Taking Care of Hydrangeas

Beautiful blue hydrangea ready to bloom.

Most hydrangeas are of the big leaf variety, H. Macrophylla. The picture above features the Mophead Hydrangea with big snowball type blooms.

I always have had great luck with hydrangea bushes partly because my property is on a high water table and my hydrangeas do not need much fussing. After a good pruning in late fall or early spring I take the following steps to ensure a beautiful harvest all summer long.

1. H2O. Yes hydrangeas need lots of water. If they are not producing blossoms its just might be a water problem.

2. Fertilizing. If your soil is rich you may not need to feed your hydrangeas, you will know this if your blooms are many. If you do feed your hydrangeas only do it once a year in late winter or early spring. Too much fertilizer will cause more leaf growth and less blooms.

3. Color. The color of your hydrangea blooms indicate the pH acidity levels in your soil.In strongly acid soil (pH below 6), flowers turn blue. In alkaline soil (pH above 7), flowers turn pink or even red. In slightly acid or neutral soil (pH 6 to 7), blooms may be purple or a mix of blue and pink on a single shrub. To make soil more acid, sprinkle ½ cup garden sulfur over the soil beneath the hydrangea, and water it in. To make it more alkaline, do the same with ground lime.

4. Cutting. The problem with cutting when the blooms are looking gorgeous mid summer is wilting. I did read once that if you dip the freshly cut bottoms in to water that has been boiled and cooled for 2 minutes for 30 seconds and then transfer to a cold water vase this could do the trick. I have had good luck with cutting blooms for a party or a summer weekend. Our summer house in Rhode Island has amazing blue hydrangeas, I'll save that for another post!

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