What are Hydrangeas?
Hydrangeas are a genus of flowering plants native to the Americas and Asia, especially China, Japan, and Korea. You can find them in over 75 species, including shrubs and climbing plants, that can grow to heights nearing 30 meters. However, the most common garden species are shrubs ranging from 1 to 3 meters.
Additionally, these plants flower in various colors ranging from white to deep blues to suit any garden setting. Moreover, depending on your location, you can choose between evergreen or deciduous varieties.
Hydrangeas feature two flower arrangements, including:
The Bigleaf Hydrangea
This variety features mophead flowers that feature large round flowerheads similar to a mop.
The Lace Cap Hydrangea
This variety features round, flat flowerheads that combine small flowers with outer rings of larger flowers.
Hydrangeas can pretty much grow anywhere provided the soil is well-drained, rich in moisture, and there is a shade to protect them from the hot sun. However, there are newer breeds available that can withstand all seasons. Keep reading to discover all you need to plant hydrangeas.
What is the Best Time to Plant Hydrangeas?
The best time to plant Hydrangeas is during spring or autumn when the temperatures are not as hot. This is because the plant’s large petals tend to wilt very quickly. However, you can still grow them in the summer, provided you water the plant regularly and with ample shade. Furthermore, the plant can grow in various conditions ranging from USDA Hardiness zones 3 to 9.
For example, smooth hydrangeas such as the Annabelle variety thrive best in spring, with the plant producing large white flowers in mid-summer. Additionally, smooth hydrangeas bloom on new wood each season, with the stems hardy enough to withstand zone 3 winters. Furthermore, the flowers are heavy, with some dropping to the ground once they reach full maturity.
Where to Plant Hydrangeas (Indoors vs. Outdoors)
Hydrangeas are ornamental plants and work best as outdoor plants. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider anting them outdoors.
- The shrubs grow to about 1 to 3 meters which may be too large for your apartment. For example, the Oakleaf Hydrangea can grow to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide.
- Hydrangeas require a period of dormancy that you can only offer by planting them outdoors. Most hydrangeas bloom during spring and summer after going through a dormancy period in the winter.
- The plants require ambient light to thrive, which can be hard to provide when grown indoors. However, ensure to shade the plant from direct sunlight since it can cause the plant to dry out quickly.
- You can also use hydrangeas as a garden border with the mid-summer to autumn blooms creating beautiful colors for your yard and patio. Hydrangea flowers come in various colors, from pink to all varieties of purple, depending on soil acidity.
- Hydrangeas can be harmful to your pets. Varieties such as Fido and Fluffy contain cyanogenic glycosides, which cause gastrointestinal issues in cats and dogs when ingested. Furthermore, the plants can also attract various pests and diseases if you do not take care of them correctly. Therefore, always consider planting hydrangeas outdoors for the best results.
Although it is not recommended, you can still grow hydrangeas indoors under the right conditions. Here are a few points to consider for your indoor hydrangeas.
- Always choose the coolest room to grow your hydrangeas. This is because direct heat and high room temperatures can cause the plant to dry out and die.
- Consider a well-lit room to grow your hydrangeas. Like all plants, hydrangeas require sunlight to produce plant nutrients necessary for growth. Hydrangeas thrive with the early morning sun and slight shade in the afternoon for optimum growth.
- Indoor hydrangeas only bloom for one season. Unless you plan to transplant it outside, always have a replacement for the next season.
- Choose the correct variety of hydrangeas for your indoor plants. Hydrangea macrophylla is one of the hardiest species of the variety and can survive various indoor conditions. In addition, it does not require much care and will bloom for months if you take good care of it. Always check with your florist for advice on taking care of your plant to ensure its longevity.
- Finally, provide ample water for your indoor hydrangeas for them to thrive. This is because hydrangeas tend to wilt and dry out quickly when grown indoors due to the lack of moisture in the air.
How to Care for Hydrangeas in Pots
Here are the key points to consider when growing hydrangeas in pots.
Decide on The Appropriate Location
Hydrangeas need ample sunshine and shade to thrive. Therefore, always consider locations that provide these conditions to give your hydrangeas the best chance. For example, you can place your potted hydrangeas on the patio as it offers the best conditions regarding aeration, sunshine, and shade.
Choose Hydrangeas Suitable for Your Region
Although hydrangeas can survive a wide range of hardiness zones, some varieties are hardier than others. For example, mountain hydrangeas are ideal for locations that experience harsh winters, while oakleaf hydrangeas bloom best in sunny conditions.
Always Choose Large Containers for Your Hydrangeas
Another important point on how to care for hydrangeas on pots is always to use large pots with wheels. This is because you can move the plant around depending on the environmental conditions to provide favorable conditions for growth. You should also consider using pots with holes at the bottom to promote soil drainage because pooling water can cause the roots to rot.
Use Potting Soil with Organic Matter
Hydrangeas are extremely water-hungry, and adding organic matter to the potting soil helps with moisture retention. In addition, the organic matter slowly decomposes, adding valuable nutrients to the soil to ensure your plant is healthy. Furthermore, ensure you plant your hydrangea in the middle of the pot to promote even root growth.
Use Mulch to Protect Your Plant During Winter
Mulching is a great way to protect your hydrangeas during winter. Typically, a mulch layer of 6 to 8 inches is ideal for protecting your plant from temperature changes and high winds during winter nights. Furthermore, you can add extra protection by surrounding your plants with a cage. This will prevent animals such as rabbits from damaging your plants as they forage for food.
Use a Slow-Release Fertilizer for Your Hydrangeas
Potted hydrangeas also need supplementary food sources to promote healthy growth. For example, you can use 10-10-10 commercial fertilizers to feed your plant twice a year to provide supplemental nutrients. However, you should avoid fertilizing your plants in July and August if you live in warmer climates. This is because the excess fertilizer will attract pests that can damage the new blooms.
5 Problems With Hydrangeas in Pots
Below are some common problems you may experience with hydrangeas in pots.
1. Insufficient Watering
Hydrangeas in pots require more water than ground hydrangeas. This is because the plants have a limited area to absorb water from and require regular watering to thrive. Always check your plants daily to prevent the soil from drying out. In addition, only water the plant until the soil is moist to prevent root rot.
For example, you can use an automatic drip irrigation kit to water your hydrangeas if daily watering is an issue. You can set the equipment to offer your plants ideal watering rations to prevent over-watering.
2. Insufficient Lighting
Another common problem for hydrangeas in pots is insufficient light. Hydrangeas can grow to a width of about 8 feet, resulting in other plants on your patio not receiving enough sunlight for food production.
Therefore, consider rotating your plants regularly as they grow to promote healthy growth during the seasons. Alternatively, you can use artificial lighting during dark winter days to provide the light they need for optimal growth.
3. Leaf Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects hydrangea leaves that experience huge temperature swings. You can spot it as the grey coating on your plant’s leaves, and it often spreads when your plant leaves are constantly wet.
You can prevent the spread of powdery mildew by cutting off the infected leaves and ensuring that you water your plant at the base. Alternatively, you can use neem oil from your gardening store and apply it to the affected leaves.
4. Excess Fertilizer
Although fertilizer is necessary for healthy hydrangea growth, too much of it can damage your plant significantly. Hydrangeas that receive too much fertilizer experience root burn and have fewer flowers. In addition, an excess of nitrogen stimulates leaf growth and can also result in soft stems of your hydrangea plant.
5. Leaf Rust
Leaf rust is a fungal disease resulting from improper watering of the hydrangea. It occurs on the underside of leaves as orange spots, which eventually turn yellow and drop off. You can prevent leaf rust by ensuring you water your plant at the base or using a fungicide from your local garden store.
Best Soil for Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas grow best in loam soil that contains high organic matter. These plants require plenty of water to thrive, and loam soil offers the best drainage with good moisture retention. In addition, hydrangeas can tolerate different soil pH levels, each resulting in different flower colors.
For example, acidic soils (pH 6.5 and lower) will produce blue flowers for big leaf hydrangeas such as Hydrangea Macrophylla. Alternatively, you can change the color to pink by increasing the soil’s alkaline level to over 6.5. You can do this by adding ericaceous compost to the surrounding soil as mulch or mixing it directly into the planting area.
Furthermore, you can increase the soil quality by introducing earthworms to feed on the decaying plant matter. Earthworms help mix nutrients as they move through the soil and make it more porous for the roots to grow.
How To Plant Hydrangeas
The best time to plant hydrangeas is during autumn. Follow these steps to prepare your garden.
- Ensure your planting holes are about two feet wider than the plant’s roots.
- Next, ensure that the hole is deep enough to accommodate the root ball. You can determine this by keeping the plant level with the surrounding soil or placing it higher to facilitate drainage.
- Finally, place the plant at the center of the planting hole and compact the hole to cover the roots completely. Finally, consider spacing multiple hydrangeas between 4 and 10 feet apart, depending on their maturity size.
How To Propagate Hydrangeas
Here is how to propagate your hydrangeas:
- Dig a trench next to your plant and stretch a six-inch branch along it.
- Then scratch the bark on the branch and use a paver to hook it on the ground.
- Fill the trench with soil and water the branch generously. It will eventually grow roots, and you can transplant it to a new location.
How To Care for Hydrangeas in Different Seasons
Here are a few bite-sized tips for growing your hydrangeas across the seasons.
How To Care for Hydrangeas In The Spring
Hydrangeas are best pruned during spring since there is minimal growth, and the plants are preparing to go into dormancy.
How To Care for Hydrangeas In The Fall
Remove dead and old stumps from hydrangeas during fall to promote new growth. Additionally, cut the flower head and new leaves to make room for next summer’s blooms.
How To Care for Hydrangeas In Winter
Ensure you shelter your hydrangeas in the winter to prevent frost damage. Additionally, ensure you water them at least once every month to ensure the roots remain moist for the coming spring.
Recap: Hydrangea Care
If you want to know how to plant hydrangea, in fact, this is very simple. When the factory is ready to find a region, the maximum size of the plant may be 4 x 4 feet. Some may be bigger, therefore, adapt to the factory. Dig a hole with the same depth of the root ball, it came in. The surface of the container will present the surface of the soil, which can be described as a level of burial.
Soil composition is also important. Do not keep in the clay, so keep too much water and may cause root rot to kill your hydrangea. Make a test, dig a 1 foot hole on the ground and say that hydrangea will grow place. Fill the hole with water, let the water station. If the water completely disappears within 15 minutes, the soil is very good because it is drained. Anything that will be more than 30 minutes to an hour too tight and may hurt your hydrangea.
Watering plants should be religious regardless of plants in a container or ground. However, when it is on the ground nature will help with occasional rain that may be 5-6 days, depending on what you live. Hydrangea, it is important to know how much water. These plants are tenacious, they are very picky when the water intake. Hydrangea like moist soil, but not wet through the soil. If they are exposed to the wind, direct sunlight, or heating, it will dry out the flowers. Defense, the plant itself requires a considerable amount of water intake.
If possible, install the drip irrigation system to keep the soil moist and not overhead. The overhead watering will cause a lot of pests and diseases, and hydrangeas are easy to get due to the wet leaves. Drip systems also use less water in the long run, they keep the soil directly under the plant moist and not stay in the leaves can evaporate.
Wise water plants are deep enough once a week, and the water is completely absorbed from the soil surface about 9 inches below. In arid time, it is wise to water twice a week to ensure maximum soil moisture.
To ensure maximum soil moisture retention, it is recommended to use plastic film shrubs to ensure effective water retention. However, applying a plastic film requires an adjustment of the irrigation schedule to ensure that the soil does not overcome the saturated root rot.
– Visible roots will show signs of fungus growth and decaying matter around the base of the tree where roots are exposed.
– Damaged root systems will take an overall toll on the whole shrub. Because not many would go digging into the soil to expose roots, diminished buds is a good indication the shrub is not doing well. Lesser clusters will amount to fewer blooms.
– If root rot is apparent in the flowers, leaves will show a considerable sign as well. Because there have been some damage to the roots, leaves can turn yellow rather than its rich dark green hue. Defoliation is also a sign of overwatering.
It’s important to know that any plant that look weak or maybe in trouble should not have any fertilizer applied to it.
It’s generally accepted to feed hydrangeas once or twice a summer and should not be fertilized after summer.
Hydrangeas takes root as cuttings very successfully. Meaning that if you were to cut a hydrangea and placed it into the ground or water, it is likely to develop roots without any encouragement. When you want to take a cutting from a hydrangea, it’s best to take a stem that is a non flowering stem. cut back all but 4 leaves and leave about 6 inches from top to bottom. Because it’s important for cuttings to take root, a little encouragement is not unwanted. Dipping the stem into rooting hormone can greatly improve your chances of establishing that cutting.
If successful, take the stem and leave it in the container of soil for a month or two to establish roots. Wait until planting season, which is in either early summer or late fall, then place the whole plant into the ground. It is best to get cuttings in early summer so the new cuttings can get established and mature so they can survive the winter better. As it takes time to propagate, early summer provides the best amount of time for trial and error before the first frost comes.
Hydrangeas may look intimidating to a new gardener; but, they are hardy and forgiving. Growing hydrangeas is often rewarding as the flowers it produces can be used to amplify an already beautiful garden or enhance a subtle garden. The flowers can also be brought inside to enhance surroundings within a dwelling. These flowers can also be dried and made into ornaments which can last for a long time.
The hydrangea plant has various meanings; but, only through interpreting it your own way, a hydrangea can symbolize anything from an abundance and fertility, to being modest and sincere. Regardless of what the meaning is, this plant is beautiful and is often one of the most commonly used plants in wedding bouquets.
Enjoy growing with your hydrangea because it is not only nature’s pH strip, but also a mood ring for you. Grow with your plant and your plant will grow with you.