These easy-to-grow shrubs just need a little care and they'll provide your garden with gorgeous blooms all season long.

By Jillian Kramer
August 26, 2019
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Hydrangeas are shrubs that boast huge, vibrant clusters of small florets that bloom from late spring until fall and are incredibly easy to grow. Their ease makes them a popular choice among those with green thumbs and those who are new to gardening, alike. But despite that ease it's still possible for home gardeners to make mistakes with hydrangeas. Here are five mistakes you might be making with this flowering shrub—and how to correct them.

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You're not planting hydrangeas in well-drained soil.

Ryan McEnaney, communications specialist for Bailey Nurseries, says, "You've got to give your hydrangea a comfortable home to settle down in or they can struggle." Hydrangeas prefer "well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients," McEnaney says, adding that heavy clay and sand-like soils aren't ideal for this plant. However, you can add gypsum to clay to aid with drainage, and peat moss or sand to allow for more water retention, he explains.

You're giving hydrangeas too much sun.

Hydrangeas love morning sun and afternoon shade, and the farther south you get, the more shade hydrangeas will need, says McEnaney. "If you live in zone 4, you can get away with almost full sun," he says. "But if you live in zone 7 to 9, you really want to restrict the sun exposure to a few hours in the early morning to avoid scorching the leaves and blooms."

You're pruning your hydrangeas in the fall.

Hydrangeas should never be pruned in the fall. Why? "Hydrangeas set flower buds for the following season in fall, so if you cut it back, you are cutting off all of the blooms," explains McEnaney. Instead, hydrangeas should be pruned in the spring—preferably past Father's Day, if you can wait that long. "It may not be ideal to keep the leafless stems up in the garden, but you want to be sure you're not cutting off any old wood that is dormant and late to come back, because you'll be removing your blooms for early in the season," he says.

You're over-fertilizing your hydrangeas.

If you're fertilizing your hydrangeas weekly, you are fertilizing them too often. "Adding fertilizer weekly can add too much nitrogen to the soil, which can actually slow bloom production," McEnaney says. Instead, he recommends fertilizing hydrangeas as the plant is "first waking up" in the spring—and one more time in mid-July, as its buds are blooming. "That extra energy will really help with getting more blooms."

You're watering your hydrangeas too much.

"Hydrangeas really like well-drained soil—not too wet, not too dry," says McEnaney. While newly planted hydrangeas need more water, established plants need less. "The best rule of thumb is just to get your fingers a little dirty," he says. "Stick your finger in the soil past the first knuckle. If it's dry, give the hydrangea a good soak. If it's moist or wet, leave it alone. Depending on your natural rainfall and summer temperatures, this could mean watering every day or two, or it could mean that you only water once a week."

Comments (13)

Anonymous
July 1, 2020
I have a question, more than a comment. I live in Minnesota. It seems our hydrangeas fi back fully each year, yet, I have one with blooms, one without. Both started out, (after being established), in the Spring as "dead to the ground" and mowed over for a "fresh start". Any comments or suggestions? Thank you. Much appreciated.
Anonymous
June 19, 2020
My housekeeper had pruned all my hydrangeas in the spring while I was out of town ( I live in new jersey) &. they haven’t bloomed in 6 years, I tried fertilizing each spring & nothing; last summer I fertilized them in July with organic bone meal fertilizer & already every one of them has tons of blooms & did not prune at all, I hope this helps
Anonymous
June 19, 2020
For several years I had wonderful flowers on all of my hydrangeas, all 8 of them. We had a very cold winter several winters back and haven’t seen any flowers on 6 of them. They are in different parts of my yard. Even my everblooming only has one or 2 Buds a year. Something is going on from being spectacular to just a green Bush.
Anonymous
May 31, 2020
I see comments but no solutions. My plants flowered the first year that we planted them. I did prune back in the spring 2 times and only had flowers on one of the plants. I am in the norther part of the country and they are planted on the south side of the house so mostly sun. How do I get these to grow flowers again??
Anonymous
October 10, 2019
Someone trimmed my Hydrangeas early in the spring a few years back, and they haven't bloomed since. How to I get them to bloom again?
Anonymous
October 8, 2019
Mine hasn’t bloomed in years. It has a beautiful round shape, getting larger every year and I get no flowers. I think it needs to be fed.
Anonymous
September 22, 2019
Why are mine greenish?
Anonymous
August 31, 2019
informative post
Anonymous
August 31, 2019
informative post
Anonymous
August 31, 2019
informative post
Anonymous
August 26, 2019
I have 2 hydrangeas 5 feet apart, both get the morning sun. The Bush with the afternoon sun flowers beautifully while the other which is in partial shade during the afternoon has never flowered; what's up with that? Rose
Anonymous
August 26, 2019
I have 2 hydrangeas 5 feet apart, both get the morning sun. The Bush with the afternoon sun flowers beautifully while the other which is in partial shade during the afternoon has never flowered; what's up with that? Rose
Anonymous
August 26, 2019
I have 2 hydrangeas 5 feet apart, both get the morning sun. The Bush with the afternoon sun flowers beautifully while the other which is in partial shade during the afternoon has never flowered; what's up with that? Rose