Hydrangeas are surely a feast for the eyes. They are simply captivating. And what is best – they are easy to care of. Read our post to learn more about different types of hydrangeas and learn basic principles of hydrangea care.
What are Hydrangeas?
The most striking feature of a hydrangea and the reason why it’s so popular in ornamental gardens are large flower heads colored in white, pink, red, blue or purple. The genus of hydrangea has about 75 species blooming with beautiful ball-like clusters of flowers which will enhance your garden from June to late October.
These flower heads consist of two types of flowers. Non-showy, fertile flowers are hidden inside the head and they are surrounded by large, beautiful flowers with four non-fertile petals.
The native hydrangea habitats are East Asia and dense forest areas of North and South America.
The biodiversity is enormous in hydrangeas. They come in large variety of growth forms and flower colors, as well as the shape of the flowers, which make the differences between the individual species. The most spread cultivar is Bigleaf hydrangea (French hydrangea) known by the Latin name Hydrangea macrophylla. This woody shrub has more than 600, selected to bear only sterile, large flowers which look attractive and impressive. It can grow in height up to 6.56 ft or 2 m.
How to Hydrate Hydrangeas Properly?
Once hydrangeas are dried out, it is over with their beauty, so the most important thing in hydrangea care is irrigation.
This shrub just loves water. Particularly in dry and very hot areas, the soil must be kept constantly moist, so you can water it twice a day – both in the morning and in the evening.
The water for hydrangeas should not be calcareous, so it’s best to use rain water.
How to Turn Hydrangeas from Pink to Blue?
There is something really special and fascinating with hydrangeas: you can change the flower color in the desired way by changing the acidity of the soil. Remember, white varieties stay white and you can’t change the colors of their flowers.
If your hydrangea has pink flowers, the soil pH is about 6.0 to 6.2. This type of soil is the soil without aluminum and the deficiency of aluminum makes the flowers pink. So, if you want a hydrangea with blue flowers, the soil must have aluminum in it and must have the low pH level (5.2-5.5). Add aluminum sulfate to the soil (buy a proper fertilizer at a nursery), or add an organic matter such as pine needles, fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings etc.
But if your hydrangea has blue flowers, that means the soil is alkaline, and if you want pink flowers, you have to raise the acidity in order to retain pink flowers. You can do that with a fertilizer with high the level of phosphorus.
Anyway, it takes a lot of effort to change the color of hydrangeas which are planted in the ground. It’s much easier to do that if the hydrangea is planted in a container or a pot. They are easily grown in pots.
Best types of Hydrangeas for Sun
If you’re confused about hydrangea’s sun requirements just follow two basic rules.
First, give your hydrangea a plenty of morning sun and protect it from the afternoon heat. This rule works for all types of hydrangea.
Second, the perfect position for a hydrangea and its sun requirement depends on your climate zone. The further south you live, the sun is more intense and hydrangeas should be protected from full sun and afternoon heat. The further north you live, the more tolerant plants are to the intense sun.
Anyway, if you want to add an interest to an exposed site with a lovely hydrangea, no worries, Hydrangea paniculata or panicle hydrangea is a perfect choice!
It prefers spots with a lot of sun and handles afternoon heats pretty well. This is an extremely tolerant type of hydrangea – it easily withstands hot sun, low temperatures, and even drought. Anyway, it will look best if watered regularly, so don’t test its hardiness if you don’t need to.
Some great Paniculata cultivars to grow in full sun are ‘Pinky Winky Hydrangea’, ‘ Limelight Hydrangea’, ‘ Quick Fire Hydrangea’, ‘ Little Lime hydrangea’, ‘Grandiflora’, ‘Rehny’ etc.
Best Types of Hydrangeas for Shade
If you live in areas where summers are extremely hot and dry, hydrangea should be planted in shade.
For example, the climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris.) will do best in shade. It’s usually trained to climb trees and walls and those are mainly shady position sheltered from the sun.
Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) can thrive both in full sun and partial shade, but the flowers will last longer if the plant is protected from hot, afternoon sun.
‘Annabelle’ and ‘White Dome’ are varieties of Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) which are suitable for shade or partial shade.
Mophead-type hydrangeas (variety of Hydrangea macrophylla) ‘Big Daddy’, ‘Buttons ‘n’ Bow’, ‘Cityline Venice’, ‘Forever Pink’, ‘Lemon’, ‘Nikko Blue‘ do best in shade, or Lacecap hydrangeas (also Macrophylla) – ‘Lady in Red’, ‘Bits of Lace’, ‘Lanarth white’, ‘Lemon wave’ etc.
How to Properly Prune Hydrangeas
If hydrangeas grow too big, they become leggy and unattractive. So, if you want a tidy, attractive and well-shaped hydrangea, prune it regularly to rejuvenate and shape the plant and encourage more flowers.
One of the most common mistakes related to the pruning of hydrangea is pruning at the wrong time of year. When you prune it at the wrong season, you’re risking to have significantly fewer flowers in the spring.
There are two types of hydrangeas – those who bloom on old stems such as Bigleaf, Mopleaf or Lacecap hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla and Hydrangea serrata) and Oakleaf hydrangeas (H. quercifolia) and they should be pruned as blossoms begin to fade and before new buds occur, but only in summer and not in the fall!
Other types of hydrangea which produce buds on new stems (Panicle hydrangeas, Smooth hydrangeas) should be pruned in late winter or early spring before they start producing buds.