So you’ve planted your hydrangeas, and you’re ready to be amazed. These gorgeous shrubs have an everlasting quality about them, they’re easy to care for, and they love to grow in a range of conditions. Hydrangeas are beloved for their abundant, color-changing blooms, from blue, to pink, to white, to rose. Sometimes, you can get a variety of colors all on the same plant!
With a little bit of love and care, hydrangeas will surprise you with their versatility in the landscape, their multi-colored blooms and beautiful, serrated green foliage.
How to Grow and Care for Hydrangeas
No matter where you’re growing them, hydrangeas need moist, rich soil that isn’t too wet. Don’t be afraid to add compost to encourage growth. Throwing down some mulch will help keep the soil conditions ideal for your plants to continue growing healthy and strong.
Hydrangeas prefer sunshine, but they’re hardy enough to tolerate a little shade, especially during the hotter afternoon hours. If you’re planting in pots, keep them in a well lit room and keep them watered, especially if the plant is starting to outgrow the pot.
They’re also susceptible to dry winds. Grow your hydrangeas closer to trees, so they aren’t getting the brunt of particularly windier conditions.
How Do Hydrangeas Change Color?
Hydrangeas are almost magical with the power of their color-changing blooms. The secret, however, is in the soil. Blooms change color depending on the pH balance of the earth in which they grow. If you’re looking for more blooms of blue or pink, here’s how you can encourage them:
If you have pink flowers and you want to turn them blue, add some water soluble aluminum sulphate to the soil to increase the acidity of it.
If you have blue flowers and you want to turn them pink, increase the alkaline levels by adding lime or organic compost to your soil.
Changing the color of hydrangea blooms is much easier to do in a container rather than a bed, as you have more control over the conditions of your soil. It’s also much easier to change the color from pink to blue, rather than from blue to pink. Unfortunately, those are the only two colors you can change. You won’t be able to turn your white flowers pink, for example.
But with that, you’re now a hydrangea magician! Well, more accurately, you’re a hydrangea chemist.
When and How to Prune Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas are strikingly colorful, free-blooming plants, which is why they’re so easy to love. At the same time, pruning and caring for them properly can be tricky.
While you’re pruning, the key to maintaining different varieties of hydrangea is having a knowledge of where the buds are growing. For most species, like Bigleaf, Oakleaf, and Endless Summer hydrangeas, new buds blossom off of last season’s stems, also known as old wood. This is important to know, as it’s easy to accidentally clip off new growth as you’re deadheading.
To prevent removing new buds, prune faded flowers just below the flower head. In the fall, if your plant needs major, remedial pruning, clip the oldest, unhealthiest stems all the way to the ground in the fall. Doing so will yield larger flowers.
Varieties that grow in more compact habits do not need as much pruning. More outward growers, like “Annabelle” hydrangeas, need regular pruning but bloom on new wood, so you don’t need to worry about clipping new buds off of older stems.
As there are so many varieties, there is no all-encompassing rule for pruning hydrangeas. If you’re still unsure, look up the varieties you’re growing for best pruning practices.
Lastly, if you want to keep your plants looking their best, keep your hydrangeas’ leaves clean. They’re prone to leaf fungus, which is mostly harmless, but it can be quite unattractive. This typically happens when muddy water settles on the foliage. Be aware of any splashback as you’re watering, especially in cooler weather.
With these tips, you’re well on your way to another magical season with your hydrangeas! Are you hoping for blue flowers, pink flowers, or are you letting nature take its course?