There’s so much more to hydrangeas than meets the eye. And to help you grow show-stopping specimens, we’ve pulled together this selection of practical hydrangea-growing tips from our favourite bloggers, Instagrammers and YouTubers.
Whether you’re looking for scent, shade-tolerance, climbing plants, container varieties or magnificent colour-changing blooms, this diverse genus of garden shrubs has something for everyone. Browse our award-winning hydrangea shrubs now for inspiration.
Award-winning hydrangeas like ‘Miss Saori’ are real show-stoppers
Taking centre stage in Michael Perry’s shortlist of top hydrangeas is Chelsea favourite, ‘Miss Saori’. With such gorgeous, two-toned, rose-like double flowers, it’s no surprise that it won ‘Plant of the Year’ in 2014. Writing for the Thompson & Morgan blog, Michael’s shortlist of heavenly hydrangeas is a perfect place to look for variety inspiration. Expect chocolate-coloured leaves, low spreading habits and plenty of flower power!
Alkaline soil makes hydrangea flowers pink
Hydrangea macrophylla flowers can undergo a fantastical colour change! It’s not magic, explains Sue Sanderson at the Thompson & Morgan blog, but a response to the pH of the soil. The flowers of both mophead and lacecap hydrangeas oscillate between pink and blue, so it’s important to test your soil if you’re keen to have one particular colour. Find out how to change your soil’s pH in Sue’s helpful hydrangea growing article.
Acid soil produces blue hydrangea flowers
“I just love the colour range,” says Instagrammer Hannah at @talesfromagarden. Starting out with one large shrub, she now has a varied collection of nine special hydrangeas in every shade of pink, white and blue. “Blue is my favourite,” she admits, but she needs to grow these in containers of ericaceous soil or raised beds because her alkaline garden turns the flowers pink. Check out her Insta post to see the full range of incredible colours she’s managed to grow.
Use hydrangeas to brighten up a dark spot
The heads of this hydrangea ‘Incrediball’ are “as big as footballs”, enthuses Peter over at @peteplants. Lighting up an area of tricky dry shade under a cherry tree in his flower-filled Scottish garden, his shade-tolerant hydrangea is clearly happy and healthy. His top tip? Make sure you water regularly for the best results.
The climbing hydrangea petiolaris thrives on a north-facing wall
Have you got a tricky north-facing wall? Transform it with a climbing Hydrangea petiolaris. It’s one of the few plants that thrive in full shade, says Dawn over at @dawns_gardening. Beautiful in the summer months, she also loves her climbing hydrangea in the winter when the blooms become delicately skeletal. See inspirational images of her hydrangeas over at her flower-filled Insta page.
Leave spent hydrangea blooms on the plant in winter to protect buds from frost
Over at @chebbscooper, Instagrammer Cheryl sometimes cuts and dries a few hydrangea flower heads in autumn. However, this year she says, “the plants are going to keep their mops for a bit of frost protection,” because she’s leaving the spent flowers in place over winter to protect emerging flower buds. Keep up with her gorgeous Yorkshire garden and homegrown bouquets at her inspirational Insta page.
Different hydrangea varieties are pruned at different times
“Hydrangeas require only minimal pruning,” says Carol Bartlett at The Sunday Gardener. But in order to work out how and when to cut them back, “you need to decide which type of hydrangea you have,” she explains. Some varieties grow on new wood and some on old, so make sure you check before getting the secateurs out! Read Carol’s full article for practical hydrangea pruning tips.
Always prune your hydrangea macrophylla in spring
Don’t be tempted to prune your macrophylla hydrangea in autumn, says Paul over at his YouTube channel Paul T’s World. Wait until spring, when you can focus on cleanly removing dead branches and deadheading down to two healthy buds. Learn exactly how to do it by watching Paul’s helpful video and, if you take your time, he says the process is actually quite therapeutic!
New hydrangea varieties thrive in containers
If you’re looking for the best floriferous, eye-catching hydrangea for a small garden, try Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’, suggests John at Pyracantha. This Chelsea ‘Plant of the Year’ is perfect for growing in a container. A top tip from John – choose a tall pot to accommodate its deep roots and to enjoy the full cascading effect from the gorgeous froth of white flowers.
Water potted hydrangeas regularly
All hydrangeas love water, so it’s especially important to keep an eye on soil hydration when you’re growing in pots, says Dan at YouTube channel Home Gardens. To keep his newly repotted hydrangea moist, but not waterlogged, Dan makes a special soil mix that includes nutritious vegetable-growing compost, normal garden soil, multi-purpose compost and drainage stones. Dan’s quick tip for pinker flowers? Add alkaline wood ash to your potting mix!
Move potted hydrangeas to a sheltered spot in winter
Ray at YouTube channel Gardening for Beginners takes special care to keep his container hydrangeas away from frost over winter. “Compost freezes a lot easier in containers so it’s best to protect the roots,” he says. This means moving his plants into the garage, after adding a layer of fresh mulch to the soil surface. He’s chuffed to bits with his new free hydrangea. Definitely one worth saving!
Transplant mature hydrangeas to a new location while dormant
Have you inherited a garden with a mature hydrangea? If it’s taking up too much space or blocking a view, don’t hesitate to move it to a new position, says YouTuber Mark at Mark’s Garden UK. Simply wait for the plant to become dormant in winter, give it a really severe prune, then dig it up. With careful management your stately shrub will bloom again in its brand new spot.
Try propagating hydrangeas using cuttings
Got a pile of healthy stems left over from a spring prune? Try to propagate some brand new hydrangea plants from the cuttings, like YouTuber Ian from DIY Home and Gardening. There’s no guarantee of success, but it’s a fun way to try to get a few free plants from your favourite varieties. Watch Ian’s video to see if his hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ cutting takes root!
After even more hydrangea wisdom? You’ll find a wealth of practical hydrangea-growing information and advice at our dedicated hub page. Stay up to date with all of our newest and most exciting products by following us on Instagram or Twitter.
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