When to prune lacecap hydrangeas?

Lacecap Hydrangea Care: What Is A Lacecap Hydrangea

The mophead is the best known variety of Hydrangea macrophylla, but lacecap is also lovely. What is a lacecap hydrangea? It’s a similar plant offering a more delicate blossom, and just as easy to grow as its more famous cousin. Read on for more lacecap hydrangea information, including tips about lacecap hydrangea care.

What is a Lacecap Hydrangea?

What is a lacecap hydrangea? It’s very similar to the mophead hydrangea plant. The big difference is that instead of growing round clusters of showy blossoms, this hydrangea grows flowers that resemble flat caps with frilly edges. The flower is a round disk of short flowers, edged with showier flowers.

Lacecap Hydrangea Information

A lacecap is a Hydrangea macrophylla like the mophead variety and its growing requirements are the same. Laceheads prefer a part-sun, part-shade location; rich, well-draining soil and adequate irrigation. A site

with morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal.

If you plant lacecaps in an appropriate location, you’ll find that care for lacecap hydrangeas is quite easy. Regular pruning is optional, but regular irrigation is critical.

Lacecap Hydrangea Care

Good care for lacecap hydrangeas starts with being sure your shrub gets enough water, but not too much. These shrubs like to get regular drinks, but only if the unused water drains nicely from the soil. Lacecaps will not do well in muddy soil.

These hydrangeas prefer evenly moist soil. One step you can take to help the soil retain moisture is to layer a few inches of organic mulch on the soil about the hydrangea’s roots. Don’t allow the mulch to come within a few inches of the hydrangea stems.

Fertilizer is a part of your lacecap hydrangea care program. Use a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer according to label directions or blend organic compost into the soil every year.

Right after the plant finishes flowering, snip off the longer flowering shoots to a lower bud. This “deadheading” helps your plant remain in flower all summer long. If you want to control the size of the plant, you can do more extensive pruning. Remove up to one-third of each stem, making the cut at a bud.

Lacecap hydrangea information tells you that these shrubs tolerate severe pruning. If your lacecap shrub is older and doesn’t flower much, revitalize it by trimming off a third of the stems at ground level. Do this in late winter and pick the oldest stems to eliminate.

By Bec Wenzel

Hydrangeas are a very sought after plant, and have been for many years. They have beautiful big, showy flowers making them a must in many gardens. They are a versatile shrub that require very little attention and they are great in pots and perfect for use in flower arrangements, especially because they can bloom for such a long time.

While all this sounds amazing and it is, there can be uncertainty and a little confusion when it comes to pruning hydrangeas. This may be because certain varieties of hydrangeas flower on different types of wood, so in order to explain how to prune I will need to go over the different varieties with you so you don’t cut off any potential flowering stems for the coming season.

Now just to note you don’t have to prune your hydrangeas at all, you can leave them and they will be just fine. They will continue to grow and flower, but pruning does help keep the shape looking great, especially if it starts to get leggy. It helps to keep the size in check and it also helps produce better quality flowers. If you miss a year of pruning it won’t hurt, and if the particular hydrangea you want to prune is very out of shape, you may want to cut it back hard and go for a year without flowers all together.

Large leaf Varieties: Hydrangea macrophylla (Mophead) and (Lacecap)

The most popular hydrangeas here in NZ and the type that springs to mind when talking about our beloved hydrangea are the large leaf varieties, either the mophead or the lacecap. Mopheads and lacecaps are very similar in structure and leaf, but their flowers are noticeably different. Mop heads have that big fluffy, pom pom type flower that many of you might be familiar with. Lacecaps are more flat and not as fluffy with delicate, single flowers surrounding a head of small flower buds in the middle. Both of these varieties flower on old wood, the stem that produced the previous year. This means you can not do extreme pruning if you want flowers for the upcoming season.


The best time to prune any variety of hydrangea is mid- late winter. Some people even hold off a bit longer in case there are any late frosts, so early spring is often an ideal time for pruning. Late frosts tend to damage any new buds that come through after pruning. If you prune too early you may promote new growth so holding off a bit is the best thing to do.

What you will need:

Gardening gloves

A pair of sharp secateurs

How to prune mopheads and lacecapes:

  • Prune back any damaged or dead stems, take them right back to the base. Removing any diseased or damaged stems is a must in any pruning task. If you are unsure if a stem is dead, you can scrape the stem with your fingernail, if it is green underneath it is still alive but if it is brown, you know for certain it has passed it’s time.

  • Prune out any weak or spindly growth, also very old stems can be removed, take them right back to the base.
  • Cut out any branches that are crossing over, you want to create a great shaped plant.
  • You want to then cut back shoots that have flowered, they should still be visible (dead and brown as they may be). Focus on what size you would like the plant to be and find the fattest, biggest two buds that are next to each other and cut just above the buds.

  • Two big buds together means that they will be flower buds, the smaller buds are leaf buds.
  • Don’t be particular on how you make the cut, hydrangeas are forgiving. Try and make the cut as clean and tidy as possible, but the angle isn’t that important.
  • Leave all shoots that didn’t have any flowers on where possible.

Quercifolia, Oakleaf varieties:

These varieties are easy to spot with oak shaped leaves, the foliage even changes colour with the seasons from green to red. These varieties also bloom on old wood.

Oakleaf varieties are best left alone but if light pruning is required to keep the shape remember just like the mopheads they flower on old wood so take them back to the flower buds. Prune away any dead, dying or diseased branches to improve the health of your plant.

Paniculata varieties:

These varieties have a distinct triangle or cone shaped flower that often starts as a white or cream and fades to pink or in the case of hydrangea limelight, starts as lime green then turning to white. They tend to have much smaller leaves than the previous varieties. Paniculata varieties bloom on new wood, making them very easy to prune, you don’t have to worry about cutting back too much, they will still bloom as any new wood produced has the potential of flowering.

You can prune paniculatas very hard, every year if you like. You can prune them right back to 15cm from the ground, leaving just a few buds on each stem or you can just deadhead your plants if you would prefer to keep the height. It is really up to you with these plants.

Plants & Flowers

Common name: Bigleaf Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Lacecap Hydrangea, Mophead Hydrangea, Penny Mac, Hortensia

Family: Hydrangeaceae

Synonymous: Hortensia opuloides
Hydrangea chungii
Hydrangea hortensia
Hydrangea hortensis
Hydrangea maritima
Hydrangea opuloides
Hydrangea otaksa
Viburnum macrophyllum

Hydrangea macrophylla

Distribution and habitat: Hydrangea macrophylla plant is native to China and Japan, growing in cool, moist, mineral rich soil and medium shade of the woodland habitats, hedgerows or stream banks. It is a deciduous shrub growing to 2m (7 feet) tall by 2.5m (8 feet) broad with large heads of pink or blue flowers in summer and autumn. It is widely cultivated as ornamental garden plant in many parts of the world in climates ranging from 6 to 9 hardiness zones.

Description: The term macrophylla means large- or long-leave. The opposite leaves can grow to 15 cm (6 inch) in length. They are simple, membranous, orbicular to elliptic and acuminate. They are generally serrated.
The inflorescence of Hydrangea macrophylla is a cluster with all flowers placed in a plane or a hemisphere or even a whole sphere in cultivated forms. Two distinct types of flowers can be identified: central non-ornamental fertile flowers and peripheral ornamental flowers, usually described as ‘sterile’. The four sepals of decorative flowers have colors ranging from pale pink, red fuchsia purple to blue. The non-decorative flowers have five small greenish sepals and five small petals. Flowering lasts from early summer to early winter. The fruit is a subglobose capsule.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hortensia’ is the most common form grown in pots. It is a low growing shrub, usually with height and spread of no more than 30-60cm (12-24 inch). Each plant has a short, woody stem and from four to eight branches, which carry opposite pairs of shiny, pointed oval leaves 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long and 5-10cm (2-4 inch) wide. The leaves have stalks about 2cm (1 inch) long. The main stem and branches may each terminate in a rounded flower head about 12-20cm (5-8 inch) wide which is composed of many four petaled flowers up to 5cm (2 inch) wide. Occasionally there are small specimens available which have only an unbranched main stem with a single flower head at its top.
Flowers of Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hortensia’ have greenish buds that open white, pink, red, purple or blue. Flower colour of all Hydrangea plants are affected by the degree or acidity or alkalinity of the soil in which they grow. Pink or red-flowered kinds develop blue or purple when grown in acid or neutral potting mixtures and the normally blue-flowered kinds turn pink or purple-red in alkaline potting mixtures.

Houseplant care: Hydrangea macrophylla is the only species grown as indoor plant. Even this one is difficult to carry over from one year to another indoors because it require constantly cool conditions in order to bloom. Thus, potted Hydrangea macrophylla are usually bought when budding in early spring and may be kept for a few weeks indoors while flowering and then planted outdoors.

Light: Grow Hydrangea macrophylla plants in bright light but not too much direct sunlight.

Temperature: Flowers of potted Hydrangea macrophylla will last for up to eight weeks if kept in a cool position (below 16°C). In normal room temperatures the blooms are likely to fade within three to four weeks.

Watering: Water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. Never allow the potting mixture to dry out or the plant will collapse. If this happens, immerse the pot in a bucket of water until the root ball is thoroughly soaked. Even if this treatment succeeds, however, the current flowering period of the plant will have been shortened.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks as long as the plant remains indoors.

Potting and repotting: Repotting is not necessary for these temporary indoor plants. Most specimens will recover and thrive is planted in a sheltered position outdoors.

Gardening: Hydrangea macrophylla do not have to be pruned back – ever – unless they are very old. Removing dead stems is the only pruning that must be done for the health of the plant and these can be removed at any time. Hydrangea macrophylla blooms on large buds formed on previous season’s growth. Therefore is recommended do not cut the stems that are yet to flower as they will produce the first flowers of next year.

The white cultivars remain white regardless of the soil pH, but if colour changing is desired for other cultivars, lime the soil for pink flowers or add aluminum-sulphate for blue flowers. The change of the soil pH must be done before flower buds form. So treat the soil (in recommended dosage) several times at intervals starting with beginning of autumn and then again in spring. Test the soil pH concentration for good results.

Protect young plants in winter in cold zones as they are more tender than the older plants.

Location: All Hydrangea macrophylla plants will bloom and grow well in morning sun and afternoon shade in Southern Hemisphere. The further north they are grown the more sun these plants need and can withstand.
No hydrangea will do well in heavy shade such as under a shade tree. The blooms will be sparse and will not develop fully. If it is planted under a tree often fail to thrive. This is because trees roots are very aggressive and are drawn to the rich, moist soil usually provided for these plants.
Choose a location where Hydrangea macrophylla can reach its full size without pruning.

Soil: Plant Hydrangea macrophylla in well-drained soil. If the soil is heavy, add roughage such as pine bark mulch.
Do not plant it too deeply. Plant Hydrangea macrophylla in early summer or fall at the same depth the hydrangea was planted in the pot.
Transplant this plant when it has become dormant and has lost all of its leaves (late fall or winter).

Irrigation: Hydrangea macrophylla must be kept watered very well the first and second summer after they are planted or transplanted. The best way to water is deeply. Use a hose to water rather than a sprinkler system. However do not over-water. Watering every day can be just as destructive as allowing the plants to dry out. If the soil does not drain well, do not allow it to remain soggy around plants.
These plant have a moderate drought tolerance. They are not doing well in hot, dry conditions.

Fertilising: Hydrangea macrophylla grow best if they are fertilised once or twice in the summer. Either chemical fertilisers or organic matter can be used successfully. An organic method of applying manure and/or compost around the roots, produces excellent results and also improves the condition of the soil. If chemical fertilizers are used, applying a slow-release, balanced fertilizer once a year is probably the simplest solution. A less expensive fast release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 will work just as well if applied twice during the summer. Do not fertilize after end of summer. Fall is the time for this plants to begin preparing for dormancy. Also, never fertilise a plant which looks sick.
Over-fertilisation can be much more detrimental than under-fertilization as fertiliser burn can occur when too much fertiliser is applied.

Propagation: Propagation is not practical for indoor plants. Although stem cuttings of Hydrangea macrophylla will normally root quite easily, the resultant plants are unlikely to produce flowers indoors.

For outdoors cultivation, Hydrangea macrophylla plants are easy to propagate from semi-hardwood cuttings taken from near the base of the plant, tip cuttings taken in summer or by layering, suckering or division. The cuttings 13-15cm (5-6 inch) long with the excess leaves removed should be placed in propagation mix and kept in a closed frame or sealed plastic bag until roots develop. The cuttings are taken in late summer or early fall.

Pests and Diseases:
Aphids distort the new growth and coat the leaves with sticky honeydew.
Treatment: The insects can be dislodged with a high pressure water spray from the garden hose.

Four-lined plant bug causes round, brown, sunken spots on the leaves. The injury is often thought to be a disease.
Treatment: Both contact and systemic insecticides are effective for control of these bugs.

A leaf tier webs the leaves over the tip of the branches.
Treatment: These insects may be picked off by hand. Handpick and destroy caterpillars, tell-tale rolled leaves and cocoons; prune out and destroy active webs, preferably when still small.

Rose chafers are light tan with red, spindly legs, though they can be darker.
Treatment: They can occur in large numbers where soils are sandy. Chemicals are ineffective because more rose chafers quickly move into a treated area to replace those killed by pesticides. Physically remove rose chafers, especially when small numbers are present. Remove them from plants and into pails of soapy water to kill them.

Oyster shell scale infests the upper stems of Hydrangea and often goes unnoticed.
Treatment Sprays of dormant plants with horticultural oil should help control overwintering stages and are less harmful to biological predators that help control scale.

Mites cause yellowish foliage.
Treatment: Treat affected plants with horticultural oils or an adequate pesticide following the instructions on label.

Bacterial wilt may blight the flower clusters and leaves. The disease is worse after heavy rains and hot weather. If severe, wilting and root rot occur, followed by plant death.

Bud or flower blight infects dense flower clusters in wet weather or after frost.

Several genera of fungi cause leaf spots on Hydrangea.

Powdery mildews in different genera cover the undersides of leaves with light gray mold. The leaves turn brown in spots and the upper leaf surfaces stay green or turn purplish brown. Young stems and flower stalks are infected and killed.

Rust causes rusty brown pustules on the leaves. The pustules are most noticeable on the undersides of leaves. Infected leaves dry up and become brittle.

Problems: There are three possibilities for lack of flowering among the Hydrangea macrophylla species: too much shade, improper pruning or unfavorable weather conditions which can damage the flower buds by late spring freezes.

Recommended varieties:
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘All Summer Beauty’ – This selection may be more appropriate for colder areas, as it supposedly blooms on current season’s growth and thus will flower despite late frost damage. The profuse mophead blooms are deep blue in acid soil, and the plant grows 1.2m (4 feet) tall and wide.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Ayesha’ – Unusual for its rounded flower petals, slight fragrance and lustrous foliage, this cultivar is gaining popularity. The mophead flowers are pink-purple. This form may be less hardy than others.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blue Wave’ – The most popular blue-flowered lacecap form, this plant is also hardier than similar plants. It grows to 2m (7 feet) tall and wide and features outer bloom florets of blue to pink (depending on soil pH).

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Golden Sunlight’ – (a cultivar of Hydrangea macrophylla var. serrata) A new form that is very unusual for its new leaves which emerge golden yellow and mature to light green with age. The blooms are pinkish and the plant grows to 1m (3 feet) tall and wide.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lemon Wave’ – Grown mostly as a foliage plant, this form has spectacular variegation — with zones of gold, white and green on each leaf. It rarely flowers in colder zones.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’ – This is the most common blue-flowered mophead form, useful in colder areas since is reportedly will produce some flowers on new growth late in the season. Acid soil will produce the deepest blue color on this 1.2 (4feet) tall shrub.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’ – A hardy mophead form, this plant is also notable for its heavy production of pure white flowers that develop hints of blue-pink with age. It grows to 1.5m (5 feet) tall and wide.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mariesii Variegata’ (may be the same as Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Variegata’) – This is the most common variegated leaf form, with deep green foliage edged in white. It reaches 1.5m (5 feet) tall and bears lacecap blooms, but it rarely flowers well in colder zones.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Pia’, ‘Forever Pink’ and ‘Tovelit’ – A trio of dwarf forms, these selections are among the most popular compact selections, reaching only 1m (3 feet) tall and wide. The mophead flowers are in shades of pink.

Cutting flower: Hydrangea macrophylla are used as cutting flowers as well. Their blooms can make a fabulous floral arrangements as they will fill a vase with their many tiny flowers. They also last well, especially with proper care. Properly cut blooms will last for at least several weeks to a month. It is recommended do not trim non-blooming stalks on a plant less than five years old because they tend to become next year’s flowers. The flower harvested should be at least a week old and is fully colored prior to cutting it since the older the bloom, the longer the cut flower will last in water. Though hydrangea leaves are pretty, they should all be trimmed off as they will steal water from the flower part and also will shorten the life of a cut flower. Consider using a shorter vase and cutting the Hydrangea macrophylla stem short, about 15cm (6 inch) or less. A longer stem requires more water and will shorten the life of the bloom. Once the bloom is cut, which should be cut on a diagonal, the Hydrangea macrophylla bloom should be immersed in water for two hours. To increase water absorption, the bottom of the stem should be either smash the with a hammer or re-cut 2.5cm (1 inch) off the bottom of the stem while it is immersed in water. This will keep the bloom alive and drinking water for a longer period of time. Since the stem will take up water, check frequently the level of water in the vase. Change the vase water every few days.

Dry flowers: Hydrangea macrophylla can be used as dried flowers. While it is tempting to cut the hydrangea blossoms for drying at the height of their color, this does not work. Fresh, recently opened blooms, rarely dry well in the open air. Hydrangeas do best when allowed to dry on the plant before picking them. In the south, hydrangeas usually age to a blushing green color and then pick up shades of pink and burgundy as Fall approaches. In the cooler areas of the world, they seem to age to shades of blue and purple. They are both equally beautiful, but very different.
Leave blooms on the shrub until late summer. Toward the end of the summer the petals will begin to age and take on a vintage look. If left on the shrub a little longer, many blooms will pick up interesting shades of burgundy and pink.

Another method: If are used cut blooms to dry, strip off the leaves, arrange them in a vase, with or without water, and leave them to dry. It is not necessary to hang hydrangea flowers up side down to dry unless the stems are very thin and weak.
To retain extremely natural hydrangea color, use Silica Gel to dry fresh blooms.

Uses: Hydrangea macrophylla is a useful hedging plant because of its vigorous growth. It is an appreciated shrub border for its high quality foliage, adding textural variety to a landscape. It makes a stunning plant for either specimen, groupings or mass plantings. It is suitable for cottage garden style. Also, it can be used as container plant or above-ground planter.

Hardiness zone: 5b – 9a

Cutting Flowers, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs Bigleaf Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Hortensia, Hortensia opuloides, Hydrangea chungii, Hydrangea hortensia, Hydrangea hortensis, Hydrangea macrophylla, Hydrangea macrophylla All Summer Beauty, Hydrangea macrophylla Ayesha, Hydrangea macrophylla Blue Wave, Hydrangea macrophylla Forever Pink, Hydrangea macrophylla Golden Sunlight, Hydrangea macrophylla Hortensia, Hydrangea macrophylla Lemon Wave, Hydrangea macrophylla Madame Emile Mouillere, Hydrangea macrophylla Mariesii Variegata, Hydrangea macrophylla Nikko Blue, Hydrangea macrophylla Pia, Hydrangea macrophylla Tovelit, Hydrangea maritima, Hydrangea opuloides, Hydrangea otaksa, Lacecap Hydrangea, Mophead Hydrangea, Penny Mac, Viburnum macrophyllum



Did you know? Hydrangea Day is celebrated on the 5th of January every year.

Of all the plants… the Endless Summer (Hydrangea macrophylla) has generated the most volcanic enthusiasm – Michael Dirr, the author of ‘Manual of Woody Landscape Plants’.

Hydrangeas are one of the most beautiful flowers. Inflorescence in the genus Hydrangea comes in groups. Hydrangea has long been a popular flowering shrub. The flowers are considered by many as Grandmother’s old-time flower.

Kingdom Plantae Division Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Order Cornales Family Hydrangeaceae Genus Hydrangea

Hydrangea is a genus of about 100 species of flowering plants native to southern and eastern Asia (from Japan to China, the Himalaya and Indonesia) and North and South America. Hydrangeas produce flowers from early spring to late autumn. The flowers of Hydrangea are carried in bunches, at the ends of the stems. Each individual Hydrangea flower is relatively small. However, the display of color is enhanced by a ring of modified bracts around each flower.

In most species of Hydrangea the flowers are white, but in some species, can be blue, red, pink, or purple. In Hydrangea species the exact color often depends upon the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Acidic soils produce blue flowers, neutral soils produce pale cream petals, and alkaline soils result in pink or purple.

Facts About Hydrangea

  • Hydrangeas are one of very few plants that accumulate aluminium. Aluminium is released from acidic soils, and forms complexes in the hydrangea flower giving them their blue color.
  • Hydrangeas produce their main flower clusters from the tips of shoots formed from the previous season.
  • If the terminal buds of these shoots are destroyed, the plant usually fails to bloom. The chief causes of destruction of the terminal buds are excessive winter cold and uninformed pruning.
  • Hydrangeas are also widely used as dried flowers, especially the blue Hydrangeas.
  • The Japanese refer to these Hydrangea plants as Mountain Hydrangeas because they originate in the mountainous areas on the islands of Japan. These hydrangeas are smaller in stature and have smaller leaves and delicate lacecap flowers.
  • Although most Hydrangeas bloom in summer and fall, a few Hydrangeas have developed the ability to set new bloom buds in the spring after the old ones have been pruned off or damaged.
  • Endless Summer is just such a hydrangea. This trait is referred to as being “remontant”.

Types of Hydrangeas

There are 3 types of flower blooms in Hydrangea. They are –
Mophead – Globe shaped flower cluster, the most commonly recognized form of Hydrangea bloom.
Panicle – Long, somewhat cone-shaped flower cluster (particularly in Oakleaf Hydrangeas).
Lacecap – Flattened cluster of what appear to be tiny, immature buds surrounded at the edges by typical 4 to 5 petal flowers.

Further, there are many varieties of Hydrangeas. Some of the most popular varieties are tabulated below –

Common Names Scientific Names Uses
Bigleaf Hydrangea,
Garden Hydrangea,
Endless summer,
French hHdrangea,
Common Hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla The leaves, roots and flowers are antimalarial, antitussive and diuretic. They are said to be a more potent antimalarial than quinine.
Oakleaf hydrangea,
Snow Queen
Hydrangea quercifolia Can be used as a specimen plant where space is adequate, or as an untrimmed hedge or background where screening is desired.
Peegee hydrangea Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora The flowers contain up to 4.06% rutin, which makes them useful for reducing the incidence of recurrent haemorrhages associated with increased capillary fragility, particularly in hypertension.
Smooth Hydrangea Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle The flowers are sweetly scented.
Climbing Hydrangea Hydrangea anomala petiolaris A boiled concoction of the leaves is used to make a syrup. The sweet sap is used as a drink.

from our stores – Pickupflowers – the flower expert

Growing Hydrangeas

  • Propagation of Hydrangeas is rather easy with cuttings obtained from the ends of non-flowering shoots with two or three pairs of leaves, from April to August.
  • Hydrangeas are easy to grow in well-drained soil, which should contain plenty of organic matter or humus.
  • It is best to root them in sand in a shaded area. Avoid planting it in hot, dry, exposed sites.
  • For planting, dig a large hole approximately two feet across and one foot deep.
  • Only the Hydrangeas which naturally have pink flowers will bloom blue, if grown in an acidic soil.
  • Hydrangea plants grow without difficulty in a wide variety of soils but prefer fairly rich moist soil.
  • A general-purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 applied at a rate of 2 cups per 100 square feet in March, May and July is suggested.
  • It is not necessary to remove the mulch when fertilizing, but water soon after application to help dissolve the fertilizer and send it into the soil.
  • Hydrangeas can grow in full sun if they are watered well, but will bloom more freely in partial shade.
  • White blooms will always be white, while the blue or pink can be controlled by the pH of the soil (the closer to a balanced pH of 6.5, the lighter the color).
  • Hydrangeas need plenty of water, so plan to water thoroughly once per week or more frequently.
  • Pruning is the most essential factor in the growth of Hydrangeas. Since the flowers appear on previous year’s growth, prune only the stems that produced this year’s flowers; otherwise you will not have blooms next year.

Hydrangea Plant Care

  • In severe cold winter weather they should be covered. Pruning should be done in summer as soon as the flowering season is over.
  • When pruning, all the old flowering shoots should be removed down to the point on the stem where strong new growth is developing. If you want flowers, do not prune in late fall, winter or spring.

The Hydrangea Guru

Dr. Michael A. Dirr is a professor at the Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia. His lifelong passion for horticulture has positively influenced a generation of students, gardeners, nursery- men, and professional horticulturists. Dirr’s “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” is the leading horticultural text and reference work, and, along with his Reference “Manual of Woody Plant Propagation”, has become the “Bible” for the landscape and nursery industry.

He is popularly known as the Hydrangea Guru for his exceptionally great research on Hydrangeas. Dirr’s Plant Introduction Program has con- tributed over 50 new plant introductions to the Green Industry. He developed Lady in Red, a variety of Hydrangea macrophylla. It is the first patented release from the University’s “Continued Adventures in Plant Improvement in the Department of Horticulture and Center for Applied Nursery Research” program, headed by Dr. Dirr.

All About Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Care

Hydrangea Types

Information About Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are a genus of over 75 species and 600 named cultivars that are native to a wide range of regions and countries, including Japan, Asia, Indonesia, Himalayan mountains, and the Americas. Another common name for hydrangea is hortensia. Hydrangeas can grow as climbing vines and trees, but are most commonly grown as a shrub. The plants can grow from 1 foot tall, all the way to close to 100 feet tall as a climbing vine!

The beautiful flowers produced by this plant is what makes these so popular. Most put on a showy display from early spring all the way into fall. The large flowers come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. Hydrangea blooms can be pink, blue, red, white, purple and green! The flowering shrubs can grow in partial shade to full sun.

Many people remember hydrangea shrubs from their childhood. Today we are falling in love with them all over again. And the good news is that we can now grow many hydrangea varieties our grandmothers never even dreamed of. Some newer hydrangeas grow in colder climates, some are so small they will fit into the perennial border, and others have amazingly large blooms and deep colors.

Hydrangea Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Cornales
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Genus: Hydrangea

Common Hydrangea Species

Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla normalis

Hydrangea macrophylla ssp. serrata

Hydrangea paniculata

Hydrangea arborescens

Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea anomala

Hydrangea Meaning & Symbolism

The name hydrangea comes from the Greek words “hydor” meaning water and “angos” meaning vessel. Which together roughly translate to “water barrel”. This is because of the fact that hydrangeas are notorious for needing lots of water and the cup shaped flowers. The name, Hortensia, is a Latin version of the French word Hortense.

Hydrangeas can symbolize many different things, depending on where around the world and their culture. Many believe these flowers were first discovered in Japan, although the plants are native to several different locations around the globe.

Japan – According to a Japanese legend, the emperor gave hydrangeas to the family of a girl he loved to show how much he cared for her.

Victorians – In Victorian era, hydrangeas represent boastfulness, bragging and vanity. Especially white hydrangeas.

United States – Hydrangeas are used for 4th wedding anniversaries to symbolize appreciation and heartfelt emotion.

Common Hydrangea Questions

If you have a specific question or problem, you can email us directly and we will try and get back to you as soon as we can. We always love hearing from our fans and customers, whether you have questions about growing or just want to share pictures of your gardens and plants! We have tried to address the most common questions our readers have, but we plan on adding more articles to address other questions we hear.

When is the best time to plant a hydrangea?

The best time to plant hydrangeas would be in spring or fall. You can also plant in the summer, but it is more stressful on the plants, and requires more attention to watering due to the extreme heat.

What type of sun does a hydrangea need to grow?

Hydrangeas can grow in full sun to partial sun depending on the variety.

Does hydrangea come back every year??

Yes, hydrangeas will come back every year as long as they do not die over the winter. Some gift hydrangeas are not bred to be very winter hardy though. So sometimes hydraneas will not survive the winter. But in general, most hydrangeas will come back every year.

Can you have hydrangeas as a house plant?

    Hydrangeas are very hard to care for indoors. There are several reasons.

  • Sunlight – you need to ensure the plant is getting the proper amount of sunlight. Without knowing the type of hydrangea your mom has, it is hard to give advice on this.
  • Moisture and humidity – indoor plants tend to dry out faster, and there is not as much humidity indoors either. So be sure that the plant is getting enough moisture, but also not too wet where the roots rot.
  • Overwintering – some plants require a cold period. Depending on the hydrangea, it may require a 2-3 month time frame of colder weather, so the plant can essentially hibernate.
  • Breeding – lots of the “gift” hydrangeas you buy from the store are not bred to last long. Those plants are bred to have bigger/more attractive flowers. These types of hydrangeas are closer to an annual than a perennial blooming shrub like hydrangeas grown for outdoors.

How To Change The Color of Hydrangeas?

Do Deer Eat Hydrangeas?

Why Won’t My Hydrangeas Bloom?

Do Hydrangeas Need a Lot of Water?

Are Hydrangeas Poisonous?

Have more questions? Email [email protected] and we’ll be in touch.

HydrangeasHydrangeas History

Our friend Judith King created the website hydrangeashydrangeas.com several years ago. She is a hydrangea enthusiast who worked in a retail and wholesale garden center for many years. The website was created to help others successfully grow hydrangeas and as a way for Judith to collect hydrangea images and information from traveling. Over the years, Judith has answered hundreds of questions about hydrangeas.

Judith took the picture below in Atlanta, GA about 1998 when Penny McHenry was still living. Penny was the beloved founder and long-time president of the American Hydrangea Society. This was her home and some of the hydrangeas which later became known as Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Penny Mac’.

We’ve partnered with Judith King and hydrangeashydrangeas.com to create the #1 place online for hydrangea information and purchasing hydrangeas! We hope our easy to understand articles & tips help you learn about growing hydrangea bushes each and every year!

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