​What, Why, and How: Caring for your Hydrangeas

Posted by Tammy Sons on 23rd Jan 2018

Gardening does not stop when the roots hit the soil. It is not simply planting, but a whole slew of responsibilities to ensure the seeds you planted develop into something healthy and beautiful. The thrill of gardening is that the amount of effort and attention put into the care of a plant will directly equal the amount of joy and happiness the caretaker receives when the plant is in gorgeous bloom. Most people have preconceived notions that shrubbery is bland. The first image to come to mind is a bare bush, that is knee to chest high, and requires more work than it’s worth. The hydrangea shrub alters all perceptions of shrubbery, flaunting magnificent flower heads and a vast assortment of colors. They are one of the more elegant members of the shrub world and are relatively easy to maintain.Like perennial plants, these type shrubs blooms for decades.

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There are numerous variations of hydrangeas, along with seemingly limitless color combinations, so choosing the right shrub for your garden will be challenging. Hydrangeas are split into groups based on where the flowers actually bloom. Hydrangeas that bloom on new growth forms cultivate their shoots on newly developed parts of the plant, and will flower consistently each year with little to no special maintenance. Nine Bark hydrangeas are smooth hydrangeas that can stand cold winters more easily. Pee Gee hydrangeas are the most common cultivators of the Panicle hydrangeas. They both bloom beautifully on newer wood each spring. The second category of hydrangeas can only flower leaves on the older wood parts of the plant that grew in last year’s season. Oak Leaf hydrangeas are native to the southern United States, and have various nicknames for their snowball-like flowers. These hydrangeas will not sprout flowers in the first year, and might still underachieve in the second and third year. However, after a couple of seasons they will soon support glorious flowers.

Another way of differentiating hydrangeas is by the type of flowers they bloom. Hydrangeas typically have two specific types of bloom formations. The “mophead” bloom is a boisterous cluster of flowers. The “lacecap” bloom is thought to be the more elegant of the two, and sports flattened, seed bearing flowers. While these types are most poplar, the variations of hydrangeas are spectacular and should be celebrated.

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Once you have decided what type of hydrangea to plant, choosing a proper location is the next priority. Hydrangeas thrive best in partially shady areas, with protection from overpowering winds. Avoid planting hydrangeas in open areas that would leave them unguarded from the elements. Pro Tip: plant hydrangeas on the eastern wall of the house to reduce exposure during the scorching afternoon hours. The quality of soil must be top-notch in order to get the best out of your plants. Hydrangeas prefer slightly moist, and nutrient rich soil that drains quickly. It is imperative that the soil drains speedily due to the excessive amount of water hydrangeas require in order to grow. As their name implies, these plants adore water and need regular hydration throughout the year. Having soil that drains too slowly will drown the roots of the hydrangea and cause detrimental damage to your plant.

In bloom, hydrangeas paint the world with their extravagant and subtle colors. The specific color of each hydrangea is made possible by a whole list of factors. A group of seedlings can all turn out with different colors based on soil type, fertilizer, and the chemical makeup of your backyard garden. Changing the color of your hydrangeas is also possible. Determine the pH balance of your soil and add either sulfur (for bluish hues) or limestone (for pinkish hues). Try adding different amounts and types of fertilizer and chemicals to different variations of hydrangeas each year to fully appreciate how unique these flowers are. Hydrangeas allow you to have a rainbow of colors right in the comfort of your backyard or in any homemade flower arrangements.

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Pruning is a crucial step in tending to hydrangeas, and occurs after your plant has begun to grow for a full season. Some hydrangeas can grow strong and healthy for many years without even needing a trim, but for most it leads to healthy plant development. The proper pruning length is entirely dependent on the hydrangeas’ variation, age and strength. Over time some plants may lose their stem vigor and struggle to hold the weight of their vibrant bounty, so clipping them to grow back stronger can revitalize the hydrangea.

The blessings of these plants appear in the colorful blossoms of their flowers, and choosing a wide selection of hydrangeas that will bloom at alternating periods during the spring, summer and fall. Oak Leaf hydrangeas bloom the earliest, in late spring. Smooth and Panicle hydrangeas peak in alternating times during the summer months. Tend faithfully to your plants, especially with regard to water, and you will have lovely blooms for quite some time.