HOW TO PRUNE AND CARE FOR HAPPY, HEALTHY HYDRANGEAS
One of my absolute favourite types of indoor and outdoor plants are hydrangeas. They can be so hard to grow in this part of the world (Alberta, Canada) but I have found some tips that seem to make caring for hydrangeas easier. I also love to buy these beautiful hydrangeas for Spring decor in the house, then I plant them in the garden outside. They do come back year after year when they are cared for correctly! So follow these simple tips for caring and pruning hydrangeas indoors and out. I have also included the best variety's for our climate and zone below.
Watering Tips for Hydrangeas
One the most important Hydrangea Care tips is to make sure to keep the soil moist at all times. The easiest way to do this is to place a tray at the base of the plant and water once daily. For outdoors and indoor potted hydrangeas, do not let the soil get too dry or over saturated. I find that watering them at the same time each day allows the hydrangea plant to stay happy.
FERTILIZER TIPS FOR HYDRANGEAS
Fertilize your indoor potted Hydrangeas every two weeks with an all purpose fertilizer. If you plant your hydrangea outside, use fertilizer until about the month of August when the growing season begins to slow. After that, wait until the following spring to fertilize. For outdoor bigger hydrangea plants use a fertilizer higher in phosphorus (thats the second number you see when you are reading fertilizer packages. Ex. 10-25-10) as this encourages bigger hydrangea blooms. You can check out this article on fertilizers for more details.
TRIMMING, Cutting and
I have found that it best to prune off additional shoots so that only three bigger stems remain. This will ensure the growth of larger blooms. Early in the season, trim back long shoots by several inches to prevent your plant from becoming spindly and untidy. By the middle of the growing season, refrain from trimming the hydrangea plant any further.
Winter care tips and Pruning Hydrangeas
When caring for hydrangeas during the winter months, try to insure that the plant is winterized. I place mulch around the hydrangea. Mulch helps insulate soil and prevents frost heave, a condition that occurs when soil repeatedly freezes and thaws. A second important tip is to make sure you keep the hydrangea plant well watered up until the day it freezes, this provides the roots with protection.
This antique grape pickers trug is from 20th Century France and can be purchased from the Shop.
Alberta, CANADA Hardy Hydrangeas
Although in the past hydrangeas have been difficult to grow in our zone 3 (where Deb lives) and zone 2B (where Britt lives) climate here in central Alberta, a few options have now been created that we have been successful with growing!
The Annabelle and Limelight Hydrangea varieties we have found to be the most successful with, but the Limelight Hydrangea is probably our favourite! It creates big blooms that you can harvest in the fall and if you dry them correctly can last for a few months.
Limelight Hydrangea Tips
1. We highly recommend buying a larger starter plant, while it is a larger investment you have much more success and get bigger blooms in a shorter time considering the hydrangea is already harder to grow in a zone 2B or zone 3. Did you know larger garden centres usually offer a guarantee on their larger perennial plants for 1 year! So keep your pot and your receipt just in case
2. Limelight hydrangeas need well-drained soil. You can check out this article for more tips about soil and hydrangea plant spacing.
3. Hydrangeas like morning sun! Britt planted some on the south and east side of her house. The plants on the south side died but the limelight hydrangeas on the east side are thriving! Hydrangeas like to be protected from harsh wind as well. So we recommend the North or East side of the house or somewhere with evening shade.
4. Water, water, water!! Hydrangeas LOVE water. Everyday during that first year they will need lots of care; and watering everyday will be essential. A tip is to place mulch around the plant in a circle and create a well. So pull the mulch off of the base of the plant so that it creates a barrier about 8" away from the root base so the water can pool at the roots. Every year after you can start to reduce the amount you water the plants. Britt is on year 3 with her limelights and waters every 2-3 days.
5. Fertilize a few times in the Spring after the frost is gone as mentioned above about fertilizing tips.
6. Wintering and pruning hydrangeas. Prune any blooms, but do not cut back the hydrangea to much as the new growth in the Spring will bud from the old stems. And WATER, WATER, WATER again. Watering before the ground freezes is so important to protect the roots, especially in a central Alberta climate with chinooks. And then cover the roots generously with mulch or even dead leaves and grass clippings will work.
If you follow these tips you should be able to create a beautiful limelight hydrangea hedge in a zone that previously could not grow these beautiful blooms!
I hope you enjoyed our hydrangea care tips on how to get happy and healthy hydrangeas. We are so happy to now have so many options for our climate here in Alberta. Please leave us a comment below if you have a tip for caring for your hydrangeas!
And if you are looking for more home decor ideas you can check out our post on more ways you can incorporate fresh flowers throughout your home.