I love hydrangea. This praying mantis in my garden seems to love them, too. But I find it challenging to grow hydrangea here in south central Virginia. Too much heat, not enough rain...sometimes they seem fussier than roses.
For those looking for a quick primer on hydrangea care, I've included tips derived from a great Cooperative Extension publication. Virginia Tech offers a free download called Hydrangea Selection, Pruning and Care that was very helpful to me as I struggled to figure out why the leaves on my hydrangea are turning black (probably over-eagerness to fertilize on my part) and why the color changed on one plant. It's definitely worth downloading if you love hydrangeas.
A few notes on hydrangea care from our friends over at Virginia Tech: (These tips apply to Big Leaf Hydrangea, which is what you normally see blooming in people's front yards at this time of year or so.)
- No flowers? Don't prune your shrubs late in the season. Hydrangeas bloom on last year's woody stems. Prune older stems in late June or early July and don't prune too much away. You can also prune in late winter if you missed your opportunity in the summertime.
- You can influence the color of the blossoms by changing the soil pH. A drench with an aluminum sulfate mixture (see the link above) changes the color to blue. Hydrated lime mixed with water changes it to pink. Please be sure to read the Virginia Teach pamphlet for the correct proportions of solution to water.
- Hydrangea thrive in rich, moist and well-drained soil. If they are struggling, have your soil checked. It could be too dense to allow for drainage. Our local clay soils may need amendments before hydrangea find them acceptable.
Hydrangea are beautiful landscape plants and a treasure in the garden. Here's to a beautiful bloom this year and more!