Do my hydregenas need acid for their soil

barbie26May 21, 2007

I am a newbie here and to gardening so to speak. I can grow basic flowers. Sorry off topic. I heard from a few people that my hydregenas need acid in it's soil. I live in Garland,Tx & when I planted it-it looked great but now it's starting to wither. Is the reason due to too much sun? or not enough acid in the soil or both? Not sure what type I have. It just says assorted

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Yes and no, you can grow hydrangeas in our Dallas/Fort Worth alkaline soil. I live in Hurst, just west of D/FW Airport, and planted mine with organic compost mixed with the local soil. I also add ammendments once a year to keep the alkalinity from getting too high. By the way, "assorted" hydrangeas generally are macrophyllas.

Otherwise, hydrangea leaves develop iron chlorosis (the leaves turn yellow except for the leaf veins which remain green). Adding iron chelated liquid products or acidifying the soil with Hi-Yield Soil Sulphur, ammonium sulphate or aluminum sulphate (if you do not have azaleas) will also work. You can get these products at Calloway's, The Plant Shade, Redentas, Blooming Colors, Monday Landscape, HD Landscape, etc

Some acidity is also needed to change the color of pink/blue macrophyllas but that is a difficult thing to do and monitor. Whites, of course, will not change color. Most colored hydrangeas will be pink here due to our alkalinity. Purchased blue/purple, they will revert to a shade of pink in time.

The withering problem is an indication that (1) summer is approaching and our temperatures have reached into the mid to high 80s some days and (2) more water will be needed as June aproaches.

Make sure that the plant has 3-4 inches of mulch past the drip line. Also make sure that it gets dappled shade (3-4 hours of sun) and is not planted in a windy location. Plants that get sun after 10-11am will show signs of sun burn.

About 1 gallon of water twice a week is ok in spring but make it three days a week as summer arrives. Because you are not used to the watering requirements of hydrangeas, I suggest that you check it daily for 2-3 weeks until you see a pattern developing.

Insert a finger to a depth of 3-4 inches. If it feels wet, the plant is getting too much water (this can cause root rot and fungal infections in the leaves). If the soil feels moist, take no action. If it feels dry or almost dry then water. As soon as you notice how often you are having to water, you can continue watering every "x" days. If you hear of a wind advisory during summer, water the night before if you can; wind causes unexpected wilting here in July and August.

Wilting is a fact of life here for large leaf plants here in the summer. However, watered well, the plants recover on their own by bed time or next morning. I keep an eye on them daily as soon as we get into the mid 90s to 110s. If the plant looks VERY wilted, I water immediately; otherwise I wait... I increase the amount of water on a regular basis (to three days a week) when wilting persists past next morning or when plants show to be in VERY wilted conditions when I get home in the afternoons. This is where checking manually with a finger helps prevent watering too much.

In the fall, reduce the amnount of water. And since the ground here does not freeze, remember to water during winter too. The plant will be semi-dormant and drop leaves but I still water them 1/2 gallon to 1 gallon weekly during those times.

Sunscald is easy to identify & indicates that the plant is getting too much sun. You will notice the leaves in direct contact with the sun turning yellowish and later, affected areas dry/brown out.

Fertilize in May and July with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cottonseed meal. If you have to prune, do it before July as flower buds for 2008 will begin developing then and you do not want to cut them off.

Good luck barbie26,

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 5:06AM
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Water, water, water as Luis advises. Even up here, in the non-too-hot North East, hydrangeas will wilt if not watered deeply at least once a week (or more if no natural moisture falls).

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 10:21AM
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I dont know what Im doing and Ive asked several friends that are gardners, but this blue hydrangea was a small established plant in the ground and had blooms when I received it. Ive had it for serveral years and has beautiful foliage but never blooms, I did plant it in an area of acidic soil. What am I doing wrong. I just was informed that it should be watered frequently and this I have not done, could this be my problem?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 10:01AM
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