When it comes to adding a big pop of color to your landscape, it’s hard to beat growing hydrangeas! Not only do they have large, gorgeous blooms in a variety of brilliant colors, they can actually be quite easy to grow and maintain by following a few simple tips.
Our guest garden tip article today is all about growing hydrangeas, and comes from Mary Turnbill from Upstate New York. Mary knows quite a few great tips on growing hydrangeas. In fact, as she tells us below, she is known by many as the “Hydrangea Lady”!
Hydrangeas really are fascinating. For one, the color of bloom is heavily altered by the PH of the soil. In general, the more acidic your soil, the more blue your hydrangeas will be. On the other side, the more alkaline the soil, the more they tend to bloom on the pinkish side of the spectrum. Who knew?!
What really makes them great is that they can be enjoyed by gardeners from all over. With both cold hardy and heat tolerant varieties available, they can be grown in most climates. And their beauty is simply stunning.
So with that, let’s get to Mary’s tips!
My Tips On Growing Hydrangeas
Mary Turnbill – Upstate New York
Growing Zone 5
For as long as I can remember, I have loved growing hydrangeas! We have several large bushes around our yard, and it seems like every year they bloom brighter and brighter. I can’t tell you how many of my friends and family have hydrangeas from our yard. Many of them jokingly call me the “Hydrangea Lady”. I grow several varieties, Oak Leaf, Limelight, and Endless Summer Hydrangea. Endless Summer is probably my favorite of all.
I always take a lot of joy from giving away a few plants every time I divide them. It’s a neat feeling to know that plants from our yard are all over New York State. I think even a few have made it to Pennsylvania thanks to neighbors that took a few with them when they moved.
Whenever someone asks me for advice on growing them, I always start by telling them are really only two major things to worry about, where you plant them, and the soil.
Finding The Right Area
Hydrangeas simply don’t do very well in all day sun. They need some shade during the day to really take off.
My best location for growing hydrangeas is an area that gets morning sun and late afternoon shade. I also have a few on the west side of our house that get more evening sun, and they do pretty well too. I have tried a few out in the middle of the yard in full sun over the years, and they seem to struggle more.
I baby my hydrangeas when I plant them, and it is one of the things that I think really helps. They really love rich and fertile soil. We have areas of clay, so whenever I dig up a new spot, I add in almost a five gallon bucket of compost, along with half a bucket of peat moss to the hole and mix it in. I also sprinkle in a bit of slow-release fertilizer to help the plant get off to a good start. I finish it off with a good mulching of compost right on top. It seems to really help them take off.
I have found that pruning the dead heads is really important to keep them blooming. As blooms die off, I dead head them back to the stem. It helps the new blooms have energy from the plant, and keeps them looking better too. I don’t do a lot of major pruning to the plants each year other than removing any dead wood in the late fall, and removing all of the dead bloom stems.
Most varieties of hydrangeas can be split. I have always split mine in the early spring, after the worst of the winter weather is past us.
I take a shovel about 18″ around each plant that I am going to divide, and dig up the root ball. I never let my hydrangeas get too big, so I usually dig and divide them up every 3 or 4 years. It also seems to help them bloom better.
I hope you enjoyed my tips on growing hydrangeas. They really are a very easy plant to grow, and require little work to keep them beautiful year after year. Mary, aka – the “Hydrangea Lady”
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