Hydrangea Questions

kathgraceApril 15, 2009

I have several Hydrangea shrubs (small) I purchased from HD several years ago. They have been moved into a more appropriate location that provides necessary shade. Beyond this, I've done nothing to help them and don't know how to properly care for them.

- Do I trim back the wood? If so, When?

- What do you plant with is so come winter when they doe back the area doesn't look so awful?

- What else do I need to know? ; )

Thanks for your help!

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You probably have Hydrangea macrophylla (big leaf hydrangea or mophead hydrangea) which blooms in pink or blue. It is important to understand what kind of hydrangea you have because pruning them can be different based on the type. I'm attaching a link that you may find helpful.

If you have mopheads, they bloom on OLD wood, so you should only prune them after they have leafed out in the spring (to get rid of any dead wood) or right after they bloom (to control shape/size). Otherwise, if you prune in the early in the spring, you'll cut off the flower buds.

Hydrangeas are "deciduous" plants, meaning they lose their leaves. Mixing deciduous plants with some evergreen plants helps lessen the "awfulness" of bare limbs in the winter. Evergreen shrubs (that like shade) include Mountain Laurel, Japanese Pieris, Hollies, Boxwood, Florida Anise, and Gardenia.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pruning hydrangeas

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 4:18PM
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Well, Here is how I take care of hydrangias.

About this time of your I cut the dead soots and dead parts of the shoots. I also cut way down some of them to give them room to air and breath. I keep the real good ones and cut out the smaller one. This way they bloom and grow better.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 7:39PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I just let the late frost kill them down to the ground and then let them grow again :))))

Seriously, I leave the blooms on in fall, they look fine as dried flowers all winter long. I don't cut them off until I see the new growth coming in. Of course a week after I did this, the top 18 inches was zapped by the late freeze. Oh well.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 9:43PM
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You bring up a very good point I ought have considered. What kind is it? I will look in the morning to see if any of the signage still exists. The storm this past week really stirred everything up in the yard. As soon as I ID, I'll be back! Planting with Gardenia is a great idea - I have several on the side of my home that need to be moved - the sun is too strong for them there. Some are quite dense and my fear of damaging them in an effort to transplant has stalled me.

Cyrus_gardner and Buford, Thank you as well. You bring up another point I hadn't yet considered. In all these years, they grew green leaves but never bloomed!

I know they need some food/fertilizer. I will do some research.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 10:50PM
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Can hydrangeas grow in the full sun? I have seen some growing in full sun. Help.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 1:40AM
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The ones that can handle more sun - and even those would probably like some shade in the hottest part of the afternoon in zone 8 - are Hydrangea paniculata. These bloom white and they usually bloom in summer (later than the others). Some of the common names associated with this kind are 'Grandiflora', 'Limelight', 'Tardiva', 'Pink Diamond' - and one common name is "PeeGee", which came from a shortening of H. paniculata 'Grandiflora'.

There are two other common types of Hydrangea: Hydrangea arborescens ('Annabelle' is popular) and Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea). These last two hydrangeas are the native ones and very beautiful in their own right. They need afternoon shade.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hydrangea paniculata

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 6:30AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

some other things i've learned that folks haven't brought up, all of which i believe to be true:

- don't trim back 'old wood' that's alive. to tell if the wood is alive on any perrennial plant, you can usually scratch the surface. if it's green/white and firm to the touch, the wood is still alive.

- most hydrangeas that aren't 'repeat bloom' require 'old wood' from the year before to produce blooms. for this reason, you shouldn't necessarily trim down to the ground every year. i wouldn't trim to the ground either way.

- good way to tell if you have 'repeat bloom' is to look for blooms on new growth. i have rarely ever seen a 'classic' hydrangea put out a bloom on new shoots unless it was a 'repeat bloom'. there are a lot of crazy new varieties out in the last 4-5 years (especially those from McCorkle Nurseries)

- soil pH defines the color of the bloom, with acidic being pinker, and basic being bluer. you can change the pH of the soil using additives (powders) in and around the soil. this can take several years.

- big-leaf (big ball flower) hydrangeas you find all over nearby stores CAN handle sun, but you're probably going to see the leaves wilt when it gets really hot (direct sun/high heat) in the 1st and 2nd year of growth, and if not properly tended to, they're gonna croak or look like crap. i found watering them with cool hose water when the mid-day sun isn't directly hitting them (in the evening, etc.) seems to help. once well established, after a couple of years, they CAN handle sun. it helps to work them into it, though. we got lucky with many of ours, the sun takes slightly different east->west paths every year, so ours are getting various amounts of direct, full sun every year. last year was really bad (2nd year and 3rd year, respectively), and a couple of them i was certain would die. we made out fairly well, though.

again, this is only based on personal experience and some opinion. YMMV

regardless of what a label on a plant says, a lot of times, plants WILL grow and thrive in environments OTHER than what the tag tells you. the key is, you gotta be hardheaded enough to ignore the tag =)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 12:32PM
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Except for the newer cultivars like 'Endless Summer', H. macrophylla blooms on "old" wood. H. quercifolia blooms on old wood.

H. arborescens blooms on old and new wood ('Annabelle'). H. paniculata blooms on new wood.

That is why is always important to determine which type of hydrangea you have before you prune!

And almost any plant can handle more sun when adequate water is given to compensate. H. macrophylla really do appreciate "afternoon shade" in the Atlanta area, even if they get 6-7 hours of morning sun (which is defined as "full sun" by the way). There is a difference between total hours of sun and the time of day that sun is received!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 1:00PM
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This is a really helpful thread! I have left my hydrangeas alone so far for fear of pruning at the wrong time. Now i know what to do if i need to prune.

I'm attempting a hydrangea bed at the shady side of our house. In addition to the suggestions above, these are some other evergreen plants to combine with for some winter green:

Shrubs -- leucothoe, rhododendrons, illicium parviflorum (yellow anise), Daphne

Low evergreen perennials in front of hyds -- tiarella, cranesbill geranium cantabrigiense (mostly evergreen), bergenia, pulmonaria, hellebores, heuchera

I saw the beautiful photos linked below on GW some time ago and decided i wanted a hydrangea bed. Mine has a very long way to go before it looks anything like this!

Here is a link that might be useful: hydrangea garden

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 2:09PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

so glad you included tiarella in that list. i have a hybrid i picked up @ Habershams last year and it's magnificent right now :) beautful white and pink blooms, and it's loaded.

you know what's cool? my heuchera 'silver scrolls' or 'coral bells' or whatever....has been multiplying. i found two new plnts this year, and moved them around - can't wait till they get as big as the others. they apparently spread by seed via pollenation? i have a few close together back in the back and that's where they've popped up. i love free plants :)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 12:01AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

My hydrangeas will wilt when they are exposed to a lot of afternoon sun in the middle of the summer,especially during the drought. But I think hydrangeas need some sun to bloom well. Full shade isn't good for them.

Also, some hydrangeas take a year or two to bloom, if you get them when they are very small. Usually not the ones you get from Home depot, but I bought a very nice hydrangea from hydrangeas plus a few years ago and it didn't bloom for the first 3 years, but now it's beautiful.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 8:33AM
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