Hydrangea is one of the most cultivated plants in the world.  In my search for all the information about the Hydrangea on the Internet, I even came across a real Hydrangea fan page on Facebook. I think everyone knows what a Hydrangea looks like, but there is much more to know about Hydrangeas!

Once you have purchased a Hydrangea you’re probably be looking for information on how to plant and care for your Hydrangea. If you already have one, you may want to move it. It’s also possible to take cuttings of Hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas come in many shades, from white, cream, light yellow, pink, red, lilac, purple to blue specimens. How do you get a Hydrangea with a blue color? That has to do with nutrition and location. I’m going to take you into the world of the Hydrangea.

The scientific name for a Hydrangea is Hydrangea. It is an evergreen or deciduous shrub , a climbing shrub or in a few cases a tree. The Hydrangea has a special inflorescence. It blooms in umbels; convex umbels, flat umbels or a plume-shaped dumbbell. There are many, many species of Hydrangeas.

A few varieties:

  • Hortensia Annabelle (arborescens),
  • klimhortensia (anomale of seemannii),
  • pluimhortensia (paniculata),
  • boomhortensia (aspera, villosa of heteromalla),
  • hortensia (serrata of involucrata),
  • eikenbladhortensia (quercifolia)
  • boerenhortensia (macrophylla)

In the article the 17 most beautiful Hydrangea varieties, I go into more detail about the varieties in these species.

Want to know more about the Hydrangea Annabelle? Read the article Hydrangea Annabelle, the most popular smooth hydrangea.

Planting Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are not difficult plants, if you know what they need. The name Hydrangea comes from Greek and means water vessel. That says something about the amount of moisture they need, especially when it’s warm. If the hydrangea has too little water, you will notice this immediately by the drooping leaves. A hydrangea is a plant for every garden, but be carefull with choosing a location.

When planting, first immerse the roots of the plant in a container of water for some time. Wait until the roots and the soil around them are saturated as much as possible with water. Meanwhile, dig a spacious planting hole. Make sure the top of the root ball is several inches below the regular soil height. Place the wet root ball in the dug hole and fill the soil around and on the root ball with potting soil. If necessary, you can add some dried cow manure. Then press the soil a little so that the plant stands firmly in it. Then give it plenty of water. Do this for the next few days as well, so the plant gets a good start.

When watering be sure to water the soil and roots. If you water the flowers during the day in bright sunlight, you have a chance of burning, This then causes unwanted brown flowers and brown leaves.

Hydrangea soil

A hydrangea grows basically on any soil. With soil with a high PH value, such as chalky clay soil, you have a bigger chance of yellow leaves. If you have a soil with a high PH value, mix it with garden soil with peat moss or acidic potting soil when planting.

With a PH value of 5 or less, you have such an acidic soil that a hydrangea can start to flower blue. This applies to the Hydrangea Macrophylla and some species of the Hydrangea Serrata. If you want to give this blue color a try, add alum or aluminum sulfate to an acid soil. A PH value of 5.6 to 6.5 means that the soil is PH neutral. The hydrangea will then have its normal own color.

With more lime, a higher PH value than 6.5, the color of some hydrangeas becomes pink.  This way you can play with the color of your hydrangeas. However, a light pink hydrangea will not turn dark blue, but light blue.

If you live in a region with calcareous water, it is recommended to give the hydrangeas rainwater. Unless you like pink hydrangeas of course 😊. (PS this only applies to a few species).

Hydrangea location

Does hydrangea like the full sun?

A Hydrangea likes a light position, but does not like to be in full sun all day. A spot in the semi-shade is perfect.

However, there are exceptions. The smooth hydrangea of the Macrophylla variety and the Aspera and Villosa really don’t like full sun. Put these in a bright spot in the shade or semi-shade, at least in a spot with as little sun as possible.

The most ideal place is on the north or east side of a sheltered hedge or tree or taller shrubs. Make sure that the soil is not too dry, when you put hydrangeas under a tree, keep an eye on the tree to make sure it doesn’t drink all the moisture for the hydrangeas. You will see this soon enough by the drooping leaves of the hydrangea. If this happens, intervene immediately, otherwise the plant will not survive.

When to plant hydrangea

Planting hydrangea can be done year-round, with the exception of frost periods. The warmer and drier it is at planting time, the more water you will need to give the plant to take root. A tip for a place with dry soil: If you plant some ground covers around the hydrangea, they will retain some moisture in the soil.

If you plant your hydrangea in the fall, you don’t need to give the plant extra fertilizer. In winter, the plant goes dormant and therefore does not need the fertilizer.

How to move hydrangea plants

Moving a hydrangea is governed by virtually the same rules as planting. A hydrangea from a pot is excellent for planting in the garden. If the space for your hydrangea has become too small and you want to move it, you can trim the roots here and there to get a nice compact root system. As a result, the plant will grow a little slower than before.

When digging out the hydrangea, do take great care to dig out the roots completely. You need to dig a spacious hole around the plant to avoid damaging the roots. The new planting hole should be just as spacious, to give the roots room. Then add garden soil or potting soil to give the plant some extra energy to take hold.

Hydrangea cuttings

A hydrangea is one of the easiest plants to take cuttings from. I will explain in a few steps how to cut a Hydrangea:

  • Step 1: You cut a branch of the hydrangea under a knot. A knot is a point on the branch to which 2 leaves are attached.
  • Step 2: Then you cut off those 2 leaves. If the top is a bit limp, you can also cut that off. You are then actually left with a stem with 2 leaves.
  • Step 3: Because the leaves evaporate a lot of water, you also need to shorten the 2 leaves. Cut them off about 1/2 way.
  • Step 4: Then you are going to make a cutting mixture, to plant the cutting in. This consists of half potting soil and half fine gravel. You add this gravel for proper drainage to prevent the cuttings from rotting.
  • Step 5: Put the mixture in a pot, which has some hydro grains or shards at the bottom. You don’t need to pound this very hard.
  • Step 6: Make a hole with a stick, and plant the cutting. You do this to avoid damage to the cutting, as it is not sturdy enough by itself.
  • Step 7: By placing the pot in the water, the pot and the cutting will soak up the water and damage as little as possible. Let this soak for about fifteen minutes.
  • Step 8: Next, put a plastic bag over it, so that you create a kind of mini greenhouse. This should sit around it for 7 to 10 days.
  • Step 9: When the cuttings continue to stand up straight, cut a small piece from the corner of the plastic bag. If they still remain upright after a few days, cut a slightly larger piece from the corner of the plastic bag. Do this three times. If they are still standing, then your cutting has succeeded.
  • Step 10: You can pot the cutting so it can grow into a beautiful new plant.

Hydrangea care

Hydrangea care

As mentioned earlier in this article, a Hydrangea needs a lot of water, especially the younger plants. During the months of May through August, September, depending on the weather, give the plant extra water. It is best to do this in the morning or in the evening, when the sun is least bright. Try to avoid the leaves and flowers, and pour the water directly on the soil. Drip irrigation is a good way to water the Hydrangea. This gives the plant water gradually and throughout the day.

If you want a nice green leaf and a nice strong flower, the plant will need nutrition in addition to water. Do not give the hydrangea too much nutrition, the plant will grow faster and as a result it becomes  less sturdy and because of the top-heavy flowers there is a greater chance that the branch will break.

Is your hydrangea sick? Read the article on Hydrangea Diseases and Pests for the most common problems, and how to fix them.

Fertilize hydrangea

For Hydrangeas, there is special fertilizer available in the garden center. The choice is between a long-acting fertilizer that you apply at the beginning of the year, April, that will provide the plant with nutrients throughout the summer. On the packaging you can check the amount of fertilization needed. You can also buy a short-acting fertilizer. This will give you a result in a shorter period of time. This is a good choice if you want to give the plant an energy boost. You will have to administer this several times during the flowering period.

Then there is the option of giving organic manure. You do this at the end of winter. You can mix dried cow manure and possibly some peat moss through the soil to lower the acidity.

In all cases, stop applying fertilizer from August. The plant can then harden and enter the winter firmly.

Hydrangea food

Special hydrangea manure enriches the soil with extra magnesium and iron in addition to nutrition. When your plants are not looking great, they will welcome these nutrients. If you like the blue Hydrangea in your garden, be careful when fertilizing. Too much fertilizer can cause it to lose the color.

Hydrangea bloom

There are more than 500 varieties of cultivated forms of the Hydrangea. Hydrangeas can be classified on many different characteristics. Also in inflorescence. There are Hydrangeas that flower on newly formed branches (new wood), Hydrangeas that flower on old branches (old wood) and Hydrangeas that flower on both new and old wood.

Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood will have flowers on the branches that are formed in the spring. They bloom early in the season, shortly after winter on the new shoots. So if you start pruning these in May or June, you will be pruning away the branches on which the flowers will come and you will not get any blooms. Well known examples of these hydrangeas that bloom on the new wood are the Annabelle, also called snowballs in the vernacular and the Paniculata species.

The group of Hydrangeas that bloom on the old wood should not be pruned after the winter or in the spring. These bloom on the wood that was already formed before winter. It is best not to prune them at all even in the fall and winter. These hydrangeas include the Macrophylla species or farm hydrangeas, the oakleaf hydrangeas, the umbelliferous Serrata species and the climbing hydrangeas.

The group that blooms on both new and old wood are understandably less difficult when it comes to pruning. Here we are talking about a limited group of Macrophylla hydrangeas.

The flowering period varies in length, generally blooming from mid-June, some even continuing to bloom late into the fall.

pruning hydrangea

Hydrangea pruning

Pruning the Hydrangea is therefore related to its flowering time. In the article Prune Hydrangeas I explain in more detail what to consider and how to prune a hydrangea.

In short, prune the species that bloom on the new wood at the end of winter. And the species that bloom on the old wood are best pruned while they are still in bloom.

For those species that bloom on both old and new wood, you can prune at the end of winter. The more rigorously you prune the plant the harder it grows. So if you want to be left with a compact sturdy plant, prune lightly.

How to dry hydrangea flowers

how to dry hydrangea flowers

Besides the Hydrangeas for outdoors, it is also possible to keep Hydrangeas as houseplants. It is best to choose the smaller varieties, which can stand well in a pot in your living room. If you want to bring hydrangea flowers from outside into your home, you can do this by drying them.

It is best to prune the flowers on a sunny day. You can hang the stems you cut in a dry warm place. If you want to put them in the vase immediately, put a small layer of water at the bottom. You don’t need to refill this anymore. You can also put them in a moist oasis block. To keep the color well, it is best to dry the flower in the dark.

Another tip I read is to add glycerin to the small amount of water the stem is in. The goal is to get the moisture out of the stem and the flower, with as little damage to the flower as possible. You can then enjoy your dried flower for years to come.

Alternatives and other tips for drying flowers are:

  • Place flowers with stem, without leaves in a container with shell sand
  • Place the flowers with stem, without leaves in a container with washing powder. (Smells nice and fresh, though)
  • Pick the flowers from the plant, when they already feel somewhat leathery and the flowers are nicely discolored
  • The most suitable species for drying is the bulbous hydrangea, the Hydrangea Macrophylla