June is moments away, which means that Hydrangea season is upon us! These much-loved plants produce massive blooms that are as ideal for landscaping as they are for a cut flower display in a vase on your dining table.
Usually, Hydrangeas are very easy to care for. But there are a few mistakes you can make that might hinder your Hydrangea plant’s performance. Before I move onto that, here’s a Hydrangea that suits any size of garden, doesn’t need staking and flowers all season long:
Hydrangea Hi-Fire – a compact purple-flowered charmer
Hydrangeas are highly coveted – but they can take up a lot of space. For those with small gardens, a large Hydrangea bush isn’t the most convenient option. But don’t fret! Hydrangea Hi-Fire is a compact variety that will be very happy in a smaller container, so it’s ideal for small gardens, balcony gardens and more. It will grow in a mounding habit, up to 150cm in height and 120cm wide.
Not only is it compact, but its exceptionally strong stems don’t require staking, so it’s low fuss, too. Watch as your minimal-maintenance plant springs to life, producing large, deep purple-hued flowers in acidic soil; you can also change the colour of these flowers to red by adding lime to the soil in order to increase its pH level.
Place your Hydrangea in sun or semi-shade and enjoy this sea of purple or red all summer long, with Hi-Fire flowering from June to the first frosts in September/October.
5 Hydrangea care mistakes
- Too much water
Yes, newly established plants always need more water – that’s true for any UK garden plant. However, once your Hydrangeas have become established in your garden, watering them as much as you did when you first got them is a no-no.
If the weather has been dry and sunny, a drink every two or three days is adequate. If in doubt, check the dryness of the soil around the plant; if it is dry below three inches, it’s time for another drink.
- Impatience when it comes to colour changing
As I mentioned, you can change the colour of most Hydrangeas (not white ones) through altering the pH of the soil. You can do this by adding certain alkaline or acidic substances, which will gradually turn the soil alkaline or acidic. However, the key word here is ‘gradually’. If you want to change the colour of your Hydrangeas, you can’t do it quickly. The process can even take up to a year!
This can cause fertiliser burn, which causes Hydrangea leaves to appear scorched. Once per month during the blooming season should be enough; spread it around the drip line of the plant (the circle on the ground where water falls off the leaves) rather than the base, and water deeply.
- Too much sun or shade
Different varieties of Hydrangeas have different light requirements: bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) love the morning sun and afternoon semi-shade; oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) prefer a semi-shaded patch for as much of the day as possible; and panicle Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) adore full sun.
However, if in doubt, most Hydrangeas will grow well in partial or dappled shade!
- Poor draining soil
This is a big one. Well-draining soil is a must with Hydrangea plants. This means soil that won’t get waterlogged, as these plants do not like to sit in water (their roots will rot). However, if you have clay or sandy soil, this doesn’t mean that you can’t grow Hydrangeas. Use a soil improver to change the consistency of the soil, and over time you should be able to grow wonderful Hydrangeas!
Have you got Hydrangeas in your garden? Let me know in the comments below!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.