Hydrangea 101: Your Guide to Caring and Maintaining Beautiful Blooms

Photography by John O'Hagan

Text by Hannah Jones

Hydrangeas are some of the most beautiful and practical shrubs you can have in your garden. They not only provide gorgeous greenery but also burst with colorful blooms throughout the summer. They’re easy to care for and grow fairly quickly, so they’re perfect for novice gardeners. But, like any flora, they do require a little know-how when it comes to planting and maintenance. Below, we’re giving you the 101 on how to help these beauties flourish in your garden!

Photography by Mac Jamieson

The first step to caring for your hydrangeas is knowing which variety you have. French hydrangea is the most common variety and has blooms in different colors like pink, blue, and white which may change colors depending on the acidity of the soil. You could also see this variety listed as Mophead, Bigleaf, or Endless Summer. Another common variety is the Panicle hydrangea that features a cone-shape flower and is typically more durable and longer lasting than its French-dubbed counterpart. You might also be familiar with Smooth hydrangeas, which flower in a ball shape and are also known as Annabelle hydrangeas. Oakleaf and climbing hydrangeas are two more relatively common varieties, but they’re not as prevalent as French, Panicle, and Smooth.

Photography by William Dickey

Once you’ve identified what type of hydrangea you have or need, then you can decide where to plant it. French, Smooth, and Panicle varieties do best in full- to part-shade environments. Morning sun is best, and keeping your hydrangeas well-watered is absolutely essential. They’re called hydrangeas for a reason! However, it is important that your soil drains well. Root rot is a prevalent disease in hydrangeas.

Photography by Rob Cardillo

Overall, hydrangeas are a pretty durable species of plant and can survive most climates, but the French hydrangea is the most adaptable. Smooth and Panicle hydrangeas work well in more mild climates, whereas French hydrangeas can survive in hotter temperatures when watered consistently.

Photography by Jim Bathie

Bloom time varies with the different varieties in different climates, but you can usually expect to see flowers from late spring to early fall. These beauties will give your garden gorgeous color throughout the seasons!

Photography by Mac Jamieson

You can deadhead your hydrangeas throughout the season, and honestly, why wouldn’t you want to? Those beautiful blooms will look gorgeous arranged in a vase in your home, and the shrub will continue flowering.

Photography by Jim Bathie

Typically, hydrangeas don’t need heavy pruning, just the occasional removal of dead wood. However, some gardeners choose to prune their Smooth and Panicle hydrangeas every few seasons. And there you have it! Now, you are ready to get planting those beautiful blooms!

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