Myth #1: All Hydrangeas Need Pruning
Fact: Pruning Depends on the Type of Hydrangea
Panicle and Woodland Hydrangea
If you must cut, take out every third stem of your woodland plants. Cut the rest of the stems down by about 1/3 (if at all) to leave a framework to support the flower-bearing stems.
Big Leaf, Mountain, Oak Leaf & Climbing Hydrangeas
Don’t prune until you see those little heads of broccoli that tell you where the flowers will be. Any premature cutting you do now risks losing those flowers. These hydrangeas require very little pruning and bloom on growth from current and previous years, thus too much pruning removes potential blooms.
Myth #2: Home Remedies Added To Your Soil Can Change Flower Color
Fact: It’s Not That Easy to Change the Color of Hydrangeas
If you want to change the color of your flowers, first be certain that a color change is possible. Only two hydrangea types undergo significant color changes depending on the soil: Bigleaf and the less common Mountain hydrangeas. Then get your soil tested to verify what it does and doesn’t need for the best plant performance.
If that test shows the pH is above 6.5 and your plant can change color from pink to blue, add aluminum sulfate to the soil. This will lower the pH so the plant can take up the aluminum which is what turns the flowers blue. Know that it takes the plant time to absorb and move these nutrients. So your best bet is to do this in the fall to allow the plant the time it needs to work this magic. Also, know that your soil will always revert to its natural state so this is not a “one and done” chore.
Myth #3: 10-10-10 Fertilizer is the Best for Hydrangeas
Fact: Shrub or Rose Fertilizer is Best for Hydrangeas
Your best bet is a granular fertilizer formulated for shrubs or one that is a slow-release product. Rose food is ideal. For reblooming hydrangeas, it is recommended to fertilizer two times a year, in the spring and summer to help the later blooms.
Myth #4: Hydrangeas Need Lots of Water
Fact: You Can Overwater Your Hydrangeas
If your plants don’t perk up after they have been out of the sun for several hours, then by all means give them a drink. But then you must also determine why they aren’t recovering. Do they need mulch? Is your soil too sandy and drains too well? Compost can fix that. Or maybe you are in a drought situation. So watch your plant, get a rain gauge, maybe change your watering habits, learn, and adjust.
What are you risking with too much water? For one, you can smother the roots which will kill the plant. Oakleaf hydrangeas are especially susceptible to that. Or you can encourage your plant to make more leaves instead of flowers. Hydrangeas love to do that as it is an easier task for the plant.
Do You Have A Hydrangea Myth You Would Like Busted?
Written By: Lorraine Ballato
Author of: Success With Hydrangeas: A Gardener’s Guide
Learn more about Hydrangeas at…
- Year of the Hydrangea
- Blooming Hydrangeas Guaranteed!
- Hydrangea Danger Zone
- Preparing Your Hydrangeas for Winter
- Hydrangea Check-Up Time
- Hydrangea Pruning on Your Mind
- The Best Time to Prune Your Hydrangea
- Ask The Experts about Hydrangea Webinar
- Shrubs for Cutting Gardens: Roses, Hydrangeas, and Other Long-Lasting Flowers
“This post is provided as an educational/inspirational service of the National Garden Bureau and our members. Please credit and link to National Garden Bureau and author member when using all or parts of this article.”
Great info, well presented. These myths contribute to many hydrangea disappointments. Let’s get them busted!