Nothing says summer like large clusters of bright Hydrangeas and their blossoms that last for months. From the early spring until autumn, hydrangeas delight gardeners across the country.
Why? Well, they add the critical elements of texture and color to your landscape at the same time. The days of bland yards are over. The fluffy pastel clusters of blooms have made this plant a staple with professional landscape architects as well as home gardeners.
Best of all, you don’t need a green thumb to ensure your hydrangeas thrive. Follow this simple hydrangea guide for months of blooms.
Choosing the Right Variety
Consider the color of the blooms. With blossoms ranging from whites, greens and pinks to blues and purples, each color can make a dramatic change in your landscape. Be sure to choose the hydrangeas that will fit in best with your existing plants.
Take into account the mature size of your hydrangeas. Some only grow to about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, while others grow up to 6 feet tall with a 6 foot spread. Smaller hydrangea varieties are perfect for tight areas of the yard and areas with limited space. They also require less pruning and upkeep because they won’t overgrow their planting area.
Some hydrangeas even grow in tree form. They have a single trunk that leads up to a ball of lush green leaves and large flower clusters. Hydrangea trees make a bold statement as accent pieces in the garden and in containers framing entryways.
And know your growing zone! While some hydrangeas are extremely cold hardy and thrive in the harsh winter conditions up to zone 4, other hydrangeas are only cold hardy to growing zone 6. There are even types of hydrangeas that are only cold hardy to growing zone 8.
If the hydrangea that you really want isn’t cold hardy enough for your growing zone, simply place it in a container and bring it indoors during colder months. Hydrangeas thrive in containers and look great on porches, decks and patios.
Hydrangeas: Planting and Care
When you’re deciding where to plant your hydrangeas, select a location that receives full to partial sunlight. An area that receives sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon will be best. Hydrangeas also thrive in dappled shade.
Dig a hole twice as big as the root mass and just as deep. Then remove any debris like grass, dirt clumps and rocks from the hole. Use a pitchfork or shovel to loosen the soil around the hole. Next, place your hydrangea in the hole and make sure that it’s level with the surrounding ground before gently backfilling the soil.
After the planting process is complete, give your hydrangea a long drink of water, until the soil becomes moist but not oversaturated. Pay attention to the amount of rain in your area because hydrangeas need an inch of water a week. If it hasn’t rained, supplement the water with the hose. Make sure the soil stays moist.
When you’re planting hydrangeas in a container, ensure the bottom of your pot has drainage holes.
While hydrangeas often don’t need any fertilizer, they will still benefit from the nutritious boost. Fertilize your hydrangeas once in the early spring and again in the late summer with a well balanced formula like 6-6-6 or 8-8-8. Blue hydrangea varieties prefer fertilizer that’s more acidic. Look for a package that says it’s for ‘acid-loving shrubs’ or formula 30-10-10.
If you need to prune your hydrangeas for shaping or to prevent them from growing too large, then it’s best to prune them in the midsummer once their blooms start to fade. Use a sterile pair of hand pruners or loppers and make your cuts at 45-degree angles facing upwards to promote new growth. Make your cuts directly below the clusters of faded flowers, and cut older or dead canes back to the ground. Also, remove any crisscrossing or damaged stems.
The bloom color isn’t set on all hydrangea varieties and can often be changed from blue to purple to pink and even red. It’s incredibly simple to change the bloom color so it will fit in with the rest of your plants better. For example, the Nikko Blue Hydrangea and Endless Summer Hydrangea will have deep blue blooms if their soil’s pH is kept around 5.5. For pink to red blossoms, raise the pH of the soil to around 7.0 or higher. Add lime to your soil to raise the pH and sulfur to lower it. You can test the pH balance of your soil with a pH meter found at your local gardening store.
You can clip hydrangea flowers all summer to place in vases. The perfect centerpiece on tabletops or room accent with a burst of color? Check. However, hydrangeas can wilt as soon as you cut them. To prevent your beautiful flowers from wilting, pick them in the morning before they get hot in the summer sun. Also, choose the older, more mature blooms, as they are less sensitive. Remove the leaves because they will steal water from the blossoms.
Boil water and stick the end of each stem into it. This will clear out any sap at the end of the stems that will clog them and prevent water from traveling up to the flowers. Then immediately place your hydrangeas in a vase filled with room temperature water. Change the water on a daily basis to keep the flowers fresh and bright.
Hydrangeas for Summer...and Beyond
With summer finally here, we can all enjoy our backyards and pools. Enhance your landscape and make it more enjoyable with beautiful Hydrangeas that bloom for months and provide a sweet floral scent. Your family and friends won’t get enough of their vibrant color!