Hydrangeas – everything you need to know about growing hydrangeas in your garden

Hydrangeas are one of the most amazing
flowers you can have in the garden and I’ve come here to Signature Hydrangeas
in Kent to talk to hydrangea specialist Roger Butler about how to choose and
care for hydrangeas it’s Alexandra here from The Middlesized Garden YouTube channel and blog Hydrangeas start flowering around midsummer
and they go on often until around the end of November. Some of their flowers
keep their shape in winter so they look fantastic in frosty gardens and others
have leaves which contribute to autumn color because they change into wonderful
reds and golds. On top of that hydrangeas grow in almost any soil, they adore the
shade and some of them are quite happy in the sun and they also will grow in
quite difficult conditions like woodland gardens or coastal gardens.
And hydrangeas are fairly trouble-free you when it comes to pests – deer and
rabbits actually don’t like them because the leaves are slightly toxic and when
it comes to slugs and snails Roger Butler says that there is a small
problem there, but actually you can deal with it using natural methods. At
Signature Hydrangeas they have fairly wildlife friendly gardening and so they
do use some organic slug and snail controls such as nematodes but otherwise
the birds and the hedgehogs and the frogs take care of their slug and snail
problem and I’ve certainly found that in my garden – I’ve never seen any it’s like
all snail damage on my hydrangeas. There are four main kinds of hydrangea
and it’s a good idea to know the difference because you need to prune
them in different ways. The most common sort of hydrangea is the macrophylla
and that’s the hydrangea that most of us think of, and those divide into two types:
there’s the mop heads and the lace caps. The mop heads are just simply round
balls – they’re like mop heads and the lace caps have a rather delicate
filigree appearance in the center where they’ve got little buds and then open
flowers around the outside. Mop heads and lace caps both need to be pruned in
February or in early spring and Roger suggests that you simply snip off the
dead flowers and one set of leaves just above a a fat bud which will be
the next summer’s flowers. If you cut back the stems of mop heads and lace too far you will actually cut off the flower buds. The next two types
of hydrangea are growing in popularity – one of them you’ve probably seen in
designer gardens a lot over the last ten years and that’s hydrangea arborescens.
Arborescens hydrangeas are known as wild hydrangeas in the United States or even
smooth hydrangeas and along with paniculata hydrangeas, they need really hard
pruning. Paniculata hydrangeas have got cone shaped flowers and Roger says that
these are growing in popularity really fast – he’s noticed more people buying
paniculata over the last few years than any other kind of hydrangea. When you’re
pruning arborescens and paniculatas you need to prune them right down hard
down to the last two buds from the ground and once again this is done in
February or early March. And the last type of hydrangea that I’ll talk about
is the oak leaf hydrangeas and you can recognize these because their leaves are
quite literally like oak tree leaves. The foliage of oak leaf hydrangeas changes
color in the autumn so they’re a wonderful part of the autumn garden and
they only need very light pruning. Oak leaf hydrangeas will generally withstand
drought and cold even better than any of the other hydrangeas so they are good
for difficult conditions and all you need to do when pruning them in February
or early March is to snip off the dead flowers and take out any stems that are
spoiling the shape – they really only need very light pruning. So let’s get on to
how to choose and care for hydrangeas Roger says that one of the things that
puzzle people most about hydrangeas is the issue of their color. Well, hydrangeas hydrangea macrophylla (mop heads and lace caps)
change their color with the acidity of the soil and this plant here has been
grown in a very acid soil of a pH of five and it has a lot of aluminium
sulfate watered into it – actually it’s in a snow release form here in in
the compost which is why it’s such a lovely blue. If that was growing on an
alkaline soil it would be deep pink. White is white – it doesn’t matter what
happens though when the flowers age they do change – some of
them go pink. What would you advise on how we should choose hydrangeas? Well you
should consider the site that you’re using to start with. If you have a sunny
site you’re better off planting paniculata
or arborescens varieties and if you’ve got light to heavy shade or woodland
conditions the macrophylllas and the serratas are the best bet. And where in
the garden is the best place to grow your
hydrangeas? Well, if you’re growing macro phyllas, they don’t need to be in full
sun because in a hot summer, the flowers will burn – particularly the white
ones so you’re better off to keep them in a shady spot or a light
shade, so they’re not in the sun all day and otherwise you can just put the
others anywhere. Paniculatas like being in full sun and the arborescens
varieties like Annabelle like being in full sun. And what is the best time of
year to plant a hydrangea? Well you can plant them virtually any time of the
year as long as you care for them properly and water them well during the
summer. Which plants grow well with hydrangeas? Well generally I would
suggest that you grow hydrangeas on their own because the macrophyllas
are quite dense plants and it’s not particularly good to have
plants that need sun right next to them and my personal feeling is that they
look better planted on their own, although you can dot them in borders in
groups. Can they be moved – if you’ve got a hydrangea in the wrong place, can you move it? Yyes you can move them – the best time
to move them once you’ve planted them is the end of October, early November and
plant them and get them back in the ground as soon as possible.
And do hydrangeas grow indoors at all? Lots of the macrophyllas now are
grown as pot plants or patio pot plants and house plants and these are of course forced because you now can buy hydrangeas in flower from February
through till November, Could you plant those out in the garden afterwards? You
can definitely but you’ve got to be quite careful at what time of the year
you plant them out – I would suggest that if you have plants that are flowering
early it’s fine to plant them out after they finish flowering but if you
have plants that flower say from September onwards it’s best to keep them
in the pots and plant them out in the spring because their season has been
totally interrupted by being in cold store and then forced under glass. What
if your hydrangea is wilting- what should you do? Well hydrangeas that are
wilting are usually still in pots and it’s usually because they’re too dry or
they’ve been standing in water and lost a lot of root. S if they’re dry soak them
completely and if they’re sitting in water let the water drain away. And do
you need to feed hydrangeas? Yes they’re quite gross feeders – you feed them in the
spring we feed them with Osmocote which is a coated slow release fertilizer in
the garden – you can use blood fish and bone, which is ideal for it. I would feed
them at the end of February or early March and possibly again in July or
early August after they flower but not too much fertilizer for the autumn. And
are there any particular hydrangeas that attract bees? The bees seem to like the
lacecap varieties and the paniculatas And what would you say to people
who are worried that their hydrangeas are not flowering? Quite often the the
plants that don’t flower have been pruned incorrectly – when you grow
hydrangea macrophylla you must understand that the
new the flowering buds for next year are in these top shoots and they’re not down
close to the ground so if you cut them back too far – half or more of the stems off, all you’re going to do is get leaf
growth buds and no flower – that’s true for 95% of the varieties although some
of the newer varieties are repeat flowering ones. What do you do with hydrangeas in winter? If they’re in pots I
would suggest that they’re put somewhere where they can’t get too cold in really
cold easterly winds if the temperatures drop below minus five or six. Apart
from that they’re fine outside – they’re fine in the garden. And are there
any particular ones that keep their heads particularly well in the winter?
Well quite a lot of the macrophyllas do keep their heads if they’re not in too
moist condition in the autumn and of course they change color from when they first flower through to the autumn and then and when they go dry in the
winter they are particularly attractive in frosty weather. And also which
ones are good for foliage? There are some varieties like like this one
which is Julissa which has that purple foliage all of the time – some of the
Serratas like Bluebird color up nicely in in the autumn. If you’ve enjoyed this
do please hit like because then i’ll know you’d like to hear more about
individual plants and if you’d like a gorgeous garden but you’re often short
of time or money or expertise then do subscribe to the Mddle-sized Garden
Youtube channel for tips, ideas and inspiration for your garden – thank you
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18 thoughts on “Hydrangeas – everything you need to know about growing hydrangeas in your garden

  1. Thank you Alexandra! I have a mop head that never blooms. I have just discovered your videos and am learning a lot. Thank you for taking the time to share so much information on gardens. I love all your videos!

  2. Great information thank you ,I would like to see more information on individual plant.How about an episode on pruning toperairies and Japanese maples.

  3. That was the best hydrangea video I’ve ever seen. It was so specific where to prune the mop heads. I have quite a few mop heads that I’ve rescued from friends gardens but I have few or no flowers. I’m afraid to prune them . I’m going to focus on feeding them and see what happens next spring. Thanks!

  4. This was a really good video, however there was no mention of the climbing hydrangea. Any tips or guidance on pruning and care for that would be good. Perhaps you could produce a video of climbers that includes it, as well as talking about those that don't damage buildings, and those good for naturalising?

  5. Hello, I have a potted hydrangea on a balcony in northern Spain, it gets no more than two hours of sun everyday, I have noticed white spots on its leaves, I suppose I must have been watering too much, but I have been watering once a week, I was under the impression that hydrangeas liked moisture, am I wrong?

  6. I bought a limelight hydrangea plant and and planted in partial afternoon sun. I live in zone 6a. The beautiful creamy flowers turned a yucky green. Unsure what to do and why this happened. Any ideas/advice? Thank you

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