Paniculata fertilizer question

Ruth_MI(z5MI)April 17, 2013

For those with a lot of hydrangea experience, what do you recommend as far as fertilizing paniculatas? I have a lot of Limelights, and some have never been fertilized. They seem to do well, but would they do better with fertilizer?

From the Proven Winners site: "Fertilize in early spring by applying a slow release fertilizer specialized for trees and shrubs."

I would have thought regular tree and shrub fertilizer would have too much nitrogen for such a heavy bloomer.

Also, I've seen statements here that hydrangeas prefer a more acidic soil. I always thought that was only if you had a mac that you wanted to be more on the purple/blue side. Do all hydrangeas like the soil more acidic, even paniculatas?

Thanks for any insights you can provide!

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Yes, all hydrangeas like acidic soil. They will tolerate some alkalinity but after a certain point, when the alkalinity gets high enough, the shrub will have difficulty absorbing iron from the soil via the roots and the leaves will develop signs of iron chlorosis: the normally dark green leaves become light green/bronze/yellow while the leaf veins remain dark green.

A soil test should also be done every 5-10 years so you can check how the soil is doing with regards to minerals like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc. Since hydrangeas do not tend to respond to fertilizers like roses do (with lots and lots of growth), there is no need to apply extra fertilizers. As a matter of fact, if your existing fertilizer regimen is working and a soil test shows all is fine (no excessive or defficient amounts of minerals) then continue doing what you are doing.

Hydrangeas can be fertilized once a year in Spring using organic fertilizers like cottonseed meal, compost or composted manure. A 1/2 to 1 cup should be fine for a newly planted hydrangea. You can also use a general-purpose slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote 10-10-10 per label directions. You should also maintain 3-4" of organic mulch throughout the year. During the growing season, you can also add some "weak" fertilizers like coffee grounds, liquid seaweed and liquid fish.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 10:03PM
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Ruth_MI(z5MI)

Thanks, Luis, I appreciate the input.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 5:38PM
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