Keeping Hydrangeas Beautiful

Keeping Hydrangeas Beautiful

All summer. We want our Hydrangeas to stay lovely for as long as possible, right? Many of these wonderful shrubs are the most long-flowering plants we can grow, and there are things you can do to keep the blossoms in peak condition.

1. Hydrangea flowers last longer if the shrubs are shielded from the hot afternoon sun. Hydrangeas tolerate full sun, but the flowers get toasty very quickly in hot weather. You don’t necessarily have to move any shrubs that are already in direct sunlight, but you might want to consider planting a few more in a location that gets morning sun and afternoon shade.

2. Be sure to take the “hydra” part of their name seriously. If the flowers dry up during hot spells, they won’t bounce back and be lovely through the summer. Be sure to water your plants well in very hot, sunny weather. A layer of mulch around the plants can help conserve moisture, and a yearly application of an inch of compost before mulching will amend the soil from the top down, which also helps.

3. Snip off dried up flowers. On some varieties this won’t stimulate new flowers but on others it will. If the flowers have dried up, snipping them off improves the look of the plants tremendously and for some Hydrangeas will trigger the plant to produce new flowers.

4. Don’t fertilize a thirsty plant or apply a concentrated dose of synthetic fertilizer. Using too much fertilizer, or applying it when the shrub is already dry, can lead to fertilizer burn. For most Hydrangeas one or two application of an organic fertilizer is all that is required.

5. Plant a variety of types of Hydrangea. From lace caps to mop-heads, or Hydrangea paniculata varieties to Hydrangea arborescens, you can have flowers from June into October. There are now short, medium and tall varieties so you’ll be able to find several that fit well in your landscape.

Watching Hydrangea flowers develop is one of the pleasures of the summer garden. Many of these flowers are initially white when they begin to open and the colors, pink or blue, develop later. So if your hydrangea looks like this one, don't jump to the conclusion that you need to "make it more blue." It's likely that the flowers have just begun to take on their color.

2 Comments

  1. Jam Moon on August 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Why some of my Hydrangeas do not flower?

    What can I do to make the flowers blue.

    • CLFornari on August 8, 2012 at 8:10 am

      Jam – Hydrangeas (mopheads and lace caps, the blue and pink varieties of big-leaf hydrangeas) won’t flower if they are in too much shade, if the stems get cut down completely at any time of the year, or if the winter temps go below zero fahrenheit. Since they form their flower buds the previous summer, if you cut the canes down you won’t get flowers. Those buds are also killed by cold – even cold winds with temperatures in the single digits will kill flower buds. So don’t prune any living canes much and be sure that your hydrangeas are getting at least three hours of sunlight.

      Hydrangea flowers for Hydrangea macrophylla (the mophead and lace cap varieties) turn blue in acidic soils. So in order to change them blue you need a pH that is below 6. You can lower pH of soils with Sulfur or Aluminum Sulfate. White flowering hydrangeas such as Hydrangea paniculata and H. arborescens can not be made blue. These varieties usually start out white and either turn green or pinkish as they age, but nothing will make them blue.

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