Sunday, February 23, 2014

How to Grow Beautiful Hydrangeas

how to grow hydrangeas
Creative Commons 2.0 by Toshiyuki IMAI
Edited by Stephanie Manning

Growing hydrangeas in your landscape is an easy way to add color, butterflies, and uniqueness. They are beautiful, easy to maintain plants, that have unique blooms and work well for adding color and character to your flowerbeds.

One of the many things that make hydrangeas unique are their globe-like blooms, which are actually a cluster of several tiny blooms. These beautiful plants are commonly grown in warm, southern states and are preferred for their hardiness, bushiness and brilliant flower heads. They are easy to grow and make great plants for both beginners and expert gardeners. Below you will find everything you need to know on how to grow Hydrangeas including light, water, fertilization and other requirements for a beautiful, healthy plant that will reward you year after year.


Hydrangea Description  

blue hydrangea
Creative Commons Image by Riley Huntley
(Huntley Photography)
Hydrangeas are a shrub-like plant with large flower heads that contain many small blooms. The small blooms grow in a large, round shape like a snowball. The colors can range in pale shades of white, blue, light green, pinks, dark pinks, lavender and reds.

The foliage is a light, dull green that becomes full and lush making the perfect backdrop for it's beautiful blooms.

Hydrangeas Do Best in Moist Soil 

Hydrangeas require moist soil during the growing season to produce an abundance of beautiful blooms. Keep the soil moist {but not soggy} during the flowering season, watering daily during hot weather. During non-blooming seasons, allow the soil to become partially dry to moist. Do not allow it to dry out completely or you may have problems with bud and leaf drop, and scorching of the roots.

A Few of the Many Hydrangeas Available on Amazon

Amazon is a great place to find rare plants, cultivars and varieties that may not be available in your area. Here are a few of the many different colored hydrangeas available on Amazon. You can find even more varieties and colors by searching for Hydrangeas on Amazon.

Light Requirements for Hydrangeas

Do Not Put Hydrangeas in Full Sun!
Hydrangeas do well in full or part shade. Never plant hydrangeas in full sun as they will scorch and dry out quickly. A few hours of indirect sun is acceptable as long as the soil is moist.

How to Fertilize Hydrangeas      

***Never Fertilize Hydrangeas While They are Blooming or They May Drop Their Flowers***
Unlike other plants, Hydrangeas should not be fertilized during the growing season.

Hydrangeas like an acidic soil. The exact pH level should be decided using the desired color listed above. After flowering season, add sulfate to lower the pH or lime to raise the pH level to suit your needs.

Withholding fertilizer during the growing season will promote a healthier, longer lasting blooms for a spectacular display. Fertilizing during the blooming season can cause your hydrangeas to drop flowers, prevent blooming and change colors, which will defeat the purpose of growing these beautiful bushes.

In general, you can use an all-purpose fertilizer, but they will perform best with an acidic fertilizer created just for plants {such as hydrangeas} that require a high acidic level. One that I would recommend is the Miracle-Gro Miracid 30-10-10 fertilizer. It will add all the nutrients your hydrangeas need to produce graciously, including the Miracid to insure a the correct pH level.

How to Prune Hydrangreas

Hydrangeas need to be pruned to encourage new growth and establish a nice shape. Only prune during dormant months to achieve a desires shape or size.

At the beginning of spring as Hydrangeas can be cut back a few inches above the soil to establish a thick, compact bush. If you want a large, lush Hydrangea then you should only prune when needed to maintain a specific shape or size, or to remove old growth.

Changing the Color of Hydrangeas

Hydrangea blooms range from a lavender-blue to a soft pink, with an occasional white, dark pink, or red. The exact color of the bloom depends on the soil conditions and the variety you are growing. New varieties are less likely to change colors though the shades may change slightly. The new varieties are easily to spot as they usually have rich colors in deep pinks and purples or have several colors on a single bloom such as pink, orange and green.

How to Change the Color of a Hydrangea  

To change the color of hydrangeas you will need to alter the soil pH. It's quite simple and just requires the addition of a fertilizer geared for pH alternations.

Pink Hydrangeas
For pink Hydrangea blossoms maintain a soil pH at or near 6.5

Blue Hydrangeas
For blue or purplish colored blossom, maintain a pH at or near 5.0.

How to Check You Soil pH:
You can check your soil pH and other factors using a soil meter or pH kits. They range from a few dollars up to $30+. The more expensive soil meters can test not only the pH, but also the moisture and sun exposure for that specific area. Simply press the stake in the ground and within a few minutes, you have an accurate reading for your soil, light and moisture.

How to Change the pH of Your Soil 
  • Add sulfate to lower pH.
  • Add lime to raise pH.

Propagating Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are best propagated by cuttings. Seeds are an option, but there is a lot to it, and the germination rate isn't very high. In addition, due to all the hybridizing, there is no way to determine what your new hydrangea would turn out to be, if anything. To insure you get the hydrangea you want, it's best to propagate them by cuttings, plus- it's so much easier and quicker this way!

How to Grow Hydrangeas from Cuttings
During the active growing season, take several cuttings from a healthy hydrangea. Place cuttings in moist soil in a well draining pot. Cover the pot with a plastic bag or dome to retain moisture and create humidity. Keep cuttings in a shaded area and prevent the soil from drying out.

After roots are established, transplant into a larger pot and harden off before planting in the landscape. Young, tender Hydrangeas will need to be protected during the winter months until a good root system is established after the first year.

What Are Your Thoughts & Tips for Growing Hydrangeas?

Are you a fan of the beautiful hydrangea? If so we would love to know about it. Please share your thoughts, tips, questions or suggestions related to hydrangeas in the comment section below.

And, if you liked what you read, consider sharing it on Pinterest so that others can read and enjoy it, too! :)



  1. I an considering transplanting my hydrangea from the original pot to a planter. Do you have any experience with growing them in a planter or do you know if they would thrive in one at all?

    1. As long as the container is big enough for the plant then it should be fine. You will need to repot it every couple years as needed. Eventually, it will have to be put in to the ground unless you keep it pruned back as hydrangeas can grow very large over time.

  2. I absolutely LOVE hydrangea bushes! These are awesome tips on taking care of the plant. Here's to beautiful blooms! Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty - we hope to see you again on Friday. :)

    Life With Lorelai

  3. I have the most beautiful hydrangeas, just grew them from sticks in the winter, and stuck them straight into the ground. They grew easily and had the most huge flowers. I like them to be blue so I put Iron Sulphate around the ground. My question is how do you dry them. I live in the South West of Australia, but my daughter in the UK said they leave them on the bush until they start to go crisp and then bring them inside an put them in water and they dry out. Mine don't go crisp, they change colour and go sort of green/pink to dark pink but don't go crisp. If I pick them and bring them inside and put in water, they just die! Is there anyone in Australia who has dried hydrangeas

  4. When the flowers die is it safe to cut off the dead blooms or do you just let them fall off on their own. If you do cut them how far back?

  5. I have 3 large plants. They face west 2 get shade most of the day,one gets afternoon sun. None have had one bloom for years. Ive tried everything and have given up. I've pruned, not pruned, fertilized, not fertilized.

    1. I read on another blog to try putting coffee grounds around the bush.

  6. Our hydrangea bushes have not bloomed in 3 year. Please advise.

  7. My hydrangea die all the way down to the ground every's like we have to start over constantly.. why do they do this? With them dying back like this they don't ever get big and pretty like I've seen. They may get a foot tall then it's time to die back.. help

  8. My husband just gave me some hydrangeas, I'm so excited but I have no clue how to care for them. The original pot is small I'm considering translating them to a bigger pot, any tips? Also the flowers seem to be wilting :( is there anything I can do to keep them from dying? Thank you.


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