Tips for planting and growing hydrangeas that will thrive year after year.

Hydrangeas have captivated the hearts of homeowners for decades and for good reason. There is something enchanting about their gorgeous blooms, in such a variety of colors. Not only are hydrangeas beautiful in a garden, they instantly add a moment of casual sophistication to any tablescape or side table. Whether you already have hydrangeas in your garden or are considering planting them, these tips will help you grow and care for hydrangeas that will thrive year after year.

Location Matters

These plants like mostly sun but also some afternoon shade, in order to flourish. If you have a spot that is too shady, your hydrangeas will be green and leafy, but will sadly yield no blooms. Once you have the right spot, plant your hydrangea(s) in the morning and water them right away. It is always helpful to fertilize them in the early spring, with something as simple as a once a year, slow release fertilizer made for shrubs.

Watering Is A Must

The word ‘hydrangea’ means water, which is how these fabulous blooms got there name. Hydrangeas are happiest getting watered every day! If your plant starts to wilt, it is a sign that they need water. The best way to give your hydrangea water is to give it at the base of the plant, into the soil. If your hydrangea is newly planted, it will need about a gallon of water per day for one week to get established.

Bloom Colors Decoded

Hydrangeas come in pink, purple, blue, white, magenta, and everything in between. You can change the color of your hydrangeas by changing the pH in your soil. Hydrangeas that are blue are considered to have acidic soil, which has a pH level of 5.5 or less. Pink hydrangeas have soil with a pH level of 6.5 or higher, which is also known as basic with higher levels of alkaline. You can add sulfur to your soil for blue blooms, and ground lime for pink blooms. But, you can not change the color of white hydrangeas, such as Limelights or Annabelles.

Lee Real Estate for Nantucket Fine Living


The number one rule about pruning hydrangeas is to know what kind of hydrangea you have before pruning it. If you prune them too late you may cut off next year’s blooms. There are two main types: Macrophylla Hydrangeas (blue, pink, or purple mopheads) or Paniculata Hydrangeas (cone shaped blooms like limelights). When you cut your Macrophylla Hydrangeas to bring them inside, that counts as their pruning and you don’t need to do anything further. If you have a “pannicle hydrangea” or an Annabelle, you can prune it any time that it is not in bloom, such as when they are dormant in the winter. Limelights bloom later and can handle aggressive pruning, all the way to the ground, because they bloom on new wood. Big blossoms will appreciate a heavy pruning because they will grow back with a hardier stem in the spring.

Blue Hydrangeas
Source: Kelli Delaney of KD Hamptons

Cutting and Arrangements

It is best to cut these beauties early in the morning or later in the afternoon, because they tend to wilt during the day. Cut them on the new wood or old wood part of the stem. Take the leaves off below the water line, and change the water every 1 to 2 days. Putting them in water immediately is strongly advised.

Drying Hydrangeas

When planning to dry your hydrangeas, you must do this at the end of the season when the color starts to leave the blossom and the flower feels papery. The flower will already start to do the work for you. Limelights will turn pink when they are ready to dry out. You can still add some water to the vase when you bring them in, just allow the water to evaporate over time before enjoying your dried hydrangeas.

Hydrangea Troubleshooting

If it’s July and you’re wondering why your Hydrangeas didn’t bloom this year, it is likely because they were pruned at the wrong time. If they were pruned too late, the blooms for the following year were taken with it. Reset the plant now, for next year. Prune it back, clean out the woody stems, fertilize and hope for better luck next year. Also check to make sure your plant is getting enough sunlight. If hydrangeas do not get enough sunlight, blooms won’t grow.

Gina for GNC Garden

Now that we’ve covered all the bases, which type of hydrangeas will you be planting in this season? Whatever hydrangea variety you choose, it is sure to be the star of your garden to enjoy for many years to come. We would love to see your pictures! If you share them on Instagram tag us and use the hashtag #ttlgarden for a chance to be featured on our Instagram.

Kiel James Patrick