Hydrangeas are one of the top favorites among gardeners, however they aren’t easy to grow. Although hydrangeas are resistant to many diseases and pests, there are particular rules that you should follow when trying to grow this flower. There are multiple varieties of hydrangeas to choose from and each one has its own planting and growing requirements.
When you’re new to growing hydrangeas, you might ask dozens of questions like, “Where do hydrangeas grow best?” or “How do you keep hydrangeas blooming?”
Hydrangeas grow best in well-drained, moist soil with a healthy balance of sun and shade. They require proper watering, avoiding their leaves/blooms. Hydrangeas typically bloom in summer, although there are varieties that also bloom in late spring and early autumn.
Below is a detailed beginner’s guide to growing hydrangeas regardless of the variety you choose.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are the Best Hydrangeas Varieties?
- 2 Where Do Hydrangeas Grow Best?
- 3 6 Tips for Improving Hydrangea Growth
- 4 Growing Hydrangeas FAQs
- 4.1 What are the types of hydrangeas?
- 4.2 What side of the house should you plant hydrangeas?
- 4.3 How much sun do hydrangeas need?
- 4.4 Can hydrangeas grow in full shade?
- 4.5 What kind of soil do hydrangeas like?
- 4.6 Do hydrangeas make great potted plants?
- 4.7 When should hydrangeas be pruned?
- 4.8 Is it possible to save a struggling hydrangea?
- 4.9 Are hydrangeas toxic?
- 5 Final Thoughts
What Are the Best Hydrangeas Varieties?
You can never go wrong with hydrangeas as all varieties are eye-catching. However, each type has its own planting and growing requirements. The following hydrangeas varieties are common and worth incorporating into your garden:
1. Climbing Hydrangea
The white clusters of flowers with heart-shaped leaves make Climbing Hydrangea an excellent choice for backyards. This flower climbs high and grows best in both shade and sun.
2. Limelight Hydrangea
This variety is known for its pistachio-colored blooms. Limelight Hydrangea changes its blooms to blush and a deep pink when autumn comes. You might need to prune it for a neater look.
3. Invincibelle Ruby
Looking for a vibrant bloom in your garden? Invincibelle Ruby boasts ruby red buds, which turn into lighter pink flowers when opened. The flowers have deep edges and the leaves are deep green. This type of hydrangea best grows in places that receive at least 6 hours of sunrays.
4. Incrediball Hydrangea
Known for its incredibly wide blooms, Incrediball Hydrangea is often used in flower arrangements thanks to its sturdy stems.
5. Gatsby Pink
This type of hydrangea starts blooming a pure white and then begin to bloom a vibrant pink. The leaves are deep green but can turn into a deep merlot in autumn.
6. Gatsby Moon
Gatsby Moon is notable for its full, conical bloom. It’s native oakleaf hydrangea that tolerates full sun and shade for more than 4 hours.
7. Tuff Stuff
Unless you live in northern zones, consider growing Tuff Stuff hydrangeas. They look like water lilies and have pink or blue double blooms. Tuff Stuff easily reblooms and requires little care.
8. Zinfin Doll
The bigleaf mophead, Zinfin Doll, is among the first hydrangeas to bloom, making it an excellent addition to any garden. They start blooming pure white and turn bright pink as they start aging. Zinfin Doll hydrangeas are often used in flower arrangements and bouquets thanks to their strong stems.
9. Cityline Mars
Cityline Mars boasts variegated petals and grows best in sunny and partly sunny places. They usually bloom pink or blue in acidic soils. Pruning isn’t required as it’s a dwarf hydrangea variety.
Where Do Hydrangeas Grow Best?
Hydrangeas in full bloom are beautifully lush shrubs that require little care. However, it’s important to plant this flower in the right place. Hydrangeas can thrive in different climates and conditions. It depends on the variety you’re going to grow.
One of the biggest misconceptions about hydrangeas is that they prefer shade rather than the sun. Even though hydrangeas do love afternoon shade, they require several hours of sun to successfully thrive. Regardless of the climate, it’s important to keep hydrangeas well-watered.
Most spices of hydrangeas tend to bloom in part shade. However, there are a few varieties that can successfully bloom in full sun or full shade. Some types of hydrangeas can handle more sun in areas further north while others need several hours of morning sunlight further south.
Limelight and QuickFire are among the most common varieties of hydrangeas that can grow and bloom in full sun. Oakleaf hydrangeas, Light-O-Day, and Jetstream easily tolerate mostly shade conditions. Annabelle hydrangeas and panicle hydrangeas are the most cold-tolerant varieties. Strawberry Sundae has creamy white flowers, which turn pink or red when the temperature drops.
Cherry Explosion and Tiny Tuff Stuff are best for small spaces while Gatsby Pink and Fire Light grow best in large spaces and hedges. While all hydrangeas boast lots of gorgeous flowers, certain varieties outdo themselves by showing massive blooms. If you’re looking to grow Incrediball or Pinky Winky, keep in mind that they grow best in extremely huge spaces.
6 Tips for Improving Hydrangea Growth
Planting hydrangeas doesn’t guarantee that they will successfully grow. There are several tips to follow in order to enhance their growth:
1. Encourage root growth
Filtered water at a rate of an inch per week during the growing season might encourage. It’s recommended to deeply water hydrangeas 2 to 3 times a week. Smooth and bigleaf hydrangeas need more water, although all types require proper, regular watering. Grab a soaker hose to water the soil, keeping moisture off the leaves and flowers. It’s best to water in the morning to ward off wilting during hot days.
2. Use fertilizer
Every type of hydrangea has its own needs when it comes to fertilizer. Plus, every variety requires particular application timing. A soil test is an effective way to identify your fertility needs. Smooth hydrangea varieties require fertilization in late winter only while bigleaf hydrangeas need a few light fertilizations in March, May, and early June. Panicle and oakleaf hydrangeas need 2 applications in April and June.
3. Consider mulch
Placing mulch underneath hydrangeas will keep the soil cool and moist, promoting healthy growth. Opt for organic mulch that tends to break down over time. Organic mulch improves soil texture and adds nutrients. It can even help survive a struggling hydrangea.
4. Use cultivars with resistant traits
Using cultivars with resistant traits will ward off pests and diseases and encourage growth. Pests usually appear when the plant gets stressed, so taking good care of your hydrangeas is one effective preventive method.
5. Monitor humidity and temperature
Hydrangeas grow best at relatively mild temperatures. Cold temperatures and winds can ruin the plant. You can protect your hydrangeas by planting them in a place with a burlap frame or windscreen loaded with dry leaves.
An east- or north-facing place with relatively constant temperatures is a better planting option than a place on the west or south side of a home, which usually heats up in the winter sun, making buds more sensitive and exposed to cold snaps. Hydrangeas thrive in moderate to high humidity. They rarely tolerate dry climates.
Not all types and varieties of hydrangeas need pruning. If you want to make your hydrangeas look compact or neat, keeping them from flopping over, consider removing the older canes as soon as the flowers fade. This will prevent crowding and promote better growth.
Spring pruning is needed when cold weather kills the tips of the plant’s branches. It’s crucial to remove the dead wood and cut back the stems to a set of healthy buds. In case you have a well-established plant, you can take out a few of the older stems for better blooming. Removing all the buds can result in the absence of blooms during the season, though.
Growing Hydrangeas FAQs
What are the types of hydrangeas?
There are 4 types of hydrangeas: smooth, panicle, bigleaf, and oakleaf. Also called snowballs, smooth hydrangeas thrive in cold climates. Panicle hydrangeas are easy to grow and they require less care. Bigleaf hydrangeas are widely grown and there are several varieties to grow. Oakleaf hydrangeas grow in warm places and can even tolerate the heat of summer.
What side of the house should you plant hydrangeas?
Depending on the type of hydrangeas, it’s best to plant them on the side of the house that has an adequate combination of shade and light. If more sunlight comes through the left side of your house, prepare the soil for hydrangeas there.
Most varieties of hydrangeas successfully grow in the center of a garden. Be sure you plant hydrangeas near some bushes and trees to provide enough shade. Hydrangeas can thrive in front of the house, but an east-facing garden for at least one hydrangea bush.
The Camellia Japonica and Rhododendron Ferrugineum are varieties that have deep pink blooms on a dark green backdrop. They grow well with morning sun and then afternoon shade.
How much sun do hydrangeas need?
The daily average amount of sunlight for most hydrangeas is 6 hours, although hydrangeas planted in the south tend to grow with just 3 hours of sunlight. While the majority of hydrangeas varieties love only morning sun, the panicle hydrangea is one variety that soaks up the sun all day long. It’s the hardiest type of hydrangeas and it can also thrive in partial shade.
Can hydrangeas grow in full shade?
If your garden receives little to no sun exposure, planting hydrangeas may be a headache. There’s only one variety of hydrangeas that can tolerate full shade – the climbing hydrangea. Other varieties need at least a few hours of full or partial sun to grow and bloom.
What kind of soil do hydrangeas like?
Hydrangeas can grow in different types of soils. Like most plants, hydrangeas grow and bloom best in well-drained soils. Heavy clay soils, which keep water, might ruin the hydrangea plant fast. When choosing soil for your hydrangeas, look for the one that’s well-drained and fertile.
Do hydrangeas make great potted plants?
Growing flowers in pots is a smart option for limited spaces. When it comes to hydrangeas, you might need a lot of effort and patience to achieve success. The potted hydrangeas given as gifts create an eye-catching look in the garden but they usually last only a couple of weeks. Most hydrangeas varieties aren’t good container plants.
When should hydrangeas be pruned?
Some types of hydrangeas require pruning. When should you do it? It’s recommended to prune hydrangeas in summer as soon as flowering stops. There’s an increased risk of cutting off new buds if you prune your hydrangeas in spring, fall, or winter. Pruning the branches of hydrangeas as leaves begin to emerge in spring might result in multiple little flower heads instead of fewer larger ones.
Is it possible to save a struggling hydrangea?
With proper care, it’s possible to save a struggling hydrangea. First of all, it’s vital to provide the ideal combination of sun and shade. The plant should receive sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Secondly, place a layer of mulch around a struggling hydrangea to maintain the soil moist.
Are hydrangeas toxic?
Cyanogenic glycosides found in hydrangeas are toxic to animals and people when ingested. The higher concentrations of this toxic compound are in the flowers, buds, and leaves.
The planting process plays a critical role in how successfully hydrangeas will grow. It’s not about healthy soil and timing, only. Location is one of the major factors that determine hydrangeas’ growth.
Hydrangeas grow best in places where there’s an ideal mix of sun rays and shade. Only one variety of hydrangeas can grow in full shade and a few varieties can thrive in full sun. Consider all pros and cons before you start growing hydrangeas in your garden.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.