People often have hydrangeas because their blossoms are beautiful. However, they can be difficult to coax out of hiding.
Some types of hydrangeas need a lot of extra care all year long to make sure that they bloom, and you may not be able to solve the problem in this growing season.
However, by taking the time to give hydrangeas what they need to thrive and bloom, you will be able to enjoy them in the future.
Tips to Help Hydrangeas Bloom
1 – Make Sure That You Prune Correctly
There are different varieties of hydrangeas, and some flower on old wood while others flower on new wood. You need to know which you have so that you can prune the correct way.
If you have hydrangeas that grow from old wood, you need to be careful that you don’t prune away the flower buds. You need to keep the stems over winter so that they are ready to bloom.
The species that grow from old wood include Hydrangea macrophylla, Hydrangea quercifolia, and Hydrangea anomala.
You can prune these types of hydrangeas in the late summer just after the flowers fall and the strong shots are there. However, don’t remove more than the top third.
You can prune back Hydrangea arborescens or Hydrangea paniculata because they grow from new wood. You can prune them in the late winter of the early spring.
Pruning is important because it helps them form new flowers, and it helps promote a nice shape. If you don’t prune them, they will eventually appear as a mass of tangled stems and you won’t see the flowers.
The best way to get beautiful flowers is to keep their shape by pruning regularly. This ensures that you have larger, healthier flowers for years to come.
2 – Make Sure That Hydrangeas Get Enough Sun
It is important to make sure that hydrangeas get enough sun. Nearly all hydrangeas prefer morning sunlight, but the hydrangea paniculata loves sun all day long.
If your garden has an area that gets sun in the morning and afternoon shade, any hydrangea will do well there. The morning sunlight is less harsh than the afternoon sun, so the plant gets the light that it needs to grow but it doesn’t have its leaves burned.
Most hydrangeas need about four hours of morning sun, so make sure that you plant them in the right location. If they are in a spot that gets too much sun, you may need to protect them.
In the middle of the summer, the heat from the sun can burn the hydrangeas flowers and leaves. This can make the plant weak and kill its leaves.
The best way to protect it is by using a sunshade or a sun cloth to shade it during the hot afternoon. You can actually make it yourself fairly easily.
Take two stakes and stick them in the ground. They should be taller than the hydrangeas, and then you can attach a sheet that is a light color to each stake.
Make sure that you place the sunshade on the side that gets direct rays from the sun, but don’t let it block the morning sun. You only need to use it during the hot summer days in areas that don’t offer any afternoon shade.
3 – Protect Your Hydrangeas Over the Winter
During the winter months, you need to protect your hydrangeas. Your first step is to cut away the old wood at the base, and remove any branches that are dead or weak.
However, make sure that you stay away from any healthy wood, as this is where your hydrangeas will bloom next year.
Next, you can make a fence around the hydrangeas to protect them over the winter. Start by using stakes to make a frame around the plant.
You can take chicken wire and wrap the stakes to resemble a cage. Then, fill the cage with pine needles and leaves to insulate your hydrangeas.
The best way to plan for this is to rake your leaves over the fall so that you have them to fill the cage before the winter comes. You need to protect the branches of the hydrangeas so that they are able to bloom when the time comes.
If your hydrangeas are in pots, you should bring them inside before you have your first frost. If you aren’t able to move them, you should protect them by covering the entire plant, including the pot.
You need to insulate the pot, so try using foam insulation. Although it is a lot of work, it is important to take the time to do it because it allows your hydrangeas to stay healthy and bloom the following year.
4 – Be Vigilant for a Spring Frost
After you have protected your hydrangeas for the entire winter, it would be horrible to lose them when an unexpected spring frost occurs. You need to pay attention and protect them if this happens.
If you have already taken your plant’s winter protection away, you will want to be prepared to cover it in case of a spring frost. You can use a cloth, burlap, or heavy paper, but you should not use plastic, as it can damage the plant.
Your hydrangeas can recover if you don’t get them covered, but it can cause a setback. You will want to wait until the temperatures warm up, and then prune anything that was affected by the frost.
It may still bloom later in the year, but it will definitely be found the following year. A late-season frost can kill the new growth on your hydrangeas, and you may not have much in the way of blooms in the coming months.
5 – Don’t Give Hydrangeas Too Much Fertilizer
Hydrangeas do well when you fertilize them once or twice in the summer. The best way to approach it is by using compost around the roots of the plant, which can produce great results and improve the condition of the soil at the same time.
You should not fertilize your hydrangeas after August. In the fall, hydrangeas will start to get ready for dormancy, and fertilizing your plants late in the year could cause new growth.
In southern locations, you can fertilize them in late May and again in July, while northern areas might only fertilize them once a year in late June.
Too much fertilizer has the potential for greater harm than too little fertilizer. It is easy to cause fertilizer burn if your hydrangeas are over-fertilized. The first sign of this problem is that the leaves will start to look scorched.
Your hydrangeas can wilt and die if you over-fertilize, so it is better to be overly cautious. If your plant looks wilted at all, make sure that you stay away from fertilizer and only apply it when the plant looks healthy.
Some people believe that fertilizing the hydrangeas will make them bloom, but this is a myth. If your hydrangeas are not blooming, it is likely to be a problem unrelated to the fertilizer.
Another myth is that people believe that fertilizer can change the color of hydrangeas. This is not true, whether you want to change the leaves or the flowers.
6 – Make Sure That You Give Hydrangeas Enough Water
When you have hydrangeas, you need to make sure that you provide them with enough water and understand their needs. They are known to need water, but they don’t want to be soaked.
The best way to know if your hydrangeas need water is by looking at their leaves. If the hydrangeas need water, their leaves will droop.
If you have newly planted hydrangeas, you need to make sure that they are watered until they are established, and then you must water them regularly. This is especially true when it is very hot outside.
You should make sure that you plant your hydrangeas in soil that retains moisture well, but it should also be well drained. You should not plant your hydrangeas in a location where there is any standing water.
When you plant them, make sure that you water them three times a week so that they establish a strong root system. Because they tend to have shallow roots, you should definitely use mulch to protect them and add organic matter to the soil as it breaks down.
If your hydrangeas are established, you can use drip feeders or soaker hoses to water your hydrangeas, as they get water right to the roots. Different species of hydrangeas have different water needs, so be sure to know what yours is.
For example, Hydrangea macrophylla needs the most water, while Hydrangea arborescens and Hydrangea quercifolia don’t need as much.
If you keep your hydrangeas in pots, you should use a light-colored ceramic pot as it will help the plant retain moisture. Keep in mind that dark colors absorb heat much more quickly.
You will also want to make sure that there is a drainage hole in the pot, and water your plant at least three times a week. You will want to place water around the entire container rather than soaking one spot, and you should see water coming out of the drain at the bottom.
Never let your hydrangeas sit in water, as this is bad for the roots and causes them to rot.
If you have your hydrangeas indoors, you will want to water them the same way. Do not allow them to sit in water, but be sure to give them water at least three times a week.
By watering your hydrangeas properly, they will have the best possible bloom.
7 – Use Mulch to Keep Your Hydrangeas Moist
Mulch is a great tool to use when you are growing hydrangeas, as it helps to protect the soil and the roots of the plant in many ways. Not only does it help hold moisture in, but it keeps weeds from growing near the plants.
Mulch can also regulate the temperature of the soil and help to prevent erosion of the soil. Many plants benefit from mulch, and hydrangeas are no different.
You will want to spread it and maintain it properly for the best blooms and growth.
Start out by choosing your mulch material. With hydrangeas, it is best to choose an organic mulch that can decompose and return organic matter to the soil.
Organic mulch is full of nutrients, and you can keep your own compost pile that you use. Some of the best materials for your mulch include compost, dead leaves, pine bark, and pine straw.
When you apply the mulch, it should be between three and five inches deep. If you are using finer mulch, you can stick with three inches because it is more compacted and more could prevent air and water from getting to the soil.
If you are using larger pieces of mulch, you should have about five inches, and if it is medium, you want four inches. As you apply it, spread it so that it covers the entire area under the plant, but leave a few inches free around the stem of the hydrangeas to reduce the risk of crown rot.
You will want to add more mulch each year so that it starts the growing season with a full mulch, and you may need to add to finer mulches more often.
8 – Check for Diseases and Treat Them
Although diseases and fungi are not commonly a cause of issues with flowering, you need to check for diseases and damage that may have occurred. Most of the time, hydrangeas are disease-resistant, but they can get a fungus infection that causes damage that will prevent them from blooming.
Most diseases that affect hydrangeas show on the leaves, but the roots and flowers can also be infected. The plant will often recover as long as you take care of it.
One type of disease is leaf spot diseases. The primary symptoms that you will see are on the leaves, where the spots are caused by different fungal diseases.
This happens to hydrangeas that are living in moist conditions where water accumulates on the leaves and remains there. You need to treat the plant with a fungicide.
You may need to remove and destroy infected leaves to prevent it from spreading.
Viral hydrangea diseases are another illness to keep an eye out for. Viruses are spread to plants by insects, and they are normally insects that suck on the juices of the plant.
There are a total of 15 different viruses that can affect hydrangeas, and the big leaf varieties are most vulnerable. You will notice that the hydrangeas are suffering with mottled leaves, blisters, distortion, stunting, rings, and chlorosis.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for viral diseases, and the infection will ultimately infect the entire plant and kill it. You will need to remove it so that it doesn’t spread to other plants in your yard.
The best way to handle viral infections is to prevent them. You can sterilize your garden tools before you use them, and make sure that you reduce the number of pests.
There are a few other diseases that can harm your hydrangeas, including powdery mildew and rust. Powdery mildew comes from a fungus, and it covers the leaves and flowers.
You can treat powdery mildew by increasing your air circulation, reducing the humidity, and removing any part of the plant that is infected.
Rust comes from parasites, and it causes red pustules all over the leaves. You can manage it by removing the infected parts of the plant.
There is another disease called Botrytis blight that can attack any type of hydrangea. There will be water-soaked lesions that show up on the leaves, stems, and flowers.
If you want to treat it, you can apply a fungicide and make sure that you are careful not to spread it to other plants in your yard.
Types of Hydrangeas
In North America, there are five primary types of hydrangeas.
1 – Hydrangea macrophylla (Bigleaf Hydrangeas)
This variety is also called hortensia, florist’s hydrangeas, and french hydrangeas. It is the most common variety, and there are three different types, including the following:
- Mophead: The most popular bigleaf hydrangeas, they have large flower heads in purple, blue, and pink. They can handle cold weather as long as it doesn’t get too cold and dry.
- Lacecap: They are nearly identical to mopheads, but the blooms have a slightly different shape.
- Mountain: These are the least common, and they have smaller flowers. They are hardy.
2 – Hydrangea paniculata (Panicle Hydrangeas)
These have cone-shaped flower heads, and they start white and turn to pink. They handle the cold best of all, and can be grown further north than other varieties. They are also the only ones that will form trees.
3 – Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth Hydrangeas)
This variety is native to the United States, and they are also known as wild hydrangeas. They can handle heat and are found in Zones four through seven. They are often planted as hedges. The best known of this type is the Annabelle hydrangea.
4 – Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangeas)
This one has leaves that resemble oak leaves, and they change color in the fall. It doesn’t do well in places that are continuously wet.
5 – Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangeas)
This type is a climbing vine, and they grow in zones four through eight. They are native to Asia, and they have large blooms and they can grow as much as 80 feet long.
If you take care of your hydrangeas, they will give you a beautiful bloom. However, you should make sure that you know what these plants need before you plant them.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.