Hydrangea Care Myths Gardeners Shouldn’t Ignore
Protect Against Snapback Frosts
If you live in a cold climate area you are probably in the habit of protecting your hydrangeas over the winter from frost or wind damage. Don’t unwrap your hydrangeas until after your average last frost date. In many cases, it’s better to go at least 1-2 weeks after your average last frost date to protect against snapback frosts.
This is more important if you live in an area where the temperature fluctuates dramatically in the early spring. The easiest way to do this is to wrap your shrubs gently with burlap and the support of garden stakes, or using plant protection bags.
Do Some Spring Cleaning
The first thing I look forward to doing in the spring is cleaning up my flower beds, especially in areas where I have hydrangeas growing. I like to wait to do this until most plants have some green on them.
This helps me to remember where everything is, and to take extra care when working in the beds because I do not want to damage any of my plants.
When it comes to hydrangeas, it is important to remove any leaves or other debris that has collected in the base of the plant. The stems are great at holding dried leaves hostage.
Removing these leaves will help to eliminate any excess moisture around plant base. It will also allow the sun to warm the ground and any growth that may be coming up from the ground.
Start Adding Compost
Adding manure or compost around the plant base is a great way to give your hydrangea nutrients it needs to grow big and strong. Adding compost will improve your soil conditions over time while doing the double duty of giving them a big nutrient boost.
There are many packaged compost products available at garden centers. You can also seek out local farms that may be selling manure. Whichever product you choose, adding compost to the plant base (and all throughout your garden for that matter) is easily done.
I like to apply about an inch of compost all around the plant’s dripline. The dripline of the plant is the outer perimeter. Most of the plant’s roots will be located in this area. This ensures that the roots have a fair shot at receiving the nutrients from the compost.
Water the compost in, and you will be on your way to happy plants! Adding compost is also a great idea when you are planting new hydrangeas. Removing some garden soil that exists and mixing it with compost is another easy way to get some organic material into your garden beds.
Start Your Watering Schedule
It is important to keep your gardens watered in the springtime. Sometimes this task is forgotten because it doesn’t seem warm enough for your plants to need regular watering. This is a key point in the growing season where you can really give your plants a boost by watering them just as you would in the summertime.
I can’t emphasize how important it is to avoid overhead watering when it comes to hydrangeas. If you water from above the water will sit on the leaves and will make them more susceptible to the fungal diseases that they can be prone to.
Start a Regular Pruning Routine
If you have a hydrangea that blooms on “new wood” such as Hydrangea paniculata this is a good time to prune these shrubs. A good rule of thumb when pruning any shrub is to only remove one third of your plant.
If you have a hydrangea that blooms on new wood such as H.arborescens or H.paniculata and you are hoping for bigger flowers, springtime is a good time to give your plants a major haircut.
In fact, you can cut them all of the way back to within a few inches of the ground. Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood will produce their new branch growth as well as their flowers starting in the spring ensuring that your flowers for this season will be safe from spring pruning.
Start Applying Fertilizer
The best time to apply fertilizer is in the spring before the weather heats up. You will want to look for a fertilizer labeled for shrubs and trees. Many of these fertilizers are available on the market in slow release formulas as well as in water-soluble or granular forms. Whichever formula you choose, be sure to follow the package instructions.
Once you have cleaned up your gardens and added compost and/or fertilized, it is just about time for the finishing touch. Adding about one to two inches of mulch to your hydrangea beds is recommended.
While you are mulching be sure to keep the mulch from directly touching the base of the plant. This will keep the plant safe from rot.