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Hydrangeas are very showy deciduous shrubs that are fairly easy to care for provided you supply a few simple conditions that will enhance their beauty and performance.

This delightful shrub has tremendous architectural qualities with its mounding habit, large flowers and pallet of color.  Hydrangeas have been growing in popularity because of their beautiful domed or flattened flowers which appear during summer.  They also offer a terrific backdrop to small garden plants in the perennial garden.  The overall size of hydrangeas will vary depending on the variety.

How to Plant/Grow Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas can be grown either in sun or shade.  They will have more blooms when grown with more light.  Their blooms will be fewer and appear lanky if provided insufficient light.  In hot areas, they often perform best in afternoon shade and morning sun. They work extremely well in foundation plantings, such as on the east side of the house, or in a hosta garden where it might receive some morning or afternoon sun.  Use a good balance, slow release fertilizer and apply ¼ cup around the base of smaller plants or per instructions on box.  Spread fertilizer out to the drip line, but do not place it near the trunk or base of the plant.

Hydrangeas will perform best in a rich soil with good drainage.  Dig a hole about 2-3 times the size of the root ball and equally as wide.  Amend with peat moss and place the required amount of Osmocote in the hole.  Space them according to how wide they will ultimately become.Water your new plants well.  Hydrangeas should receive about a 1 inch of water a week.

Hydrangea Color

Depending on the varieties you have selected, plants can be encouraged (except for white) to change color from pink to blue or red to purple. 

The color of your hydrangea flowers will depend on the ph of your soil.  You can purchase a soil test kit from a local nursery.  To raise the acidity (or lower the ph; add aluminum sulfate) which is available from a local nursery.  The best blue color comes from an acidic soil that ranges from 5.5-6.0.  Pink color comes from soil around 6.0-6.2.

Hydrangea Maintenance

Hydrangea pruning techniques is dependent on the particular type of Hydrangea.  Pruning care is important for overall vigor and health.

H. macrophylla (Big leaf Hydreangea, mophead, lacecap varieties).  This type flowers from buds formed on  growth produced the previous year, so pruning should be done immediately after blooming. Prune weak stems to the ground and deadhead stems to the last bud. 

H. quercifolia  (Oakleaf Hydrangea). This type gets its name from the oak-leaf shaped leaves. These hydrangea are pruned after flowering.

H. arborescens (Annabelle Hydrangea). This form can be pruned in late winter/early spring. Remove any dead growth. You may also choose to cut it back by half in May to keep compact

H. paniculata. This type of Hydrangea flowers on current seasons growth. They can be pruned in late winter or early spring. This form exhibits an upright habit and can be pruned into a tree form.

H. anamala (Climbing Hydrangea). This form does not require pruning. This Hydrangea can be pruned in the fall after blooming.

Garden Design with Hydrangea

The use of plant colors and textures are important in overall garden design.  Hydrangeas offer a wonderful backdrop to many perennials or in foundation plantings either as a specimen plant or planted in groupings.  Hydrangea combinations may be more challenging because of variations of color due to the ph of the soil.  In gardens where there is a combination of shade (near the base of a tree) and full sun, hydrangeas work beautifully.

For sunnier areas of the garden, plant Hydrangeas with:  Coneflowers, Daylilies, Ornamental Grasses, Roses, upright Sedums
For shadier areas of the garden, plant Hydrangeas with:Hostas, Ferns, Hellebores, Ornamental Grasses for shade,