Things seem to be looking up for Hydrangeas
2016 proved to be such a disappointing year for Hydrangeas but I think things are looking up. Fingers crossed! I suppose I should not lump all hydrangeas together and give some credit where credit is due. Some Hydrangea varieties actually performed quite well last year. Most of the smooth-leaf(Annabelle) and paniculata(Limelight) Hydrangeas actually put on a nice show in spite of Mother Nature’s lack of cooperation. The Hydrangeas that struggled the most last year were the big leaf varieties/macrophylla. But we love this kind of Hydrangea! No need to stop loving them. The Endless Summer, big leaf varieties of Hydrangea are so beautiful with their pom-pom-like pinkish to bluish blooms. Macrophylla Hydrangeas got hit hard with last year’s late April frost. Shame on Mother Nature. Hydrangeas were duped by the unusually warm March weather in 2016 and thought it was their signal to grow. Then April came along and fooled everyone with her unexpected, harsh frost. Poor Big Leaf Hydrangeas, they didn’t know what hit them! Here is the good news…2017 seems to be going better for our favorite Big Leaf Hydrangeas. What can we do to make it an even better year?
Let’s begin with flower color. Macrophylla varieties of Hydrangeas are interesting because in some people’s yards, they have these showy, pink cotton candy-like flower balls. In other yards, the flowers are of the deepest blue. How is this possible, that the same type of hydrangea can be pink on one property and blue in another person’s garden? It is not because Hydrangeas have a choice, it all has to do with the pH of your soil. The sweeter the soil, the pinker the Hydrangea flower. The more sour the soil, the bluer your Hydrangea flower. It is as simple as science. If you prefer pink cotton candy over blue, add lime to your soil. Lime makes the pH more alkaline/basic, thus, in turn, making the flowers pinker. If you have a preference for blue, add sulfur to your soil. Sulfur makes the soil more acidic. It is important that you start your applications of Lime or Color Me Pink a.s.a.p. Soil Acidifier and Color Me Blue also should be applied first thing in the spring. It takes a little while to change the pH of your soil, so get going now to see the color you prefer when they bloom.
pH is not the only important part when it comes to Macrophylla Hydrangea care. They also need to eat guys! Don’t deny them the fertilizer they need to give you those showy blooms. If pink is your color, use Plant-Tone on those hydrangeas. It contains no sulfur, so the soil will not become more acidic. If you are true blue, use Holly-Tone. It has a touch of sulfur, so your soil pH will drop even lower, making flowers even bluer. Fickle flowers aren’t they?! Actually, they are pretty low maintenance. Did you know that you do not even need to prune a Hydrangea except for some simple dead-heading of the spent flower? Yes, it is true, they would rather be left alone. Be patient folks. Macrophylla Hydrangeas can be slow to show green growth on the old stems. Don’t be hasty and cut them right off in the spring. Give them some fertilizer and give them a chance to do their thing.
I love all of our Endless Summer varieties of Macrophylla Hydrangeas, from Twist n’ Shout to Bloomstruck, they are all so pretty and just make me think of New England. You might even want to have some fun this year and see if you can change some Macrophylla varieties pink and the others blue in your yard. Why not?! Go for it. While you are at it…throw some Lime around some other sweet soil-loving plants. Lilacs, Peonies, Clematis, and Tomatoes all love a little Lime. If you are in the process of changing your Hydrangeas blue, share some of the soil acidifiers with your Blueberry bushes and Potatoes. They like a little sour treat.
The bottom line is, do not stop loving and caring for the Big Leaf/Macrophylla Hydrangeas. As long as Mother Nature cooperates, they will shower you in pinks or blues. It is all up to you!
Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!
*Color Me Pink
*Color Me Blue