just as the flowering period ends in late summer or early fall.
When to Transplant Hydrangeas
The best time to transplant hydrangeas is in early spring so the plants have the rest of the growing season to re-establish in their new home. You do have the option to transplant in the fall if you have enough time before winter. The soil will be cooler, which allows for the roots to establish quicker in the new planting spot. The worst time of year to transplant hydrangeas is in the midst of summer when the temperatures would be too hot.
How to Transplant Hydrangeas
Transplanting hydrangeas is possible if you need to move your plant to a new location. We do recommend digging up as much of the root ball as possible to give the hydrangea shrub the best chance possible at thriving. The soil at the new planting hole needs to be workable so the roots have room to grow. Make sure to dig the new hole before digging the hydrangea out of its old spot. You want it to spend as little time as possible out of the dirt. You may prune the hydrangea back if it is large and unruly. Dig a trench around the root zone and use your strength to pry it out of the ground. Transport it to the new location, backfill with soil, and water thoroughly.
How to Deadhead Hydrangeas
You can trim off the faded or wilted hydrangea flowers. This will keep the hydrangeas looking their best and encourages healthy growth in the leaves and roots. It will divert the plant from putting its energy from keeping the flowers alive to putting out new growth. Read more about deadheading here.
How to Fertilize Hydrangeas
The best fertilizer for hydrangeas is our Slow Release Fertilizer which is an all purpose pelletized fertilizer that will slowly make the fertilizer available over the time period of 1 year. That means they only need to be fertilized once a year!
When to Fertilize Hydrangeas
The best time to fertilize hydrangeas is in early spring so they have the whole growing season to utilize the nutrients that will slowly become readily available to the plant roots.
Do Hydrangeas Like Acidic Soil?
Hydrangeas do like acidic soil with a pH between 5.2-6.2. Use our Acidic Soil to help amend the native soil. For color changing hydrangeas like the Penny Mac, a more acidic pH will change the color of the hydrangea flowers to blue while a more basic pH will change the color of the flowers to pink. We have even seen a mix of pinks, blues, and purples with multiple pH levels throughout the soil.
How to Water Hydrangeas
When watering hydrangeas, be sure to use a soaker hose at the base of the plant. You don't want to water from above and get the foliage or leaves wet. Wet foliage is at risk of contracting fungal diseases.
How Often to Water Hydrangeas
So exactly how much water do hydrangeas need? During the hotter months, the hydrangea plant should be watered around 3 times per week. This will also depend on rainfall and weather patterns in the area. The best way to tell if your hydrangea needs watered is by sticking your finger a knuckle deep in the soil and feeling for moisture. You can also use a moisture meter if you are feeling fancy! If your hydrangea is planted in a container, water the pot until it comes out the bottom and never let the plant's roots sit in water. This will cause wet feet or root rot. If your hydrangea’s leaves look wilted, the best way to revive hydrangeas is by watering more frequently.
How to Winterize Hydrangeas
Preparing hydrangeas for winter isn't a hard task but it is necessary to ensure they live through the harsh temperatures and cold of the winter months and so they can bounce back with new growth for spring. We do recommend watering up until the ground is frozen. Contrary to popular belief, hydrangeas still need to be watered during winter when possible. You can add a layer of compost if desired to give an extra boost before winter. And always mulch your plants with a thick 2 inch layer of mulch such as pine bark or pine straw to help insulate the root systems during winter.
How Much Sun Do Hydrangeas Need?
Hydrangea bushes prefer partial sun to partial shade. Morning sun and afternoon shade are best because the hot afternoon sun can burn the leaves. We recommend a planting spot with at least 2 hours and up to 5-6 hours of dappled sunlight every day.