Ahh hydrangeas, how I love thee! There’s something so dramatic about a yard full of the fluffy, brightly colored blooms and no one grows better hydrangeas than my mom. She has blue, pink, white, and green hydrangeas at the lake house and I marvel at them year after year. All of the photos in this post are from her lakeside garden in east Texas. If you follow me on Instagram, you frequently see these show-stopping blooms!
Hydrangeas grow best in zones 5-9. There are dozens of varieties to choose from. They get quite tall and wide, filling in borders and beds in just a couple of years. Hydrangeas are very hardy and low maintenance once established. Location really is the most important component. Like my mom always says with plants, “Location, location, location!” Gardeners put so much stock in watering and fertilizing but if your plant is in the wrong place (such as a rose in the shade), it will never thrive.
Where to Plant
Fall is the best time to plant them, so they have the maximum amount of time to establish roots before heat and drought hits, but they can also be planted in the spring. The best place in your garden to plant hydrangeas is a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade. They love dappled shade, but not full shade and they definitely do not like full sun. Pick a spot with good drainage, as they do not like to have wet feet. My mom’s hydrangeas are in a high raised bed on the northeast side of the house.
Hydrangeas do best in places with acidic soil, which is why they’re so happy in my mom’s garden in east Texas. You can amend your soil accordingly to grow hydrangeas. Feed annually with an acidic fertilizer. They thrive with lots of organic material in the soil. Amend soil with peat moss and compost.
Hydrangeas are incredibly low maintenance once they’re established and don’t need pruning. Just remove deadwood occasionally. Flowers won’t bud on new wood so if you pruned them every year, you’d never have blooms!
Give hydrangeas plenty of water in the morning, about an inch per week. Set a hose at the base of hydrangeas a few times a week to encourage deep roots the first growing season.
Hydrangeas make an excellent cutting flower. Blooms last for ages in the vase! My mom is so kind to lake house guests, often letting them take a hydrangea bouquet home with them. They also dry successfully if you like dried flowers.
One crazy thing about bigleaf hydrangeas is that they can change color based on the soil pH level. Is it rare to see a bunch of hydrangeas in a row that are different colors like my mom’s? Yes, it is. But not all hydrangeas change color (not all are bigleaf!) so it is possible.
From left to right, my mom grows: Blushing Bride, Endless Summer, and Forever & Ever. The later sometimes has white blooms and sometimes has green blooms. Crazy, right?
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