How to Boost the Color of Your Hydrangeas

Plus, tips on how to slow these flowers' natural fading out process.

No matter how big your hydrangea blooms grow, if they look faded or discolored, they're not as beautiful as they could be. "When flowers fade, it can detract from the overall look of your garden," says gardening expert Melinda Myers. "This happens when the plant is grown in more intense sun than the it prefers, or if it doesn't receive enough water." Along with sunlight and moisture issues, Myers says that soil plays a big role in the color and vibrancy of your hydrangeas. Curious how you can boost your hydrangea blooms so they'll shine all season long? We asked two pros—Myers and Amy Enfield, a horticulturist at ScottsMiracle-Gro and Bonnie Plants—for their best advice.

pink and blue hydrangeas along side of house
Getty / Sasha Cornish / EyeEm

Go easy on the fertilizer.

According to Meyers, more isn't always better when it comes to fertilizing plants. "Too much nitrogen in the soil can result in hydrangeas with less colorful blooms," she says. "A soil test will tell you how much (and what kind) of fertilizer is needed to ensure your blooms grow as big and bright as they deserve to be."

Avoid planting in direct sunlight.

While the colors of hydrangea flowers will naturally fade over time, Enfield says that planting them in direct sunlight is a surefire way to speed up that process. "Too much direct sunlight, especially in the afternoon, will cause the flower color to fade quicker than normal," she explains. "Your hydrangea should be planted in a spot that is protected from the hot afternoon sun, but still receives the cool morning sun."

Water and feed correctly.

Along with too much direct sunlight, Enfield says that too much or too little water can cause hydrangea flowers to fade at a faster rate. "Hydrangeas should be watered thoroughly and deeply whenever the top inch of soil is dry," she explains. "Be careful not to overwater the plant, which can restrict air flow around the roots." She also warns the color of your blossoms will fade if they aren't fed properly. "Nutrients are required by the plant to produce and support the blooms."

Add aluminum to your soil to boost the color of your blue hydrangeas.

A little aluminum sulfate can go a long way in boosting the color of your blue hydrangeas. "The acidity of aluminum is what influences the blue color of flowers," Myers explains. "In alkaline soil, where there isn't as much aluminum available to the plant, try adding aluminum sulfate—or an equally acidic element like ammonium sulfate—to the soil to brighten the blues of your blooms."

Brighten pink hydrangeas with alkaline soil.

The more alkaline your soil is, the brighter your pink and red hydrangeas will be. To make your soil less acidic (and more alkaline), spread wood ashes or limestone over the ground and use a hoe or tiller to work it into the soil. "Or plant panicle or oakleaf hydrangeas with flowers that start white and fade to pink and red later in the season," Myers adds.

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