Hydrangeas are a popular plant to have in the garden because they are vibrant and colorful when they bloom. However, there are times when the bloom is so heavy that it causes the plant to flop over and possibly break off.
You can make your hydrangea stems stronger by changing the way you prune them. The key is to understand how you can encourage the hydrangeas to grow with stronger stems.
Why Hydrangeas Flop Over
The blooms on hydrangeas are beautiful and they are larger than other types of flowers. This is both what makes them desirable and what causes the problem.
There are a few things that you can do to reduce the amount the hydrangeas lean over. First, you should always water them from the bottom.
You should never spray water on the top of the hydrangeas because it can cause damage to the stems and cause them to weaken.
You can deadhead fading blooms to reduce some of the pressure. This will prevent the plant from becoming too heavy.
You can also cut some of the heavier flowers and display them in vases in your house, as this will reduce pressure on the bush and look great inside.
How to Prevent Hydrangeas From Flopping Over
There are several different things that you can do to stop your hydrangeas from flopping over. The first thing you should do is make sure that you space them out when you plant them.
If you have them too close together, the roots won’t have enough room, and the bush will be weaker as it grows.
The ideal distance is to space them three or four feet apart so that they can support each other as they grow.
1 – Prune Them Correctly
Pruning can be helpful when you want to help the stems get stronger. Generally speaking, hydrangeas don’t require much pruning, and the stems will be very thin and weak if you prune them too early or too frequently.
They won’t be able to support the weight of the flowers once they grow in, and the branches won’t be strong enough to support the stems. This is a problem because they can bend over and droop.
You will want to prune some of them, such as the Annabelle hydrangea, in the winter. For this type, the flowers bloom on the new wood, so you can encourage it to have stronger stems that will give it more support in the spring.
You should find out whether your type of hydrangea blooms on old wood or new wood, as the oakleaf and the big leaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood, so you don’t want to prune it all away.
2 – Use Fences
You can also use fences in your garden to help support your hydrangeas. They can help them stand up. One option is tomato cages, but this only works on the smaller bushes.
When they get larger, you might want to get some large wire cages, and you can get some flat panels of reinforcement wire to customize the support to the height of the plant.
3 – Use Ornamental Trellises
If you have hedges, you can use ornamental trellises to support your hydrangeas. You need to make sure that they are at least three feet tall and they should be fixed into the ground around the bushes so that they don’t harm the roots.
This type of support can add charm to your garden, and it is an attractive option.
4 – Get Some Garden Stakes
Another option is to use garden stakes to support the stems on your hydrangeas. This will help them hold up the larger blooms.
When you have larger blooms, they will need extra support because they can’t handle all of the weight. If you plan to help your hydrangeas grow more flowers, you will need to plan ahead and make sure that they have proper support.
You should add the stakes before your hydrangeas bloom so that they can help right from the beginning. This will help you enjoy your blooms when they happen.
5 – Bamboo Stakes
If you want to add some charm to your yard, you can use bamboo stakes in place of garden stakes. You should stake the hydrangea long before it produces flowers so that it is ready to hold them up as the flowers come.
Bamboo is natural, looks great in the yard, and can blend in with the scenery.
How to Prune Your Hydrangeas for Fullness
Once you choose a method to support the stems of your hydrangeas, you can prune them to help them grow fuller blooms.
When hydrangeas are young, it is easy to prune them. You just cut off the growing tips, and each time you will get twice as many in this place.
This leads to a full plant with more flowers, and it will look great when it fills out. If you have bought a hydrangeas that is more leggy and thin, you should cut it back to about a third of its size.
Then let it add some growth, and pinch it back again. The tips control the branching, so each time you pinch it, you will get two or three in its place.
Throughout the first growing season, you should repeat this process, and you will have a fuller bush in the future. The hydrangea will also be stronger and have more flowers in future years.
What Causes Hydrangeas to Droop?
Hydrangeas can droop for different reasons. One reason is that the stems are too weak to hold up the large flowers, but there are other reasons as well.
Sometimes hydrangeas do what is called flagging. This is when the plant deflates from the hot temperature.
You will notice that as soon as it cools off, the hydrangeas poof back up again. This isn’t something that you need to worry about.
People often are unaware of this and think that the hydrangeas need water, but this may not be the case. You should make sure that you check the soil before you decide to give it more water.
If you over-water your hydrangeas, the blooms will flop. The best way to determine whether you need to water your hydrangeas or not is with the knuckle test.
Poke your finger down two inches into the soil, and feel whether it is dry or moist. If it is moist, you don’t need to add water.
Another reason that hydrangeas droop is that they have too much sunlight. You may need to provide a temporary sunshade during the hot summer months.
Hydrangeas normally droop when they are dissatisfied with their conditions, so you need to pay attention to how you care for them. Make sure that you are giving them enough of what they need.
Choose Stronger Hydrangeas When You Buy Them
It will be a lot easier to encourage your hydrangea stems to be stronger if you choose stronger plants when you purchase them. Look for plants with stronger, thicker stems.
If you start out with a plant that is thin and weak, you will have to work hard to help it grow strong enough to hold its flowers. You may miss out on the bloom the first season as you take the time to prune it and encourage new, stronger stem growth.
Some hydrangeas can be pruned back to the base, but if you prune it incorrectly, you may end up with even weaker stems. You should try to allow a framework of at least 18 to 24 inches, which will offer stronger support when the spring comes.
If you have hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, you can only tidy them up. Pruning them could remove the wood where the following season’s blooms would occur, and you won’t have a bloom that season.
Pay attention to this, and deadhead blooms that are spent to reduce the weight the stems need to hold. This will help the stems stay healthy.
Protect Your Hydrangeas From Storms
Strong winds and storms can also cause your hydrangeas to droop, and they can weaken the stems. You should try to make sure that your plants are protected by placing them in a part of the yard where structures or larger trees can offer some protection.
If this is a constant problem, you might consider adding a larger plant or moving your hydrangeas. If you want to enjoy the beautiful bloom, you need to make sure that you protect it.
It can be frustrating to see your hydrangeas drooping or falling over from weak stems. If you have to remove the blooms, it defeats the purpose of having this amazing bush in your yard.
You can take steps to encourage your hydrangeas to grow healthier, stronger stems. First, make sure that your hydrangeas have everything they need to thrive.
Don’t over-water, and make sure that they don’t receive too much sunlight. You should also prune it to encourage fuller growth. Then you can add support structures early in the season so that they are there when you need 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.