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How to Grow Hydrangeas

The beautiful hydrangea flowers thrive in well-drained soils. Here’s a guide on how to grow hydrangeas and how to take care of them.

white hydrangea bush

Flowers add so much beauty and charm to a yard, no matter the size you have.

If you choose a perennial plant that flowers every year, it’s a very cost effective way to improve curb appeal, bring beauty to your home, and give you cut flowers to bring inside of your home.

It’s no surprise to you that my love runs deep for perennials such as roses, peonies, and hydrangeas.

I have written posts on how to buy roses and tips on planting bare root roses.

Plus, I have posts on how to care for peonies and a simple guide for growing peonies.

Be sure to check them out once you finish this post!

white hydrangea bush

When, where and how to plant and care for them

Not many flowers make a summer garden as vibrant and stunning as hydrangeas.

This hardy flower’s appeal does not seem to fade and it makes for an irreplaceable addition to any flower garden.

Hydrangeas are also good cut flowers that can thrive in almost any type of soil (irrespective of the pH).

white hydrangea bush

Types of hydrangeas

There are two main types of hydrangeas- Shrubs and climbers- but they come in different varieties and species.

You will find them in different color shades – blue, maroon, pink, red, or green.

The flowers also have different physical characteristics. Some have large flower heads while others have smaller and flatter flower heads.

Depending on the variety, hydrangeas can grow up to 15 feet tall.

Where to grow hydrangeas

The flower does well in many different climates and soil types.

They can thrive in both outdoors and indoors- in containers or on a flower bed.

Taking care of the flowers is not a tough task because they withstand harsh weather conditions. 

Hydrangeas grow better in well-drained soils. Soggy, waterlogged soils result in root rot.

You can add compost to enrich the soil if you think it is lacking vital nutrients. The fall and spring seasons are the best times to grow hydrangeas.

The flower loves sunshine in the morning and shade in the afternoon. By the time summer comes, the plant should have established a stable root system to help it withstand the heat – or the extreme winter cold.

Plant the flowers about 3-10 feet apart depending on the variety. Spacing is critical because some species of the hydrangeas flower grow tall and huge.

faux flowers laying on a diving room table

How to plant Hydrangeas

After removing the flower from its original container, check the roots to see if they are healthy. Nip away the rotting, withered, or diseased parts of the flower roots.

The planting hole size should match the size of the pot the flower came in.

You can add mulch or compost on top after planting. This increases the soil’s water retention capacity. Water well, but ensure there is no waterlogging.

Climbing hydrangeas should be trained on wires or prepared garden walls/fences. They will find a way to grow and cling to the fence/wall after developing roots.

hydrangeas ready for winter

Pruning hydrangeas

The best time to prune your hydrangea flowers is in mid-spring in preparation for the summer.

The idea is to get rid of dead flower parts and give space for new, plump flowers to grow. Cut the flower’s stem just above the forming buds when pruning.

If your plant is overgrown, you can cut off other parts of the stem as well -especially the dead ones. The climbing hydrangeas varieties should be pruned in the summer as soon as they flower.

Cut off the flowering buds to give way to new sets of shoots cropping up.

white hydrangeas

How to propagate hydrangea

There are two common ways of propagating hydrangea flowers; planting stem cuttings or rooting them into the ground from the parent crop.

Rooting the shrubs directly on the ground can work well if you are looking to fill gaps in your garden. It is not a complicated process.

You simply lay down stems of a live plant and cover with soil.

When roots form in the buried section, cut the stem off from the parent flower and let the new flower develop independently.

purple hydrangeas

How to propagate hydrangeas using cuttings

  • Select a healthy stem from the parent flower in early fall. If possible, ensure that this is a new-growth stem. There should be no flowers or new buds shooting from this stem. 
  • Find a node (where a new bud is likely to grow) and using a sharp pruning knife, make a quick, flawless cut just below this node. If possible, ensure that the knife is sterilized to prevent the transfer of germs from one flower to the other. 
  • Get rid of the leaves at the bottom of the node.
  • Place the stems in a prepared container. The container can have a soil mixture and depending on the size, one container can hold several stem cuttings.

If you are propagating the flower indoors, ensure that the container is in an open space to allow for the cuttings to breathe. Regulate the amount of water used. 

If you are doing it outside, cover using a plastic bag.

This creates a micro-environment that allows the cuttings to thrive and form roots. It will also control the amount of water and sunshine the stem cuttings will be exposed to.

Make several holes in the plastic bag to ensure the cuttings have enough air to breathe. 

  • Once the roots form, transplant the cuttings onto a garden and water them.
white hydrangeas in a garden

Common diseases and pests affecting hydrangeas

Weevils and aphids are the most common pests that feed on hydrangeas. Powdery mildew and brown leaf spot can also affect these flowers.

These pests and diseases can be controlled easily using fungicides and insecticides.

However, if you prefer to go the organic way, you can handpick these pests yourself and take measures to ensure that the kind of mulching you use is pest-free.

white hydrangea plant

Are hydrangeas toxic to human beings and animals?

Hydrangeas are poisonous to your pets and should not be ingested in any way.

When taken by human beings, they may experience vomiting and severe diarrhea. Always consult a doctor in case something like this happens. 

Hydrangeas contain cyanogenic glycoside (a component of cyanide) and this could be harmful to human beings and animals.

When taken by dogs and cats, the effects may not be fatal but they will be very uncomfortable. You should consult a veterinarian if this happens. 

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