Hydrangea Care: A Complete Guide

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Welcome to our guide on the right way to care for your Hydrangea!

This is a comprehensive guide covering watering, sunlight requirements, soil requirements, fertilizing and more. Even you will learn to troubleshoot different Hydrangea problems too here.

So, Let’s get started!

Hydrangea Care

How to Plant Hydrangeas?

Planting hydrangeas can be a rewarding experience, adding vibrant colors to your garden.

Follow these steps to ensure healthy and beautiful hydrangea plants.

1. Choose the Right Location

Hydrangeas thrive in locations with partial sun and well-drained soil. Ensure the spot receives morning sun and afternoon shade.

2. Prepare the Soil

Hydrangeas do best in moist, rich soil. If your soil is light, improve it by adding moisture-retaining organic matter like well-rotted manure or compost.

3. Dig the Hole

Dig a hole that is twice the diameter of the hydrangea’s root ball and as deep as the pot it came in. This ensures the roots have enough space to spread and grow.

4. Plant the Hydrangea

Place the hydrangea in the hole, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the ground. Fill the hole with soil, patting it down gently to remove air pockets.

5. Water Thoroughly

After planting, water the hydrangea thoroughly. Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the first few weeks as the plant establishes itself.

6. Mulch Around the Plant

Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and prevent weeds. Use organic mulch like bark or compost.

7. Care and Maintenance

Hydrangeas require regular watering, especially during dry periods. Prune the plants as needed to maintain their shape and encourage new growth. Fertilize in the spring with a balanced fertilizer to promote healthy blooms.

This care guide we will see in more detail in the section below.

Hydrangea Care Requirements

Proper care is essential to ensure they thrive and produce stunning flowers.

Below are detailed care requirements for hydrangeas, including watering, lighting, fertilizing, soil, and pot selection.

Watering Requirements

  • Frequency: Hydrangeas need consistent moisture. Water them deeply once a week, or more frequently during hot, dry periods.
  • Method: Water at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to disease.
  • Newly Planted Hydrangeas: Require more frequent watering until they are established.

Lighting Requirements

  • Full Sun to Partial Shade: Hydrangeas thrive in locations that receive morning sun and afternoon shade.
  • Avoid Full Shade: While they can tolerate some shade, too much can reduce blooming.
  • Protection from Harsh Afternoon Sun: Essential to prevent leaf scorch.

Fertilizing Requirements

  • Timing: Fertilize in early spring and again in early summer.
  • Type of Fertilizer: Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer or one specifically formulated for hydrangeas.
  • Application: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid over-fertilization, which can lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of blooms.

Soil Requirements

  • Well-Draining Soil: Hydrangeas prefer soil that drains well to prevent root rot.
  • pH Level: The pH of the soil can affect the color of the blooms.
    • Acidic Soil (pH < 6): Produces blue flowers.
    • Alkaline Soil (pH > 7): Produces pink flowers.
    • Neutral Soil (pH 6-7): Often results in purple or mixed-color blooms.
  • Organic Matter: Incorporate compost or other organic matter to improve soil structure and fertility.

Choosing the Right Pot for Hydrangeas

  • Size: Choose a pot that is at least 18-24 inches in diameter to accommodate the root system.
  • Material: Select pots made from materials like terracotta, ceramic, or high-quality plastic with drainage holes.
  • Drainage: Ensure the pot has adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging.

Propagating Hydrangeas

Propagating hydrangeas is a rewarding way to expand your garden. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure success:

Propagation Methods

1. Stem Cuttings

Materials Needed:

  • Sharp pruners or scissors
  • Rooting hormone (optional)
  • Potting mix
  • Small pots or containers


  1. Select a Healthy Stem: Choose a non-flowering stem that is about 4-6 inches long.
  2. Cut Below a Node: Make a clean cut just below a leaf node (source: GardenTech).
  3. Remove Lower Leaves: Strip off the lower leaves, leaving only the top pair.
  4. Dip in Rooting Hormone: Optional but recommended for better root development.
  5. Plant in Potting Mix: Insert the cutting into a container filled with moist potting mix.
  6. Maintain Humidity: Cover the pot with a plastic bag or place in a propagator to retain moisture.
  7. Wait for Roots to Develop: Keep the soil moist and wait 2-3 weeks for roots to form.

2. Layering


  1. Select a Low Branch: Choose a branch that can be bent to the ground.
  2. Wound the Stem: Make a small cut or wound on the underside of the branch.
  3. Bury the Stem: Bury the wounded section in the soil, leaving the tip exposed.
  4. Secure the Stem: Use a U-shaped pin or a small rock to hold the stem in place.
  5. Wait for Roots: Roots will develop over a few months. Once established, cut the new plant from the mother plant and transplant.

Pruning Hydrangeas

Pruning hydrangeas is essential for maintaining their shape and encouraging healthy blooms. Different types of hydrangeas require different pruning techniques.

General Pruning Tips

  • Timing: The best time to prune depends on the type of hydrangea.
  • Tools: Use sharp, clean pruners to make clean cuts and prevent disease.

Pruning by Hydrangea Type

1. Bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Timing: Prune immediately after flowering, typically in late summer or early fall.


  1. Remove Dead Wood: Cut out any dead or damaged stems.
  2. Shape the Plant: Trim back stems to maintain the desired shape.
  3. Thin Out: Remove a few of the oldest stems at the base to encourage new growth.

2. Panicle Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata)

Timing: Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.


  1. Cut Back: Prune stems back by about one-third to one-half their length.
  2. Encourage Strong Stems: Focus on maintaining a few strong, healthy stems for larger blooms.

3. Smooth Hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens)

Timing: Prune in late winter or early spring.


  1. Hard Pruning: Cut all stems back to about 12-18 inches above the ground to promote vigorous growth.
  2. Remove Weak Stems: Eliminate any weak or spindly growth.

4. Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Timing: Prune immediately after flowering, usually in late summer.


  1. Minimal Pruning: Generally, only light pruning is needed to maintain shape.
  2. Remove Dead Wood: Cut out any dead or damaged stems.

5. Climbing Hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris)

Timing: Prune in late winter or early spring.


  1. Control Growth: Trim back to manage size and shape.
  2. Remove Dead or Damaged Stems: As with other types, remove any unhealthy growth.

Hydrangeas Care By Month

To ensure that your hydrangeas grow healthy and produce beautiful blooms, it is essential to provide them with proper care throughout the year.

Here’s a month-by-month guide to help you care for your hydrangeas.

MonthCare Tips
JanuaryInspect hydrangeas for damage, prune any dead or damaged stems, and remove any fallen leaves or debris around the plant.
FebruaryApply a slow-release fertilizer around the base of the plant to encourage healthy growth.
MarchBegin watering your hydrangeas regularly, especially if there is a lack of rainfall.
AprilApply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and keep the soil cool.
MayContinue watering and fertilizing your hydrangeas, and watch for any signs of pests or diseases.
JuneDeadhead spent blooms regularly to encourage new growth and prevent the plant from wasting energy on producing seeds.
JulyMonitor the soil moisture levels, and water as needed to prevent the plant from drying out.
AugustAvoid pruning your hydrangeas at this time, as it may affect next year’s blooms.
SeptemberCut back any dead or damaged stems, and remove any fallen leaves or debris around the plant.
OctoberApply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to protect it from winter frost.
NovemberStop fertilizing your hydrangeas, and reduce watering as the plant goes dormant for the winter.
DecemberInspect your hydrangeas for any signs of winter damage, and protect the plant from harsh winter weather.

Note: You have to monitor your plant regularly and adjust your care routine as needed to keep your hydrangeas happy and healthy.

Hydrangeas Care Difference Growing Indoors Vs Outdoors

When it comes to growing hydrangeas, there are some differences between growing them indoors and outdoors. Here are some of the key differences you should be aware of:


One of the most significant differences between growing hydrangeas indoors and outdoors is the amount of light they receive.

Hydrangeas grown outdoors need plenty of sunlight to thrive, while indoor hydrangeas require less direct sunlight.

If you’re growing hydrangeas indoors, it’s best to place them near a window that receives bright, indirect light.


Another difference between indoor and outdoor hydrangeas is the temperature they prefer.

Outdoor hydrangeas can tolerate a wider range of temperatures, while indoor hydrangeas prefer a more consistent temperature. Keep indoor hydrangeas in a room that stays between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


Hydrangeas prefer a humid environment, which can be more difficult to achieve indoors.

If you’re growing hydrangeas indoors, consider using a humidifier or placing a tray of water near the plant to increase the humidity in the air.


When it comes to watering, both indoor and outdoor hydrangeas prefer consistent moisture.

However, outdoor hydrangeas may require more frequent watering, especially during hot, dry weather. Indoor hydrangeas should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.


Fertilizing is important for both indoor and outdoor hydrangeas, but the timing and frequency may differ.

Outdoor hydrangeas should be fertilized in the spring and summer, while indoor hydrangeas can be fertilized year-round. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer and follow the instructions on the package.

Types of Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas come in many varieties, each with its own unique characteristics and growing requirements. Here are some of the most common types of hydrangeas:

TypeBotanical NameCharacteristicsBloom TimeFlower ColorsSpecial Notes
Bigleaf HydrangeaHydrangea macrophyllaGlossy foliage, ball-like blooms, mophead or lacecap varietiesMid-summer to fallBlue, pink, purple, whiteColor can change based on soil pH (source)
Panicle HydrangeaHydrangea paniculataCone-shaped flower clusters, very hardyMid-summer to fallWhite, pink, greenCan be pruned to form tree-like shape (source)
Smooth HydrangeaHydrangea arborescensLarge, round flower heads, adaptable to various soilsEarly summer to fallWhite, greenKnown for ‘Annabelle’ variety with large white blooms (source)
Oakleaf HydrangeaHydrangea quercifoliaDistinctive oak-shaped leaves, large conical bloomsLate spring to summerWhite, turning pinkish as they ageLeaves turn red, yellow, bronze in fall (source)
Mountain HydrangeaHydrangea serrataSimilar to bigleaf but smaller, lacecap flowersMid-summer to fallBlue, pinkMore cold-hardy than bigleaf hydrangeas (source)

Understanding Hydrangea Blooms

Understanding the different types of hydrangea blooms can help you care for your plant and ensure it produces beautiful flowers year after year.

Bloom Time

Hydrangeas typically bloom in the summer months, but the exact bloom time can vary depending on the type of hydrangea and your location.

Some hydrangeas bloom in early summer, while others bloom in late summer. Knowing the bloom time of your hydrangea is crucial for planning pruning and care.

Flower Color

One of the most distinctive features of hydrangeas is their flower color, which can include shades of pink, blue, white, and purple.

The color of the flowers is influenced by the pH level of the soil. Acidic soil (pH below 7) produces blue flowers, while alkaline soil (pH above 7) produces pink flowers.

Adjusting the soil pH with amendments can change the color of your hydrangea blooms (source).

Mophead and Lacecap Hydrangeas

Mophead and lacecap hydrangeas are two common types.

Mopheads have large, round flowerheads, while lacecaps have flat flowerheads with a ring of larger flowers around the edge. Both types come in various colors and can be grown in a range of climates (source).

Fall Color

In addition to their summer blooms, some hydrangeas also have attractive fall foliage.

As the weather cools, the leaves can turn shades of red, orange, and yellow, adding a pop of color to your garden and making your hydrangea a standout feature in the fall (source).

Changing Colors of Hydrangea Blooms

Hydrangeas are popular for their ability to change bloom colors based on soil pH. Here are steps to change the color of your hydrangea blooms:

Check Your Species

Before attempting to change the color, identify your hydrangea species. Some species, such as PeeGee and Annabelle, do not change color regardless of soil pH.

However, mophead and lacecap hydrangeas are known for their color-changing abilities.

Adjust Soil pH

To change the color of your hydrangea blooms, you need to adjust the soil pH:

  • For Blue Blooms: Acidic soil with a pH level of 5.2-5.5 is needed. You can achieve this by adding aluminum sulfate to the soil.
  • For Pink Blooms: Alkaline soil with a pH level of 6.0-6.2 is required. You can achieve this by adding garden lime to the soil.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Hydrangeas can also change color due to nutrient deficiencies. For example, a lack of aluminum will result in pink blooms, while a phosphorus deficiency can lead to purple blooms. To avoid nutrient deficiencies, fertilize your hydrangea regularly with a balanced fertilizer.

Container Gardening

If adjusting the pH level of your garden soil proves challenging, consider container gardening.

Growing hydrangeas in containers allows for easier control of soil pH and the ability to move the plant to find the best location for optimal growth.

Dealing with Hydrangea Pests and Diseases

Here are some common pests and diseases that affect hydrangeas and how to deal with them.

Pests that Affect Hydrangea

1. Aphids

Aphids are tiny insects with soft bodies that extract plant sap as their food source. They are usually found on the undersides of leaves and can cause leaves to curl and distort.

To control aphids, you can spray your hydrangeas with a strong stream of water to knock them off the plant or use insecticidal soap. Ladybugs and lacewings are natural predators of aphids and can be introduced to your garden to help control their population.

2. Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny pests that feed on the sap of plants, causing leaves to turn yellow and dry out. They are often found on the undersides of leaves and can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

You can also introduce predatory mites or ladybugs to your garden to control their population.

Diseases that are Commonly Seen on Hydrangea

1. Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that causes a white, powdery coating on leaves and stems. Insufficient air circulation and high humidity levels can lead to this condition.

To prevent powdery mildew, make sure your hydrangeas are planted in an area with good air circulation and avoid overhead watering. If your plants do become infected, you can remove and destroy the affected leaves or use a fungicide.

2. Leaf Spot

Leaf spot is a fungal disease that causes brown spots on leaves. It can be caused by overwatering or poor air circulation.

To prevent leaf spots, make sure your hydrangeas are planted in well-draining soil and avoid overhead watering. If your plants do become infected, you can remove and destroy the affected leaves or use a fungicide.

As a gardener, it’s important to keep an eye on your hydrangeas and take action at the first sign of pests or diseases. Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of damage or distress and take measures to prevent and control issues as needed.

Common Problems of Hydrangeas

Growing hydrangeas can sometimes come with challenges. Here are some common issues and their solutions:

1. No Blooms


  • Insufficient Sunlight: Hydrangeas need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily to bloom.
  • Excessive Nitrogen: High nitrogen levels promote foliage growth at the expense of blooms.
  • Improper Pruning: Pruning at the wrong time can remove flower buds.


  • Ensure the plant receives adequate sunlight.
  • Balance fertilization, avoiding high-nitrogen fertilizers.
  • Prune immediately after flowering to avoid cutting off next year’s buds.

2. Brown Spots on Leaves


  • Fungal Infections: Commonly caused by leaf spot diseases.
  • Environmental Stress: Factors like excessive moisture or poor air circulation.


  • Identify the cause accurately.
  • Apply appropriate fungicides.
  • Adjust watering practices and improve air circulation around the plant.

3. Wilting


  • Underwatering: Hydrangeas need consistent moisture.
  • Overwatering: Can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot.


  • Water deeply but infrequently, ensuring the soil remains moist but not soggy.
  • Improve soil drainage if necessary.

4. Pest Infestation

Common Pests:

  • Aphids
  • Spider mites
  • Scale insects


  • Keep the plant healthy with proper watering and fertilization.
  • Treat infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

5. Winter Damage


  • Exposure to cold temperatures can damage stems, buds, and roots.


  • Plant hydrangeas in protected areas.
  • Mulch around the base to insulate roots.
  • Use burlap or frost blankets during extreme cold periods.

By understanding and addressing these common issues, you can help ensure your hydrangeas remain healthy and vibrant.

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