conditions for hydrangea

covellaOctober 17, 2008

Explain something to me - what pH or conditions do hydrangeas like? I have a large H by my driveway in a dry , alkaline location with a lot of underlying limestone from the driveway bed. For several yrs it's look weak, then this yr, when we had at least a month long drought, it has looked great throwing out a ton of leaves. The deer browse it every winter and I was going to dig it out this summer but left it alone because it looked just fine - even putting enormous flowers out from twigs the deer missed.

I'm transplanting another huge hydrangea into an area with more sun but the soil is very heavy clay and even with amendment it will be heavy. Is it going to like that?

Since azaleas, pulmonaria, ferns and hosta are so happy there, I'm pretty sure the soil leans to the acid altho I haven't tested it.

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Hydrangeas thrive in moist, well-mulched, acidic soil that drains well. They tolerate alkaline clay soils like mine but require some ammending with sulphur or aluminum sulphate in Spring. The locations that these plants were placed in my garden by the previous owner do not include low spots in the garden were water can accumulate. New hydrangeas were planted using existing soil mixed with 50% compost. Because clay soil tends to drain poorly, I try to water only when the soil feels almost dry at a depth of 4" or more. If you are worried, you can try a raised bed. I would mix the soil below the bed with compost and use only acidic soil in the raised bed.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 7:24AM
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Thanks Louis. I won't have to treat for acidity because we are in a hardwood forest area that is naturally acidic. Its the clay and light exposure. I had the County Extension Agent out twice because of our heavy clay soil. I'd never seen blue clay that smelled because it was so dense! However its great as an base to raised beds because they don't dry out as fast.

I inherited all my hydrangeas and had always avoided them because of deer browse. They are too big to keep up with the spraying, but now I've moved one inside a walkway by the house and I guess I'll break down and wrap the other one for the winter to see if we can find out what a hydrangea is really supposed to look like minus the deer browse. The former owner of this property had more extra time for wrapping the 45+ shrubs she planted that are all susceptible to deer. I can't cope with that and don't want to look at all that burlap all winter - must have been a sight.

Did FW survive Ike intact?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 9:07AM
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