• Sandi Manna

5 Tips For Growing Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are a staple in just about any summer landscape. Large pom poms of blue adorn landscapes not just in CT, but all over the country.

Most Hydrangeas along the Connecticut Shoreline can take a fair amount of sun, but they perform best if they have a little afternoon shade. This can come from your home, or some nearby trees.

1. They prefer rich, porous, somewhat moist soil. If you have poor, sandy soil, or heavy, clay soil you can help your hydrangeas by adding some compost and mulching appropriately.

2. Ensure your Hydrangeas get plenty of water. Leaves will wilt if the shrub is dry. To prevent wilting (drought stress) be sure the shrub gets deeply watered (2-3") each week during periods without rain. In the winter, roots are hardy, but bitter cold temperatures can damage buds. To ensure your Hydrangeas bloom, wrap them in burlap for the winter.

3. Pruning Hydrangeas depends on the variety you have. Most Hydrangeas - regardless of the variety - don't really need pruning. Mild shaping can be done immediately after the shrub is done flowering, but only if really necessary. Many mopheads set bloom late in the summer. They bloom on old wood. If you wait too long to prune them, you'll prune off all the blooms.

Panicle and Oak Leaf Hydrangeas bloom on current seasons wood. These should be pruned in late winter when the plant is still dormant. Waiting until the plant leafs out may be too late and cause a lack of blooms.

Generally speaking, Hydrangeas do not need pruning or shaping. As a rule of thumb, only dead branches should be pruned out.

4. If you have rich soil, there is no need to fertilize. If you have sandy or clay soil, an organic fertilizer once a year during early spring is best.

5. Changing the color of a Hydrangea. It is possible to change the color of your hydrangea blossom, but it doesn't happen instantly. If you want blue flowers - you're in luck! Blue flowers are created by a lower, or more acidic pH. Connecticut soil comes from the bedrock beneath, so our soil is naturally on the acidic side. By chance, if your soil is more alkaline, you can change the pH and get blue flowers by adding peat moss. If you're looking for pink flowers, add limestone to the soil. Take care though, because a pH above 7.5 will cause poor growth.

Hard water may affect the color of the flowers, causing blue flowers to turn more pinkish. If you experience this, you can combat it by watering your Hydrangeas with rain water.

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