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How to Grow and Care for Hydrangea Bushes

hydrangea, flower, bush, shrubs, blooms,

Perennial Shrub, hydrangea arborescens

Are you looking for big, bright, colorful, profuse bloomers!? Look no further.

 Hydrangea flowers are simply beautiful. The flower heads are enormous. These perennial, deciduous bushes profusely produce huge, round flower heads in mid-summer. Hydrangea plants are native to North and South America, the Himalayas, and central and eastern Asia.

Colors include white, pink, blue lilac, purple, varying shades of these colors. There is even a variety of two toned flowers.

During the spring through fall, these bushes have attractive foliage. Most varieties of Hydrangea grow from 3 to 10 ft. tall. Some varieties grow up to 25 feet. Most varieties prefer full sun to partial shade.

Perhaps the only downside to these lush plants with their colorful blooms, is that they shed their leaves the fall. The leafless bush becomes a less than attractive clump of stalks and stems, until the following spring.

Did you know? There are over 1200 species of Hydrangeas.

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Plant Propagation:

Hydrangeas are grown from cuttings. Start new cuttings from April through August. Select new growth  stems. Cut a 6" to 8" stem from the the end of non-flowering stems. The cutting should have two to three pairs of leaves. Remove the bottom pair of leaves. Plant them in sandy soil in a shady location.Cover the cutting with a glass jar or other clear cover until the roots form. Keep the soil moist.

Once roots have formed, the new plants can be transplanted to their new location in your garden or in containers.

Hydrangeas can also be propagated by harvesting the seeds.

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How to Grow Hydrangea Bushes:

Hydrangea bushes are easy to grow. They prefer full sun to partial shade. In warmer climates, put them in a more shaded area, to reduce wilting in the midday sun. But note, too much shade can hinder blooms.

The plants prefer moist, rich, loam soil that drains well.

When planting, add generous amounts of rich compost. Add mulch yearly to help retain soil moisture, and to replenish nutrients for the plants. Keep the soil moist the entire season to promote lush growth and big blooms. Add a general purpose fertilizer monthly.

Flowers will begin to bloom in mid summer. Remove spent blooms, to promote even more blooms. To grow bigger blooms, remove a few of the stems.

Prune bushes back in winter to early spring. If the bushes become too big or winter damaged, they can be cut back close to the ground.

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Color Me Hydrangea:

They say a leopard can't change his spots. But, a Hydrangea can change it's colors. Some varieties change flower colors, depending upon the soil condition.

The amount of the micro-nutrient aluminum available for uptake by the plant results in the color changes. The pH level influences the ability of the plant to intake and use this micro-nutrient. In acidic soils high in aluminum, the flowers are blue. The higher the acidity(and aluminum), the bluer the flower. Neutral soils with less aluminum are white. Alkaline soils result in pink blooms.

To change flower colors:

  • Add lime of the soil to reduce acidity

  • Add Aluminum sulfate to increase acidity.

No Blooms? The most common cause is winter damage. A frost can kill the buds. Too much shade and poor soil conditions can also result in no blooms.

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Insects and Disease:

Aphids, red spiders and a few other insects can be an occasional problem. Treat with mild insecticides or insecticidal soaps.

Powdery Mildew, blights and leaf spots can occur. Treat plant as needed with a fungicide.

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A favorite Fall pastime is planting fall bulbs. These bulbs turn into the first blooms of spring, brightening up and chasing away the dull, grey winter scenery. More on Bulbs

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