By Dave Van Raay
Hydrangeas are a summer stunner and one of Canada’s favourite shrubs. Not only do they gain popularity for their significant and vibrant flowers, but the secrets surrounding their chameleon-like colour changes have more gardeners interested each year. To help you make the most of this popular shrub and to get started growing your own impressive globes of colourful blooms in your yard, here’s our advice.
Getting to know Hydrangea
Most species of this blooming beauty call East Asia home, where they can be found covering entire volcanic hillsides in intense blue hues. The varieties that we see in garden centres in Canada range from incredibly tough and hardy, to those that need a little more pampering. With our milder climate, we get a full sampling of the best that hydrangeas have to offer, without stressing too much about our plants surviving the winter.
The everyday basics to take care of your hydrangea are startlingly simple – it’s the pruning that can stump gardeners without some basic knowledge.
Location – While they will grow fine with full sun or partial shade, the perfect spot for your hydrangea is somewhere with a little protection from the afternoon sun. Humidity helps to cut the intensity of the sun rays, but a dappling of shade will help make sure your hydrangea doesn’t fold under the heat and UV. Conveniently, locations with a bit of protection from the sun also offer great shelter from strong winds.
Soil – The key is to keep your soil moist, but not wet. This becomes especially important during heat waves, but your hydrangea will appreciate consistent moisture all season. A few inches of organic mulch is a great way to lock moisture in.
Watering – As we said, your hydrangea will be happiest in soil that is consistently moist. When you water your shrub, water it deeply. Keep in mind that heat waves will leave your shrub more parched than usual, so you’ll need to adjust your watering accordingly. When you water, try to avoid splashing muddy water onto the foliage – mulch can help prevent this, too. Keeping your plant’s leaves clean is especially crucial in cool weather when leaf fungus can set in. This fungus is generally harmless but can ruin the aesthetic of your plant.
Planting – You’ll have the best results planting your hydrangea in cool weather. If you have to plant while temperatures are high, keep their roots moist and provide a 3 in 1 soil compost mix for them to have a good start.
Every year tons of eager gardeners wait in anticipation for their Hydrangeas’ gorgeous bouquets of flowers, only to get an underwhelming season of only leaves. This disappointment usually has pruning to blame, which is easy to fix with a little know-how. Hydrangeas can be broken down into two categories with different blooming and pruning habits.
Old Wood Bloomers
New Wood Bloomers
Other hydrangea types include those that bloom on new growth. These include “Paniculata” varieties, like Limelight, PG and Little Lamb, and “Arborescens” varieties, like Annabelle, Invincibelle, and Incrediball. These bloomers you can be far more liberal with pruning in late fall or early spring. You can trim them back in either season without being afraid of affecting their summer blooms, which is useful to keep their rapid growth in line.
At this point in the season, it could be a little late to trim them back too aggressively, but you will still be able to safely prune the branches of most varieties by 25-50%, if you feel that it’s needed. Pruning later in the season won’t risk your summer blooms, though it will likely delay them to later in the season.
Colour Changing Hydrangeas
Our Favourite Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas are not difficult shrubs to take care of! With a bit of knowledge you can get all the benefits of their gorgeous blooms every year, without risking the frustration of mistakes. These shrubs are so popular because they create long lasting, easy care impact in any yard. For delightful flowers, stunning colour, hardiness, and a little bit of colour-changing magic, stop by the Glasshouse today!