Now that it is July, it’s time to fertilize your hydrangeas, especially for next year. You should be having a fabulous hydrangea year. The relatively mild winter and forgiving spring is giving all of us a fantastic show. Just about every big leaf hydrangea (macrophylla) is flowering. But don’t be lulled into thinking you can just sit back and sip your iced tea. If your plants aren’t performing, take a minute to read a post I did last year for the National Garden Bureau.

FEEDING YOUR PLANTS

There are differing opinions on fertilizing your hydrangeas. I am firmly in the camp of helping hydrangeas thrive and have learned it is especially beneficial if your soil needs a minor improvement.

One of my lessons from last summer’s Covid lockdown is that fertilizing made all the difference in how my hydrangeas performed. Like others, my schedule was abruptly aborted, so I used the “found” time in my garden. I actually did what I have been advising my audiences to do: fertilize big leaf and mountain hydrangeas in July. The results were more than encouraging and convinced me I need to continue this practice.

Blooming Bigleaf Hydrangea

Blooming Bigleaf Hydrangea

THE REASONS TO FERTILIZE HYDRANGEAS

Remember that on rebloomers, the more you cut the tips, the more flowers you will get along the stem for later season color. So your rebloomers can use the extra nutrients to continue to put out new flowers. Deadheading and/or cutting flowers for bouquets also stimulates the plant to grow new stems for future flowers. 

Even if your plant is not a rebloomer, the mid-season fertilizer will help it set buds for next year come this August. It’s that simple.

FEEDING OTHER KINDS OF HYDRANGEAS

Feeding your other hydrangeas isn’t necessary. The oak leafs, panicles, woodland, and climbing hydrangeas are all pretty self sufficient, unless you have an issue that needs to be remedied. They can get their annual feeding (if at all) next spring.

Hydrangea Arborescens

THE BEST FERTILIZER FOR HYDRANGEAS

Rose food is ideal as is any granulated shrub fertilizer, either organic or a time release product. I don’t recommend products like 10-10-10. No plant uses nutrients in equal amounts so when you use 10-10-10, what you are doing is contributing to run-off and local pollution issues.

Bag of Rose-tone Fertilizer

Rose-tone Fertilizer is very good for hydrangeas

WATCH OUT FOR TICKS

Fertilizing hydrangeas forces you to get down at the ground level, sometimes crawling beneath your plant. That action may disturb ticks that then light on you. Once I began fertilizing my plants this year, I picked up several ticks. So do be aware and do a tick check regularly, especially after fertilizing. 

One type of tick

One type of tick

WHAT COMES NEXT

I’ll be back in a few days to discuss mid-season pinch-pruning, maybe topping your plant, and using those cuttings to propagate new plants. The fun is just beginning!

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