An Instruction Manual for Planting Hydrangeas

An Instruction Manual for Planting Hydrangeas

Due to the landscape near rural farms and next to houses in the suburbs, the hydrangea plant is a breeze to grow—as long as you know how and when to plant hydrangeas and what types of hydrangeas to use in your area. Knowing when to plant will give your hydrangeas a good start and help them build a robust root system. And healthy plants produce the most beautiful flower show. Below are the two best options for when to plant hydrangeas, as well as tips for choosing the right site, how to plant and care after planting.

What are hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas may have an old-fashioned feel, but there are now more than 1,800 varieties in cultivation, including dwarf varieties such as large-leaved dizzy hydrangeas and cut flower favorites such as Little Quick Fire. Ranging from only a foot tall to fifteen feet or more, there are hydrangeas for almost every use. And if the garden space is limited, you can even grow this classic shrub in pots on your terrace, veranda or balcony. Attracted by these sustainable and traditional snowballs? The old-fashioned broom-headed variety is probably for you. Do you want to help local pollinators? Think of a lace cap like Endless Summer Twist-n-Shout or a type of panic like the French manicure. The lacecap hertensia and the panicle hertensia offer a mixture of small clusters of real fertile flowers alongside their colorful but sterile sepals.

You can also support another very unusual and specific pollinator by planting arboreal hydrangeas. Cold and drought tolerant, these native, smooth hydrangeas are home to the hydrangea sphinx, a colorful butterfly that grows up to 3 inches in diameter.

How to determine when to plant hydrangeas, depending on where you live

The choice you make about when to plant hydrangeas is determined in part by the climate in your area. If you live in a place with harsh winters, wait until your last average frost date has passed before planting in the spring. If you prefer to plant your hydrangeas in the fall, put them in the ground a few weeks before your first average frost.

But what if you live in a warm climate with a long growing season and mild winters? In USDA hardiness zones 8 or higher, you are not as likely to lose your hydrangeas due to the biting winter weather. For example, in zone 8, the low temperatures are 10 to 20 degrees F (-12.2 to -6.7 degrees C). Therefore, you have a longer planting window and you can plant at the end of winter or at the very beginning of spring. (That said, however, you need to make sure that your hydrangeas are well established before extreme heat or drought occurs.)

Common types of hydrangeas

Just as the local climate should determine your decision to plant hydrangeas, it can also take into account the hydrangea varieties you choose.

Hydrangea paniculata-with slightly conical flowers, this cold and drought-tolerant variety thrives in full sun and can even grow in clay soils.

Hydrangea macrophylla – also called large-leaved hydrangeas, these plants tolerate heat, shade and wet feet a little better than the others.

Hydrangea serrata-well shaded and suitable for potted gardens, this more compact grower does not tolerate wet feet or very hot temperatures well.

Hydrangea quercifolia-known as oak-leaved hydrangeas, these plants can be picky. THEY work best in ideal conditions, warm, sunny and humid.

Hydrangea arborescens-native to North America, smooth hydrangeas can withstand drought, cool temperatures and uneven shade well. One thing that H. arborescens will not tolerate? Prolonged wet conditions.

Two options for when to plant hydrangeas

Are you curious about when to plant hydrangeas for optimal results? Early spring or autumn is preferable. (In fact, as long as your soil is exploitable and the hydrangeas to be planted are still dormant, you can plant them even at the end of winter. Your goal is to give the hydrangeas enough time to take root—before the extremely hot or cold weather hits.

Spring hydrangea planter

If you live in a place with harsh winters, you should wait until your average last frost date has passed before planting hydrangeas in the spring. If you have milder winters, you can plant your hydrangeas earlier.

The main point to remember when planting hydrangeas? Hydrangeas planted in the spring should have enough time to settle in before the conditions become very hot and dry.

Autumn hydrangea planting

When it comes to planting fall hydrangeas, it is best to plant plants in the ground while your soil is still workable and your average first frost date is several weeks away. Essentially, you want to time things so that your hydrangeas can overcome any transplant shock and settle into their new burrows before the very cold weather arrives.

Choosing a site to plant your hydrangea

As important as knowing when to plant hydrangeas? Of course, decide where to put them. You must have an account of the size at maturity and the growth habit of all the varieties that you have in mind. Then carefully consider the growing conditions that you can provide. The basic needs of hydrangeas include::

Full sun to partial shade – hydrangeas like full sun, as long as it’s not too hot or too harsh. The morning sun combined with a little shade in the afternoon is ideal.

Adequate humidity and good drainage-your planting location should provide the right balance between humidity and aeration. If the soil is very heavy or heavily compacted, the roots of your plants are more predisposed to rot and die. And in soils that drain much too quickly, thirsty roots can become too dry. A soil rich in organic matter will retain humanity and allow oxygen to reach the roots of plants.

Soil pH – the pH of your soil can affect the color of your hydrangea flowers. White-flowered hydrangeas look best in pH-neutral soil. If you have a naturally acidic soil, hydrangea varieties with pink flowers will thrive. If, on the other hand, your soil is more alkaline, blue-flowered hydrangeas are at their best. You can check the pH of your soil with a pH tester and adjust the pH levels as needed with soil improvements such as sulfur or lime.

Shelter-some of the larger hydrangea varieties are susceptible to wind damage. For additional protection, consider planting them near the foundation of a building, a solid garden wall or a fence.

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