Six Ways to Get More Blooms from Your Hydrangeas
From the best soil conditions to pruning tips, two gardeners share their advice on achieving bigger, better, and more plentiful blossoms.
For as big and beautiful as some hydrangea blooms can grow to be, others aren't so lucky. "Wilting is the biggest problem that gardeners face when growing hydrangeas," says Venelin Dimitrov, the Product Manager at Burpee. "Some varieties tend to wilt in full sun, so location is key to ensuring they have a half a day of direct sunlight."
Along with planting them in the right place, properly watering your hydrangeas is essential to bigger and better blooms. "Hydrangeas should be watered deeply several times per week to encourage deep root growth," explains Amy Enfield, a horticulturist at ScottsMiracle-Gro. "Water should be applied at the base of the plant to keep the leaves and flowers dry. It is also best to water in the morning to help reduce wilting during the heat of day." Looking for more advice about how get more blooms from your hydrangeas? We asked Dimitrov and Enfield to share some of their best tips, and here's what they had to say.
Choose the right variety.
Enfield says that certain types of hydrangeas grow naturally bigger blooms, and as a result, have different watering and sunlight needs. "It's important to know what type of hydrangea you're growing," she says. "Hydrangeas fall into four main classes: Bigleaf (H. macrophylla) which includes the ever-blooming types, Smooth (H. arborescens), Panicle (H. paniculata), and Oakleaf (H. quercifolia). Check the plant tags to help identify the type of hydrangea you have, and care for it accordingly."
Plant them in the fall.
According to Dimitrov, planting your hydrangeas in the fall will ensure they grow better blooms. "We call the fall the 'second summer' because it's a great time to plant hardier varieties because of the cool temperatures," he explains. "Planting hydrangeas in September gives them more time to establish roots before blooming next year in June."
Keep the soil moist.
If you aren't keeping the soil around your hydrangeas continuously moist, Enfield says you're making a big mistake. "All hydrangea types grow best with consistent moisture, but bigleaf and smooth hydrangeas require more water than other varieties," she explains. "Adding mulch around your hydrangeas will help keep the soil moist and cool." If you aren't sure whether your soil is moist enough, Dimitrov says you can check by sticking your finger directly into the soil. "The soil should be damp at about one inch below the surface," he says.
Provide the right amount of light.
Since too much sunlight can cause hydrangeas to wilt, Enfield says to refrain from planting them in unshaded areas. "Avoid planting your hydrangea where it gets hot, direct full afternoon sun," she says. "While the plant may survive, the constant stress of the full, hot sun will reduce flowering."
A little fertilizer goes a long way when you're trying to score bigger hydrangea blooms, but Enfield warns that too much might cause problems down the line. "Additional plant food can be used throughout the growing season, but keep in mind that adding too much nitrogen to the soil in spring may reduce flowering," she says.
Don't forget to deadhead.
Both experts recommend removing spent flowers from your hydrangeas when they start to fade to make way for new, fuller blooms—a process known as deadheading. "If you plant your hydrangeas in the right location and give them ample space to grow, the only trimming you should ever have to do is to remove the deadwood and dried blooms," Enfield explains.