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7 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Hydrangeas—and How to Avoid Them

Hydrangeas are stunning plants that can add vibrant color to any garden, but they require proper care to thrive. Here are seven common mistakes people make with their hydrangeas and tips on how to avoid them.

1. Planting in the Wrong Location

Mistake:

Planting hydrangeas in an area that receives too much direct sunlight or is too shaded can hinder their growth and blooming.

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How to Avoid:

Choose a location with morning sun and afternoon shade. Hydrangeas generally prefer partial shade, although Panicle Hydrangeas can tolerate more sun.

2. Incorrect Watering

Mistake:

Overwatering or underwatering your hydrangeas can lead to various problems, including root rot and poor bloom production.

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How to Avoid:

Water deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions. Ensure the soil is well-drained to prevent root rot. Applying mulch around the base can help retain moisture.

3. Ignoring Soil pH

Mistake:

Not paying attention to soil pH can affect the color of your hydrangea blooms, especially for Bigleaf Hydrangeas.

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How to Avoid:

Test your soil pH and adjust accordingly. To turn blooms blue, add aluminum sulfate. To turn them pink, add lime to the soil.

4. Improper Pruning

Mistake:

Pruning hydrangeas at the wrong time or in the wrong way can lead to reduced blooms and unhealthy plants.

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How to Avoid:

  • Bigleaf and Oakleaf Hydrangeas: Prune after flowering in late summer. Remove spent blooms and thin out old stems.
  • Panicle and Smooth Hydrangeas: Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Cut back stems to a healthy bud.

5. Not Fertilizing Properly

Mistake:

Using the wrong type of fertilizer or applying it at the wrong time can affect hydrangea growth and blooming.

How to Avoid:

Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer (10-10-10) in early spring as new growth begins. Apply a second round of fertilizer in mid-summer to extend blooming.

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6. Overlooking Pests and Diseases

Mistake:

Failing to monitor and treat pests and diseases can cause significant damage to your hydrangeas.

How to Avoid:

Regularly inspect your plants for pests and diseases. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil for aphids and spider mites. For powdery mildew, improve air circulation and apply fungicides.

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7. Neglecting Winter Protection

Mistake:

Not protecting your hydrangeas from harsh winter conditions can lead to damage or death of the plants.

How to Avoid:

  • Cold-Hardy Varieties: Panicle and Smooth Hydrangeas need minimal protection.
  • Sensitive Varieties: Mulch heavily around the base of Bigleaf and Oakleaf Hydrangeas and cover with burlap or frost cloth in severe cold.

Conclusion

Avoiding these common mistakes can help you cultivate healthy, vibrant hydrangeas that will enhance the beauty of your garden. By choosing the right location, watering correctly, paying attention to soil pH, pruning properly, fertilizing adequately, monitoring for pests and diseases, and protecting your hydrangeas during winter, you can enjoy stunning blooms year after year.

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FAQs

How can I prevent root rot in my hydrangeas? Ensure the soil is well-drained and avoid overwatering. Adding mulch around the base can help retain moisture without causing waterlogging.

What is the best time to prune my hydrangeas? Pruning time depends on the variety. Bigleaf and Oakleaf Hydrangeas should be pruned after flowering, while Panicle and Smooth Hydrangeas are best pruned in late winter or early spring.

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How do I change the color of my hydrangea blooms? Adjust the soil pH to change bloom color. Adding aluminum sulfate turns blooms blue, while adding lime turns them pink.

What should I do if my hydrangeas get powdery mildew? Improve air circulation around the plants and apply fungicides to control powdery mildew. Avoid overhead watering and remove affected leaves.

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Can hydrangeas grow in full sun? Most hydrangeas prefer partial shade, but Panicle Hydrangeas can tolerate more sun. Choose the right variety for your garden conditions.

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