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June 15, 2022



If you’re looking for a garden flower with show appeal, hydrangea flowers are truly stunning. Large globes of flowers cover this shrub in summer and spring. Although their appearance may seem high maintenance, with the right conditions and care, hydrangeas are actually fairly easy to grow. So grab your garden gloves, because our growing hydrangeas guide will have you ready to plant in no time.


Hydrangeas are much-loved deciduous hardy shrubs, some of which are climbers. Their striking flower heads come in a range of shapes, from large balls to cones. The most popular and recognizable types are mophead and lacecap, with large, rounded flower heads in shades of white, blue, and pink in summer and autumn.

There are compact varieties for smaller spaces or containers, double-flowered and bi-colored choices, and varieties that offer a change of color as the flowers mature. There are even varieties that flower on old and new wood, flowering twice. Some have scented flowers, others have beautiful autumn foliage. This means there’s a hydrangea for every garden, whether you’re looking for a more traditional style for a cottage garden or shrub border, or a more contemporary or urban look.

Hydrangea arborescens Wild Hydrangea
Hydrangea Blue Enchantress

Height & Spread

Mature size differs depending on the variety. Some are as small as 3-feet tall and wide, while others can reach 15-feet tall and 12-feet wide.

Sun or Shade

Most hydrangea plants bloom best in part shade, but some will tolerate full shade or full sun. The amount of sun they can handle depends on your location—in areas further north they can take more sun, while further south they prefer just a few hours of morning sunlight.

Hydrangea Invincibelle Wee White
Hydrangea Quick Fire

Bloom Time

Hydrangeas usually bloom in summer, with some blooming earlier in the season and some later (and if you’re lucky, possibly even into fall).


Hydrangeas do best in moist, well-drained soil and dappled shade – not too sunny and not too shady. Avoid south-facing positions, especially if the soil is very dry. For a very shaded spot, grow the climbing hydrangea Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris. The young growth is prone to frost damage in spring, so avoid planting in a frost pocket and plant away from strong winds.

When planting a Hydrangea, remember that the blooms and stems must be protected from strong winds and the hot afternoon sun. Planting them in open areas with strong winds could break stems. To protect them, 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.

Hydrangeas will thrive in most soil types, including alkaline and acidic soil. However, the pH of the soil will change the color of the flowers of some varieties. Some plants that usually offer pink flowers will appear blue if the soil is acidic.

Source: Gardeners World:

Pink Hydrangea
Hydrangea arborescens Wild Hydrangea


Gently remove the hydrangea from its container and inspect the root ball, snipping off any dead or rotting parts and teasing free the roots if the plant is especially root-bound.

Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. The base of the plant (where the stem meets the soil) should be level with the top of the planting hole.

Set the plant in the hole and fill it half full with soil. Water generously. After the water is absorbed, fill the rest of the hole with soil.

Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil in the planting area it might be beneficial to mix in a soil amendment to the native soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in dense clay or poor soil it is beneficial to thoroughly mix in 25 to 50 percent good organic matter, such as composted cow manure, mushroom compost, sand, and/or a good planting mix with the clay soil. When planting in very sandy, quick-draining soil you might want to consider mixing in some top soil, peat moss and/or compost to help retain moisture. When planting in fertile, loamy, well-drained but moist soil there is no need for adding a soil amendment.

Mulch after planting, ideally with leaf mould; alternatively use well-rotted manure or compost. Water again and keep the plant well watered throughout its first spring and summer.


For the first year or two after planting and during any drought, be sure hydrangeas get plenty of water.

Water at a rate of 1 inch per week throughout the growing season. It’s better to deeply water 3 times a week than sprinkle water in a shallow manner. This encourages root growth.

Bigleaf and smooth hydrangeas require more water, but all varieties benefit from consistent moisture.

Leaves will wilt if the soil is too dry, and flowering will be hampered by a lack of water. 

Use a soaker hose to water deeply and keep moisture off the flowers and leaves.
It’s best to water in the morning to prepare hydrangeas for the heat of the day and to avoid disease.

Add organic mulch underneath your hydrangeas to help keep the soil moist and cool, add nutrients over time, and improve soil texture.

Hydrangea Paniculata Bobo
Growing Hydrangeas


Based on your specific hydrangeas. Each variety has different needs and will benefit from different application timing. The best way to determine your fertility needs is by using a soil test.

Specialty formulated hydrangea fertilizer is available. Commonly found all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer is the easiest to use. It should be applied in spring or early summer. Not in the fall as that is when the plants are preparing for dormancy, and the fertilizer could trigger new growth which isn’t healthy for the plants. It is important to remember, that adding fertilizer will not cause a hydrangea to bloom.

Bigleaf hydrangeas can benefit from several light fertilizer applications in March, May, and June.

Oakleaf and panicle hydrangeas do best with two applications in April and June.

Smooth hydrangea plants only need fertilization once, in late winter.

Soil pH

One of the most interesting aspects of hydrangea is that some varieties have flowers that can change color.

This is due to soil chemistry, with pH levels able to affect the flower color of bigleaf and mountain species, H. macrophylla and H. serrata.

Typically, flowers are blue in the soil of high acidity, and mauve to pink in alkaline soil. Some shrubs will even show all three colors at once!

If unsure of your soil’s pH, it’s wise to test before planting.

To alter pH levels and manipulate flower color, treat the soil well before the flowers bloom, starting in late summer and continuing the following spring.

To encourage blue blooms, grow in acidic soil with a pH of 7-3-3. Jack’s Hydrangea Plant Food 7-3-3 is safe and easy to apply.

Incorporating naturally acidic materials such as coffee grounds, peat moss, pine needles, oak leaves, or sawdust will increase levels slightly and slowly.

Or, you can increase soil acidity by adding aluminum sulfate, ammonium sulfate, or a soil acidifier. 

For mauve to pink blooms, more alkaline soil is needed with a range of pH 6.0-6.2.

Garden lime is the easiest way to raise the soil pH (alkalinize it). Apply at the rate outlined in package specifications.

Retest your soil periodically to monitor the effects of any soil amendment – over time, the pH will revert to its original levels.

And if you want to maintain a certain pH level, the soil should be tested annually.

Also, it should be noted that species with true white or cream flowers, like the oakleaf, H. quercifolia, will stay their original color regardless of the soil’s chemical composition.

Source: Gardeners Path:

Growing Hydrangeas
Wild Hydrangea


If you are planting hydrangeas in the summer, they will need a lot more water initially to get the root system established.

Space hydrangeas anywhere from 3 to 10 feet apart, depending on the type. Always space plants based on their expected size at maturity.

Autumn is the best time to plant hydrangeas, followed by spring planting. The idea is to give this shrub plenty of time to establish a healthy root system before the heat of summer or the extreme chill of winter, which makes the cooler shoulder seasons the best times to plant.

Plant the shrubs in early morning or late afternoon. It’s generally cooler and the plant is less likely to suffer heat stress from direct sunlight.

Please remember that ingestion of hydrangea leaves and flower buds can be toxic to cats, dogs, horses, and humans.


Hydrangea macrophylla (lacecap and mophead hydrangeas) and Hydrangea serrata:

Prune in mid-spring. They produce their flowers on old wood, so don’t prune them back hard, or this summer’s flowers would be lost. Traditionally, the old flowers are left on over winter as it protects the new growth beneath. Cut back the flower head to just above the top set of plump buds that are forming under the dead flower head. This is where the new flowers will form. If you have an overgrown plant, cut some of the stems off at the base.

Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea aborescens:

Cut back in early spring. Pruning is not essential, but left unpruned the plant will get taller with most of the flowers at the top. These two types of hydrangea produce flowers on new wood, which means that you can cut them back harder without losing this year’s flowers. Prune last year’s growth back to a healthy framework that’s between 30cm and 60cm high, depending on how tall you want your plant to be. Prune to just above a pair of healthy buds on each stem.

Hydrangea aspera and Hydrangea quercifolia:

Lightly prune in spring – just remove old or crossing stems and old flower heads.

Climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea petiolaris: 

Prune in summer after flowering for best results. Cut back the flowered shoots to a pair of new buds.

Source: Gardner’s World:

Hydrangea Fairytail Bride