Hydrangeas are a favorite plant for many gardeners because they are beautiful and require very little attention. This is the plant we see in many gardens and parks. It is a popular choice because it grows in any type of soil and has the ability to multiply by dropping off cuttings. Hydrangeas first became popular in Victorian times for their colors that signified happiness, wealth, and marriage proposals. Many gardeners find that hydrangeas need very little attention to thrive, making them a favorite among those who do not want to spend their weekend weeding and watering plants.
You can figure out the best time to plant a hydrangea from its name. The name comes from the Greek “hydro” meaning water and “angeion” meaning vessel. Put these together and the meaning is water vessel and that is a great description for this plant because hydrangeas need water to flourish.
The best time to plant hydrangeas are in the spring after the danger of frost has passed or autumn when the night temperatures are cooler. In the fall these beautiful flowering plants will thrive with the cooler weather. Cooler weather and shorter days often encourage a plant’s natural dormancy. These planting time gives the hydrangea plenty of time to establish a healthy root system before blooming. This helps to prevent leaf drop and flower loss. Since hydrangeas need a dormant period, they are one of the few plants that can be successfully transplanted in late fall or early winter.
There are so many varieties of hydrangea to choose from! Different colors and different types of flowers will suit different needs. Picking the right plant for your garden depends on the space you have available, soil type, and micro-climate. When you go to the garden center to select your plant see if you can find one when it is blooming, so you know the flower type and color you want. Try and lift the plant out of the container or tip the plant over and slide the plant out. Healthy roots are white with brown tips. If the roots do not look right or there is a gas odor do not buy the plant. It means the roots have problems.
When planting your hydrangea consider planting it in the early morning or late afternoon. The cooler time of day protects the plant from heat stress. The perfect place for planting a hydrangea is a sheltered location that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Do not plant them near trees because you do not want them to compete for nutrients and water.
Start the planting process by amending the soil with compost. Organic matter will help the soil retain water, which we mentioned previously a hydrangea enjoys. Don’t let the soil get soggy as this will kill the plant. The soil will be a key to the success when planting your hydrangea.
Something else that is helpful when planting a hydrangea is putting mulch on the soil. A thick layer of mulch over the roots will help a hydrangea succeed. Mulch aids in slowing down the water loss from the soil, plus it keeps the weeds away. The roots of the hydrangea will extend as far as the leaves, so make sure the entire area is mulched. Keep new plants well-watered until established.