Hydrangea help!

Hi all

We moved into our bungalow this June and it is the first place we've been with a garden as previously lived in flats. So I'm a bit clueless!

In the front garden there are 2 hydrangea bushes and they flowered pretty well but I was wondering if there are any hints and tips anyone could give me for getting the most out of them and encouraging more blooms next year?

Thanks in advance! image



  • granmagranma Posts: 1,598

    Give them a mulch of erecasius compost ( don't know if I spelt this right )  

    But it's the same compost as azaleas. . I also think you could feed in spring with the same food as for azaleas.

  • Hi Amy

    Leave it till spring to prune them - I leave the faded flowers on mine all winter. Once you see emerging new buds on the stems below the flowers, cut off the dead flowers and dead flower stem down to just above them.  (Here in London I did this in April, but it depends like so many other things on the weather and what spring is like where you are). This way you get some winter interest from the fading flowers, and they provide frost protection to the  buds that will form flowers next year.

    If you want to stop them getting too big, take out some of the oldest stems by cutting them right down to the ground. Cut some others back by a third and prune the remainder as I've suggested above - this will stimulate fresh stems to grow and these and the stems you cut back hard will not flower next year, but they will the year after and it stops the plant becoming too big and woody.

    Other than that, they just need some compost - it doesn't  have to be ericaceous but if they had blue flowers that will probably mean your soil is acid and ericaceous compost will help you get blue flowers again next year. If the soil is alkaline, they will be pink. Any compost is better than none! They need plenty of water, so if we have a dry spell in this promised Indian summer give them a drink and make sure they are well-watered when they start growing again in spring.  They will drop most of their leaves over winter, this is normal, but if they are thirsty, they show it by drooping spectacularly!

    Main thing is not to prune off too much or you will lose next year's flowers, but if they have got rather large, you might have to prune them drastically and lose the flowers for a year.

    Hope this makes sense


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,652

    It dépends on what kind of hydrangea they are.  If they are the usual mophead/lace cap types they will produce next year's flowers on old wood so you need to remove the dead flower heads once spent but taking care not to spoil any bud forming behind them.   Flower colour will depend a lot on teh type of soil you have - blue for acid soil and pink for alkaline.  There are feeds you can buy in garden centres to enourage the blue flowers.  Follow the instructions on the pack.

    If they are the paniculata forms, they flower on new wood so can be left now as they are and then pruned back to a pair of buds on each stem next spring.   How high or low these buds are will depend on teh severity of the winter which may kill off the ends of stems and also your choice as to teh eventual size you want the shrub to attain each year.

    There is also a quercifolia form but you'll have to Google those or wait for someone else to reply.

    Either type may appreciate a feed of bonemeal forked in around their roots in autumn as this helps root formation over winter when the rest of the plant is dormant.   Both types wil appreciate a generous mulch in autumn and again in spring with a dollop of either pelleted chicken manure or blod, fish and bone.   For extra flower power you can also give them a liquid feed of rose or tomato food.

    The Vendée, France
  • aah good point Obelixx. My hydrangeas are mophead (round heads) and lacecap (flatter). I think the paniculata ones are more ice-cream shaped, Amy and the quercifolia ones have leaves shaped like oak leaves which go red in Autumn. Best to have a google for images of plants that look like yours.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,652

    I have severe winters so can only grow the paniculata forms as the mophead stems get frozen to death every winter so I get new green stems but no flowers.   Ttey are recent acquisitions but so good I now have 5 of them doing well.   Might get some more once I've cleared the next bed of weeds - been out of action a while for foot surgery and the weeds have been taking advantage.  

    The Vendée, France
  • Thanks everyone - I *THINK* I have the mophead kind as they are round.

    Think I need to head down to the garden centre!

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,755

    I have quercifolia which is flowering just now.Just deadhead after flowering as they also produce next year's flowers on the previous year's growth. Don't cut back too far in case you remove the wood which will produce the new buds.

    It's easy to tell if it's this type as the clue's in the title - the foliage is the shape of oak leaves! image

    to walk through a forest is to touch the past

  • image



     Hi, Amy: Two pics of my favourite 'mophead' - one is in full bloom, whilst the other is on a drier site and has 'gone over' more toward the papery texture you should get on the old flowerheads if left over Winter. I'd advise leaving those flowerheads on until you see the new buds forming, then cut back to double (opposite) buds to achieve a dense form on the bush. Enjoy!!

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