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Plant Hydrangeas for Large, Long Lasting Blooms

Updated on April 7, 2017
Dolores Monet profile image

An avid gardener for over 40 years, Dolores has landscaped for private clients and maintained one client's small orchid collection.


I took this picture in early November!
I took this picture in early November! | Source

What shrub could be as generous, as beautiful, or as versatile as the hydrangea? A wide growing shrub with big leaves, hydrangeas bloom as early as late June and hold on to their flowers until Fall.

Mophead, Lacecap, PeeGee, and Oakleaf hydrangeas offer large blooms of tiny flowers in white, pink, violet, blue, green, and variations in between. Some blue green flowers show pink at the edges, or pink flowers are touched with violet. Some blue flowers turn greenish or teal toward the end of the season.

Hydrangeas make fabulous wedding bouquets and floral arrangements. Sometimes, a single stem is all you need. The extravagant nature and large size of hydrangea blooms make them a great choice any time you use cut flowers. Make sure that you cut blooms early in the morning.

Hydrangeas dry well. For dried hydrangeas, cut blooms in late summer, when the bloom has naturally dried on the shrub. Unlike most spent blooms, the flowers of the hydrangea age well and retain their beauty long after their peak.

You can hang hydrangeas upside down to dry, or merely place them in a dry vase. Dried hydrangeas are usually a mix of several colors and their muted hues make for a nice vintage look. Dried hydrangeas are also great for making wreaths.


Mop-head Hydrangeas

Mop-head hydrangeas are the most common form of this popular shrub. A large growing shrub up to 4' tall and as wide or wider, mopheads feature huge, rounded blooms. Mop-heads need no pruning, except for the removal of dead or damaged branches.

If you want to prune for size, cut back in the Summer. Pruning in Fall or Spring will interfere with bloom production the following year, as new buds are set soon after flowering.

In hotter climates, mop-head hydrangeas generally age toward a pinkish green in late summer. In cooler areas, the blooms fade to a violet or blue.

Do not plant mop-head hydrangeas under trees as tree roots interfere with water absorption. Heavy, overhanging trees may provide too much shade. Mop-heads prefer morning sun and afternoon shade.

Mop-head hydrangea


Pink or blue Mophead Hydrangeas

Pink or blue hydrangeas are influenced by the soil's pH. Use a soil tester kit to determine your soil's pH. Chances are, you know if your soil is acid or alkaline.

The presence of aluminum in acid soil creates blue hydrangea blooms. The acid soil (pH 5.2 - 5.5) helps hydrangeas to take up aluminum. Use a fertilizer that is high in potassium and low in phosphorus (25/5/30) if you want blue blooms. You can add Aluminum sulfate by mixing one tablespoon to a gallon of water. For blue blooms, mulch with shredded pine bark, pine needles, or coffee grounds. Nikko Blue is one of the best blue hydrangeas and does well in shade, growing between 4 - 6' tall.

It is not unusual to see different colored blooms all on one shrub.

Pink hydrangea blossoms are produced with an alkaline soil (pH 6.0 - 6.2). To increase the pink color, add lime to the soil and use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus (25/10/10). You can increase alkalinity by placing broken pieces of concrete around, not touching, the base of the plant. Or, plant hydrangeas between a cement foundation and sidewalk to enhance the alkalinity of the soil with lime.

It is easier to intensify the color naturally produced by the soil in your area. The addition of too many chemicals or too strong of a mixture can harm shrubs.

Feed mop-head hydrangeas in late Winter or early Spring. Add compost and mulch to retain moisture. Newly planted hydrangeas may need watering daily in dry, hot weather.

The blooms of white or cream colored hydrangeas can not be altered. The color of lace-caps can be influenced in the same way as mop-heads.

Lace-cap hydrangea


Lace-cap Hydrangea

Lace-cap hydrangeas feature flattened, rounded blooms with tiny, tightly packed flowers in the center, encircled by larger flowers typical of mop-heads. Treat lace-caps the same as mop-heads.

Lace-caps are not as common as mop-heads but respond to the same color influences. They grow from 3 - 5' tall.

Hydrangea paniculata or Pee Gee hydrangea


Pee Gee or Paniculata Hydrangea

Pee Gee or Hydrangea paniculata does well in full sun and hot weather. This large growing shrub can be pruned any time of the year into tree shape. White blooms in late summer often turn pink with age.

Paniculata grandiflora is a popular variation with huge, white blooms and is the source of the nick name, Pee Gee. Paniculata grows up to 10' tall and is often used as a focal point, due to it's old fashioned charm and striking good looks.

Oakleaf hydrangea


Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf hydrangeas grow in sun or partial shade but will do better in hot areas with a bit of afternoon shade. Oakleaf hydrangeas require excellent drainage as too much moisture will rot the roots.

This US native produces beautiful white blooms and is more suited to to dry weather than mop-heads. The blooms are not rounded, but conical spikes of many small flowers.

Oakleaf hydrangea gets its name from the leaves which resemble oak leaves and not at all like the standard, heart shaped hydrangea leaf. The foliage turns bronze, red, or purple in Fall.

Dried hydrangeas

Dried hydrangeas in old blue and white pitcher for vintage style
Dried hydrangeas in old blue and white pitcher for vintage style | Source

Beautiful hydrangeas in a tall vase

 hydrangeas in a tall glass vase.
hydrangeas in a tall glass vase. | Source

Hydrangea Paniculata Blossoms


Make a Beautiful Yet Simple Bridal Bouquet with Hydranga Blooms


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    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Ben! it's a little early to see buds on a mophead. Mine are just starting teenie little green flower buds and it's been a cool spring. You folks up there in the Great White North, I am sure stuff is later than down here below the Mason Dixon line. Have patience. Give them a little feed to give them a boost. I like Holly Tone. Thanks for stopping in!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 4 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Hey D, well this is my first spring with hydrangeas and so far no buds that I can tell, the mop head variety. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to bust down the old stems from last year? So I broke one open and it looked green to me, and realized I probably shouldn't mess with it. Still waiting for either to kick in...other plants haven't started here yet too, like my mulberry and others. Glad I reread your article here, I never realized all the variety in this species.