It’s officially spring and time to pay attention to your hydrangeas. Hydrangea care in the early spring garden ranges from doing nothing to severe cutbacks.
Maybe you were lucky enough to receive one of these in the past few days. Or bought yourself one when you saw them at the grocery store. These are the plants you see in brightly colored paper and foil jackets. They are forced into early bloom for Easter and Mother’s Day, among other events. Their perfection is a joy to behold. Enjoy it as houseplant for the many weeks of color it will provide. I did an extensive post on this that you can read HERE.
CHECK YOUR SOIL AND ADD AMENDMENTS
Spring is the time to check the soil where you have your hydrangeas. You can do this either via your local Cooperative Extension Service, or a private lab. You want to be sure you have the right soil to grow a healthy plant. That means appropriate amounts of each nutrient in the right proportion. It’s also important for hydrangeas to be able to retain moisture and drain well so as not to smother the roots. In addition, you might have to add compost and/or mulch to get things just right for your plant to thrive.
Spring is one of the two times in a season that you can safely transplant your hydrangeas. That’s because they are dormant or just emerging. If, however, you garden in a warmer area where your plant is fully leafed out, reconsider your transplanting work. It’s easier on the plant and you if you wait until the fall in those warmer areas. You can read all about transplanting HERE.
Pruning is the big question for most gardeners this time of year. What hydrangeas do I prune in spring and how do I prune them? Fortunately, I write about hydrangea pruning multiple times each season. You can read the pruning info about panicle and woodland/smooth hydrangeas HERE. Unless you live in a warmer zone where you have already begun to see flowerbuds on your other hydrangeas, hold off on any plants that flower on old wood.
Fertilizing your hydrangeas is an important spring activity. It’s one of the two best times to fertilize hydrangeas as well as other shrubs. Once your plants are cleaned up, give them some shrub fertilizer to help them get going. Despite the 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 improvement. A soil test will help you figure that out. The results of fertilizing are more than encouraging and I am convinced this is a worthwhile practice, especially for big leaf (macrophylla) and mountain (serrata) reblooming hydrangeas
Feeding your other old wood blooming hydrangeas (oak leaf and climbing), although helpful, isn’t necessary. They are all pretty self sufficient, unless you have an issue that needs to be remedied.
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.
WATCH OUT FOR TICKS
Working on your hydrangeas in the spring garden forces you to get down at ground level, sometimes crawling beneath your plant. That action may disturb ticks that then light on you. Whenever I do this early season fertilizing, I always pick up several ticks. So do be aware and do a tick check regularly, especially after fertilizing.
OTHER HYDRANGEA NEWS
In addition to a hectic speaking schedule, March was a busy month.
I recently wrote a guest post for GardenRant on the Best Kept Hydrangea Secret about all the nonsense that is written on line about hydrangeas (except for my content, of course). GardenRant is an on-line collection of essays written by an impressive team of horticulturists, authors, nursery owners, columnists, ecologists, speakers, and activists. It provides an interactive, thought-provoking platform that tackles all aspects of gardening.
Later in the month, I had the good fortune to be a guest on the Garden DC Podcast. Hosted by Kathy Jentz, editor of Washington Gardener Magazine, this is an award winning podcast all about gardening in the greater Washington, DC., and Mid-Atlantic area. You can listen to the episode and see the full show notes at: https://washingtongardener.blogspot.com/2023/03/gardendc-podcast-episode-142-hydrangea.html or on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/tA0pWzsGemU. One listener gave it 5 stars and thought this about the episode: “…The hydrangea episode was fantastic. I learned so much. I have grown hydrangeas for MANY years, but can’t wait to implement your guest’s suggestions. Excellent podcast. Thank you…”
For an earlier podcast about “Understanding Hydrangeas: Pruning, Blooming, Color-Forcing & More”, you can also listen to the show I did with Joe Lamp’l, the Joe in Joe Gardener. Joe is one of the country’s most recognized and trusted personalities in gardening and green-living. As the founder and “Joe” behind joegardener.com, he’s all about gardening and horticulture through the best how-to videos, podcasts, online courses, and blog posts available, garnering many awards in all aspects of what he does.
MY NEWEST HYDRANGEA BOOK RELEASE
March was also the month that I finished the work on publishing an electronic version of Success With Hydrangeas. I am so pleased to tell you that my internationally best selling hydrangea book is now available in an electronic version. It is actually the “#1 New Release in Gardening and Horticulture Perennials” on Amazon.
You’ll get the same content as the print version with a few added photos. The Kindle Edition can be right at your fingertips, regardless of where you are. You get easy access to all the hydrangea info you need when you’re at the garden center or elsewhere. Plus there’s a “Look Inside” feature that gives you the chance to glance through a few pages before you make your buying decision. How cool is that?
I’ll be back soon with lots more hydrangea content. Enjoy the sun’s warmth and spring beauty as we wait for the big show from hydrangeas. It’s coming soon!
Thanks for reading.
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