Restore your overgrown, floppy hydrangeas with these tips.

By Caroline Biggs
August 27, 2020
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For as big and bushy as we want our hydrangeas to become, if the blooms get too heavy or the leaves too expansive, you could have a problem. "Warm temperatures and humid conditions can cause the stems of your hydrangeas to weaken and the blooms to flop over," explains gardening expert Melinda Myers. "Much like weeds, plants can overgrow when exposed to too much moisture."

hydrangea bushes lining a path
Credit: Getty / Akasaka Shinsuke / EyeEm

And while, in most cases, a drooping hydrangea isn't a major cause for concern, Myers says that it could damage the appearance of the flowering blooms, which isn't a good look for a garden. "When they get weighed down to the ground, flopping flowers can discolor and in some instances, rot because of soil moisture," she says. Curious about what can be done to prevent your hydrangea blooms from getting too bushy—or what you can do if they already are?

Be careful when pruning.

While deadheading your hydrangeas can be helpful for new growth, Myers says too much pruning can be detrimental. "If you cut 'Annabelle' varieties all the way back to the ground, all of the energy stored in the roots will go into producing above ground growth that is often too weak to support the blooms," she explains. "Cutting back the plants to 15 to 18 inches in the late winter will encourage new growth from the ground up, while the older stems can help provide support for the new growth."

Don't add too much fertilizer to the soil.

The right amount of fertilizer can work wonders, but Myers warns that too much can make blooms too active. "Too much fertilizer, especially one that's high in nitrogen, can promote excessive top growth that may not be able to support the blooms," she says. To ensure you're using the correct type and amount of fertilizer, she recommends testing the pH levels of your soil with the help of a test kit.

Provide support when necessary.

A little staking can go a long way when restoring floppy hydrangeas to their original glory. "Once the stems begin to flop, you can stake individual stems to help them grow tall," Myers explains. "Place a stake behind the stem and loosely secure it with a piece of twine. Or if your hydrangeas are growing near a fence, you can stake the stems to the fencing so it looks less intentional."

Try a new location.

If you just can't seem to get your hydrangea blooms to stop growing, Myers says to consider transplanting them to a new location. "Evaluate the current growing conditions and if your hydrangeas are in an area where they're exposed to too much moisture or not enough sun, move them somewhere more conducive to healthy, sturdy growth," she says. She also recommends harvesting bigger blooms to enjoy indoors from time to time, to lighten the weight on the stems.

Maintenance matters.

With proper care and maintenance, Myers says you can stop your hydrangea blooms from growing too large. "Water your hydrangeas thoroughly but less frequently to encourage deep roots that are more drought tolerant and that will produce hardier stems," she says. "Also, removing broken and damaged stems as soon as you discover them will promote healthier growth and better blooms."

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