Hydrangeas: Expert Tips For Planting, Caring For And Cutting

Here you can find out everything you need to know about caring for and cutting hydrangeas in pots and beds. We also show our expert tips on choosing a variety.

The genus of hydrangeas ( Hydrangea ) includes over 70 different species, most of which originally come from East Asian areas. All species are woody plants that can grow in different ways – for example as a shrub or climb lofty heights. Here you can find out everything about hydrangeas.

The flowers of the hydrangea are usually arranged in panicles or umbel-like inflorescences. The apparent, larger flowers, which make up the actual ornamental value, are merely so-called pseudo-flowers. The real flowers, which contribute to seed development, are hidden inside the inflorescences and are not visible at first glance. In the following, we want to take a closer look at the hydrangea and introduce you to everything important, from choosing the variety to planting and caring for the hydrangea.

Hydrangea species and varieties

All relevant species are deciduous shrubs, which means that they are leafy in summer and shed their leaves in winter. The star among the hydrangeas is the species Hydrangea macrophylla, which originally comes from Japan – also better known as the farmer’s hydrangea. Their characteristic inflorescences are either spherical, but can also be flat like a plate and less heavily peppered with the large ornamental flowers. In addition to the farm hydrangea, the panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ) and the snowball hydrangea ( Hydrangea arborescens ) are very popular. If you want to rely not only on beautiful flowers but also on special foliage, the oak leaf hydrangeas ( Hydrangea quercifolia ) are the right choice. In addition to the so-called velvet hydrangea ( Hydrangea sargentiana ), whose name comes from its soft leaves, there are also climbing hydrangeas ( Hydrangea petiolaris ) and Japanese tea hydrangeas ( Hydrangea Serrata ).

Hydrangeas: expert tips for planting, caring for & cutting

Plant hydrangeas

In the following, you will find out which location and which soil conditions the hydrangea needs. We also show the differences between planting hydrangeas in pots and beds.

Plant hydrangeas in the bed

As far as the soil in which the hydrangea is to put its roots is concerned, it has to meet the somewhat special requirements. If the pH value is between 4 and 5, it is optimal. If the hydrangeas are to shine in a strong blue or purple, the pH value of the soil can generally be slightly lower than for pink, red or white hydrangea varieties. If the pH value is a little more alkaline, this does not have any life-threatening effects on the growth of the hydrangea, but it can lead to deficiency symptoms or the desired color development. In addition to the correct pH value, hydrangeas also need an adequate water supply, otherwise, drought damage can quickly occur. It is therefore advantageous to choose a location where the soil has good water storage capabilities. However, the subsoil must not be prone to waterlogging, as this could quickly lead to root rot and the hydrangea to die.

Hydrangeas: expert tips for planting, caring for & cutting

Once the right location has been found, you should first think through the next steps. In the case of soils with a too high pH value, it may be advisable to dig a slightly larger hole. There is space for some substrate with a suitable pH value, such as rhododendron soil. Before and after planting, the hydrangea should be well watered. The soil around the planting can be loosened up to make it easier for the hydrangea to take root. Under no circumstances should the loosened soil around the hydrangea be compacted with energetic kicks to help it hold in the ground.

Plant hydrangeas in a pot

About the location requirements, it makes no difference whether the hydrangea is planted in a container or a bed. Especially in the pot, she is happy when her wish for a partially shaded location can be fulfilled. Because when cultivating in a pot, the hydrangea has to be watered more often than is the case in the bed. Therefore, the planter should not be selected too small. Here, too, it is advisable to use rhododendron soil for planting. For an optimal water supply right from the start, the hydrangea can be immersed in a bucket filled with water before planting. The plant is kept completely underwater until no more air bubbles rise. After planting, you should water the hydrangea well again so that the loosened substrate settles and the roots have access to water and nutrients.

You can find more detailed information on planting hydrangeas in our special article.

Hydrangeas: expert tips for planting, caring for & cutting

Hydrangeas on the balcony

If you have planted your hydrangea in a pot, you can also place the decorative plant on the balcony. Since hydrangeas prefer shady locations, an east, west, or north balcony is the right choice. If you want to keep your hydrangea on a south-facing balcony, you should shade it in the midday sun and ensure there is an adequate water supply.

Maintain hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are reliably blooming classics in the garden – but only with the right care. From watering and fertilizing to cutting, you will learn everything about the correct handling of beautiful hydrangeas. You can also find general tips for the correct care of hydrangeas here in our special article.

Water hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are thirsty and need regular watering. Especially in hot summer temperatures, hydrangeas in the pot may have to be watered several times a day. Hydrangeas that are planted in the bed can also groan from lack of water and should be watered regularly to avoid undesirable drought damage such as dried-up leaves and flowers. You can find more detailed information on watering hydrangeas in our special article.

Hydrangeas: expert tips for planting, caring for & cutting

Hydrangeas are happy about enough rainwater from the watering can

Fertilize hydrangeas

Any type of hydrangea can develop into a healthy and vigorously blooming beauty with the right fertilization. In addition, the foundation for the flower color of the popular farmer’s hydrangeas ( Hydrangea macrophylla) is laid. This is mainly influenced by the soil pH and, to a lesser extent, by fertilization.

Organic slow-release fertilizer should already be incorporated when planting the hydrangea. The slowly released nutrients and the activation of soil life are a good basis for establishing new plantings at the new location. By the way, hydrangeas are planted either in spring (March-May) or autumn (October – November). Established hydrangeas are fertilized once a year outdoors, and twice a year in pots because of the smaller substrate volume. Our Gardender organic hydrangea fertilizer is such an organic long-term fertilizer. It is based on animal-free raw materials from the food, luxury, and feed industries as well as mineral components that are also used in organic farming and optimally supply your hydrangea with all the important nutrients.

For more information on how to fertilize hydrangeas and for detailed instructions, see this article on the subject.

Cut hydrangeas

The right cut is essential for beautiful flowers. Hydrangeas can be cut either in the fall or in the spring. To determine the right time, one should first know which type of hydrangea it is. Because farm hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla ) and oak leaf hydrangeas ( Hydrangea quercifolia ) develop their flower systems for the next year in autumn.

So they bloom on last year’s wood. If you cut back too much here, this can mean the loss of the beautiful flower. Panicle ( Hydrangea paniculata ) or snowball hydrangeas ( Hydrangea arborescens ), on the other hand, bloom on so-called annual wood – that is, they form their flowers in the same year in which they bloom. These two popular hydrangeas are among the species that can be pruned back undisturbed.

Hydrangeas: expert tips for planting, caring for & cutting

Hibernate hydrangeas

As a rule, you can rely on the fact that all hydrangea species offered in the USA are reasonably hardy. In this case, to some extent means that frost damage is unfortunately quite possible and can also affect the flowering. To avoid this, you should note the following:

  • A protected place in partial shade should be chosen when planting.
  • Winter protection made of leaves, a jute sack, fir branches, or mulch protects the plant. Above all, always cover the outer shoots close to the ground.
  • Fertilization with mineral nitrogen is taboo from mid-July. Organic fertilizers can be used well into August.
  • The fertilizer used should have a sufficiently high potassium content, as this is essential for frost resistance.
  • Even if the temperatures rise, you should not completely remove the winter protection until the ice saints (11th to 15th May) have passed. Have the burlap sack ready for frosty nights. Of course, exposing the plant in the first warm weeks is possible and important.
  • Hydrangeas in pots are protected in the same way as their relatives outdoors. In addition, they should spend the winter in protected garden areas. Containers with a diameter of fewer than 35 centimeters are better to overwinter frost-free (3 – 5 ° C) in a shed or garage.

Hydrangeas: expert tips for planting, caring for & cutting

Propagate hydrangeas

For the vegetative propagation of hydrangea (Hydrangea) is already required access to a hydrangea plant that you want to multiply. Accordingly, through vegetative propagation, clones of the beloved hydrangea from your own garden are created. In principle, hydrangeas can either be propagated by dividing them, using sinkers or cuttings.

Pests and diseases on hydrangeas

With good care, hydrangeas are usually not particularly susceptible to disease and pests. If your hydrangea is nevertheless affected, we would like to introduce you to what you can do about yellow leaves and mealybugs on hydrangeas.

If the leaves of your hydrangea turn yellow, the cause may be an iron deficiency, also known as chlorosis. Such chlorosis is particularly common in hydrangeas. The reason for this is usually a lack of nutrients. The missing nutrient in hydrangeas is almost exclusively iron, although there is almost always enough of it in the natural soil. The reason for the deficiency is not the lack of iron in the soil, but that the hydrangea cannot absorb the iron present. You can find out how such an iron deficiency can be remedied here.

Mealybugs ( Pseudococcidae ) are also often called mealybugs and particularly like to sit on our hydrangeas. They are very easy to spot because they are surrounded by a white web that resembles tiny white hairs or fluff. The mealybugs attach themselves to the plants and then ingest the sap, where they can transmit harmful viruses to the plants. As a result of the sucking process, the infected leaves turn yellow and eventually fall off. If the infestation with mealybugs is very strong, the hydrangeas can even die. You can find out how to control mealybugs on hydrangeas here.

Hydrangea flowering period: what to do if the hydrangea does not bloom

If the romantic flowers in the garden fail to appear, this can have various causes. Usually, the problem lies in the maintenance or the location and can be remedied with little effort. If your hydrangea does not bloom, it is worth checking its location and nutrient intake first. For beautiful flowers, a low pH value and an adequate supply of nutrients, with an emphasis on nitrogen, potassium, and trace elements, are particularly important. Fertilizers specially tailored to hydrangeas provide the best care for the plants. An inadequate or excessive water supply can also be responsible for the inhibition of bloom.

Other reasons for the failure to bloom can lie in various care measures, such as incorrect pruning, or inadequate frost protection. Most hydrangeas plant their new buds in autumn and should therefore only be freed from deadwood and old inflorescences during this period. When it comes to frost, the late frost in spring is particularly dangerous for the flowers. During this time, the bracts open, and the flower is inevitably exposed to frost. It is therefore advisable to cover the plants with fleece at low temperatures. If the pruning is incorrect or has been damaged by frost, the flowers can usually not be saved and you will have to wait another year to admire the beautiful flowers. You can find more detailed tips on hydrangea blossoms here.

Drying hydrangeas

The impressive flowers of the hydrangea can be preserved and thus serve as a great decorative element. When dry, the decorative flowers can become permanent companions in the home – even in months outside the hydrangea season. The flowers must be harvested in full splendor and before the onset of wilting. Make sure that the shoot from which you are harvesting the flower is unlikely to have any flower in the following year. The deeper you cut the shoot, the less likely it will bloom in the next year.

You will find three different tips on how to dry hydrangea flowers in this special article.

Hydrangeas: expert tips for planting, caring for & cutting

Are hydrangeas friendly to bees?

As mentioned, the actual flowers of the hydrangea are in the middle of the beautiful pseudo-flowers. In principle, these have a rather moderate supply of pollen and nectar. Unfortunately, the numerous hybrid forms and varieties of the hydrangea are often rebred, sexless forms that are completely uninteresting for pollinators. This is because breeding focuses on the ornamental leaves and not the nourishing flowers.

We at Gardender recommend the following products for hydrangeas:

  • Floragard Endless Summer hydrangea soil pink & white: Special soil for healthy and strong hydrangeas. The clay granules improve air and water circulation.
  • Floragard Endless Summer hydrangea soil blue: Special soil for healthy and strong hydrangeas. The strong, bright blue bloom is preserved in the long term by using aluminum fertilizers. The clay granules improve air and water circulation.
  • Floragard compost soil: Special soil made from high-quality weed-free compost and selected peat qualities. It provides your plants with all the important nutrients over a long period and the high humus content makes light and heavy soils fertile.

Is the hydrangea poisonous?

Hydrangeas contain various substances which, if consumed in excess or if you are allergic to contact, can lead to discomfort. These include glycoside hydrangea, saponins, iso-coumarin hydrangea, and hydrogen cyanide. However, with appropriate precautions, hydrangeas can still be planted in the garden without any problems. It is important to always keep a watchful eye on children and to inform them that the colorful flowers are a beautiful decoration, but not edible. Since hydrangeas are also poisonous to animals, an inaccessible location or fence can also be a good precautionary measure.

Nevertheless, the same applies to the hydrangea: The poison is in the dose. Serious poisoning usually occurs only when large quantities are consumed. However, since the flowers and leaves, which show the greatest concentration of toxins, taste very bitter, large amounts are usually not consumed. It is different with people or animals that are sensitive or allergic to hydrangeas.

In the case of a contact allergy, the immune system reacts excessively and the affected skin area begins to itch or burn, for example. Typical symptoms of excessive consumption of hydrangeas are dizziness, anxiety, shortness of breath, cramps, or circulatory problems. If these symptoms occur, an emergency doctor should definitely be called, but as a precaution, it is advisable to consult a doctor even if the symptoms are mild.

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