Sure there are a lot of flowering plants you could choose from if you’re looking for a showstopper to add to your garden design, but none quite compare to the one and only hydrangeas.
This truly stunning shrub is ideal for the outdoors and will offer you large, vibrant floral globes year after year, as long as you give a little bit of care. Still, it’s really easy to get started.
So, here is our Hydrangea guide to help you cultivate, care for and grow this incredible shrub.
What Are Hydrangeas?
This Asian and American native spans over 70 to 75 different species, each as beautiful and wondrous as the next. Sometimes also called hortensia, these spring and summer bloomers make fantastic foundations for a beautiful garden.
Their blooms are definitely what makes them such a popular choice, and depending on which cultivar you choose, you can have blooms in a range of shapes, colours and sizes. Blooms come in every shade of pink, blue, red, white, purple and green.
So, how do you know which one to grow?
Four Major Types of Hydrangea
There are four major types of Hydrangeas that are often used in landscaping. These include:
Oakleaf – Hydrangea Quercifolia
This type of hydrangea offers very dramatic, sometimes cone-shaped blooms. As this particular species can withstand a variety of heart conditions, it’s a really good choice for warmer climates.
We recommend growing:
- ‘Alice’ – Larger flower clusters.
- ‘Harmony’ – Tall growing, with huge clusters.
- ‘Snowflake’ – Incredibly long clusters, often more than 30cm.
Bigleaf – Hydrangea Macrophylla
This is often the most common species found in gardens. It offers a wide range of bloom colours and often blooms long into Autumn.
We recommend growing:
- ‘French’ – Big, bold and vibrant.
- ‘Mophead’ – Stunning, big blooms.
- ‘Lacecap’ – A softer style of bloom.
- ‘Mountain’ – Extremely hardy.
Panicle – Hydrangea Paniculata
The hydrangea paniculata variety is one of the easiest, tallest growing varieties of hydrangea. Reaching almost 4 metres in height, this shrub acts more like a big, blooming tree.
We recommend growing:
- ‘Sunday Fraise’ – Pink/white blooming.
- ‘Kolmavesu’ - Pink blooming.
- ‘Great Star’ – Bright & White Blooming
Smooth – Hydrangea Annabelle
The hydrangea Annabelle blooms into what looks much like a big white snowball. This specific cultivar is well adapted to colder regions and won’t die off in the frost.
Hydrangeas Growing Guide
How to Grow Hydrangeas
The key to beautifully growing hydrangeas is knowing when, where and how to plant them. The correct method will help to save you lots of time, money and effort in the long run.
Ideally, hydrangeas should be planted during the fall or early spring. This will allow them to develop a strong and healthy root system before the next bloom. You’ll want to ensure you plant during the early morning hours or in the cooler parts of the evening so as to avoid any heat stress.
When choosing a spot, try to find somewhere where your hydrangea will be slightly more sheltered. Ideally, choose a spot that receives a good amount of morning sun and then afternoon shade. To the north or south of your home will work best.
When it comes to soil, hydrangeas need an abundance of organic material. Choose a well-draining medium with a good mix of compost, manure, cotton hulls, ground fir bark or dried seaweed.
Keep your newly planted hydrangeas well-watered for the first few days, but take care not to waterlog the soil as hydrangeas are highly susceptible to root rot.
Proper planting is absolutely important. You will want to:
- Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball.
- Using a garden fork, loosen the soil around the hole to improve the chance of root growth.
- Place the root ball inside the hole, ensuring it is not sitting too deep beneath the surface.
- Backfill with soil and create a slight mound around the base of the trunk for extra support.
The easiest to propagate are hydrangea paniculata and macrophylla, as they can reproduce by means of layering.
You will need to:
- Dig a small trench alongside the main trunk of your hydrangea.
- Bend a lower hanging branch down so that the middle part touches the soil of the trench.
- Using a grafting knife or secateurs, make scratches into the bark of the part which makes contact with the soil.
- Fill the trench with soil, covering the scratched bark completely.
- After a while, the branch will begin to grow its own roots and, once established, can be detached from the main plant.
Caring for Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas care don’t require too much attention. However, you will need to keep track of a few things to ensure a big and blooming shrub. Hydrangeas need cold, moist soil and some light pruning during the year.
Here are some care tips to help you out:
Hydrangeas will need about 3 cm of water per week. You’ll want to give them consistent moisture throughout the growing season, but not too much. A soaker hose is often the ideal tool.
Mulching is an integral part of keeping the soil cool during the heat of the summer months. Plus, it’s a pretty handy way to deter any kind of weeds that may creep up. A good organic mulch will do the trick.
Each species of hydrangea will have different fertilization needs, which can make it tricky. More so, what kinds of compounds are in your fertilizer may affect the colour of your blooms.
For hydrangea Anabelle and macrophylla, regular fertilization three times a year is best. For hydrangea paniculata and oak leaf, twice a year will suffice.
Pruning can be done to remove spent blooms and keep a healthy shape. This should be done in late winter or early spring. Simply cut back any stems which have been damaged during the course of the winter.
Pests to Look Out For
Most of the hydrangea species you’ll have found today have become quite susceptible to common diseases, which makes them hardy garden companions.
However, hydrangeas that are overly stressed may then fall victim to your common garden pests such as aphids and spider mites. Luckily, you can keep these bugs at bay with a handy, homemade vinegar solution.
Hydrangea Growing FAQ’s
How do I change the colour of my Hydrangeas?
Many first time growers will find it surprising that their hydrangea blooms may change in colour after each growing season. Unfortunately, only some species offer colour changing, but once you figure it out, it can be very cool.
The colour of your blooms will depend on the chemical compounds and PH of the soil. For example, adding limestone to the soil will give your blooms a touch of pink.
Adding sulphates will add a bit of blue. In this regard, managing your soil PH can be a lot of fun.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Hydrangeas?
Due to the extra acidity that the coffee grounds bring, they’ll actually affect the colour of your blooms. Plus, coffee grounds are very good for seedlings who thrive off the added nitrogen.
What Happens if you don’t prune Hydrangeas?
There aren’t any adverse effects if you forget to prune your hydrangea back. Just try to keep an eye out for any branches that may have died off during the winter and remove them.
Do Hydrangeas come back every year?
Yes, but only if you give them the right care. Luckily you’ve made it all the way through our growing and care guide, so you have every tool you need to maintain your hydrangeas properly.
Start Growing Your Hydrangeas Today
If you’re looking for some other garden stunners to add to your collection, take a look at our plant profiles. Hydrangeas really are fairly easy to grow once you get started, and they are such a statement piece that you may not want to stop.
Be sure to take them when planting to ensure you do so at the right time and keep them in the right place. There you have it, all you need to know to grow Hydrangeas at home.