Southern gardeners love their hydrangeas. Whether big or small, pink or blue, bigleaf or panicle, there’s a hydrangea selection and style for every space. When looking forward to the next blooming season and deciding what to plant in the garden (and when!), gardeners may wonder when it is too late to grow hydrangeas in the South. Read on for the answer to that question, some guidelines for planting hydrangeas, and a few other things to remember that will help the plants establish themselves well and thrive in your garden.
When To Plant
Hydrangea planting tip number one? Plant well before the first frost. It’s best to plant hydrangeas in either spring or fall, as they establish better in milder weather than in extreme heat or cold. According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, «Fall planting time is best because it gives the plant several months to establish a new root system before blooming. Early spring is the next best planting time. Extra attention to watering is important if planting in summer or for any new plants in a raised planting.»
Once you’ve penciled in hydrangea planting on your calendar, it’s time to get your hands dirty. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System recommends, «Dig[ging] the planting hole [two] feet wider than the plant’s root ball and only as deep as the root ball itself. In heavy soils, consider preparing a planting bed instead of single planting holes. Amend any hydrangea planting with compost to create a mound. This raised planting allows better drainage for roots.» Keeping your hydrangeas mulched in cold weather and adequately watered in well-draining soil throughout the year is essential to keep hydrangeas happy and healthy.
Choosing Healthy Hydrangeas
When first planting hydrangeas or purchasing new flowers at a nursery, look for already blooming plants. There are a few reasons why you want to do this. First, blooming hydrangeas will help determine the size and color variety. Second, choosing a blooming hydrangea plant allows you to examine the roots. Place the hydrangea on its side and gently lift the plant to reveal the roots, which should be white with brownish tips and not have a foul odor.
Hydrangeas have big, bold leaves and large clusters of smaller star-shaped petals. Depending on the variety, hydrangeas are available in lacecap, climbing, bigleaf, smooth, and French. These are only a few specific hydrangea types, but each grows quickly in rich, porous soil with full or partial sunlight exposure.
For more hydrangea planting inspiration, read about vanilla strawberry hydrangea, panicle hydrangea, and all our best ideas for planting hydrangeas in containers.
Are you planning to plant hydrangeas this fall? What hydrangea selections have you had your eye on this year?
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- Smith K, Chenault JA, Tilt K. Hydrangeas. Alabama Cooperative Extension System.