Hydrangeas are a beloved garden shrub, prized for their lush, colorful blooms. But in order to get the most out of your hydrangeas, it’s important to put them in an optimal location. The right placement will ensure your hydrangeas thrive and display abundant flowers. When deciding where to plant a hydrangea, there are some factors to consider.
One of the most important aspects for hydrangea placement is light. Different hydrangea varieties have different light needs:
Sun-loving – Hydrangea macrophylla prefer at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. This includes the popular bigleaf and mophead types.
Part sun – Hydrangea paniculata do best in part sun, with 4-6 hours of sun and some afternoon shade. These include peegee and limelight varieties.
Shade lovers – Hydrangea arborescens such as ‘Annabelle’ thrive in dappled sunlight or light shade.
Placing hydrangeas in the wrong light conditions leads to weak growth and lack of blooms. Be sure to match the variety to the appropriate lighting.
Hydrangeas grow best in moist, rich, well-draining soil. The ideal soil has lots of organic matter from compost or leaf mold mixed in. It should retain moisture but not get waterlogged.
To prepare the soil, work plenty of compost or other organic material into the site before planting. Improve drainage in heavy clay soils by mixing in material like peat moss or small gravel.
Pick a site with nutrient-rich soil or amend the soil to create the proper conditions.
Lack of water is one of the fastest ways to kill a hydrangea. Their large leaves and flowers have high water demands, especially in hot weather.
Select a planting spot that will naturally get adequate moisture. Sites that collect rainwater runoff or morning dew are ideal. Adding mulch after planting also helps retain soil moisture.
Supplement natural rainfall with a deep watering 2-3 times per week in warm weather. Provide extra water during any dry spells.
Protection from Wind
Hydrangeas have brittle stems that are susceptible to damage from strong winds. An exposed, windy area can quickly break, tatter, and dry out hydrangea flowers and leaves.
Plant hydrangeas in a spot sheltered by a building, fence, trees, or tall plants. This protects them from harsh winds that will otherwise ruin their appearance.
Space to Grow
Give hydrangeas enough room to reach their mature size without being crowded. Plant them far enough from trees and structures so they don’t get overshadowed or have to compete for resources.
Littleleaf or dwarf hydrangea varieties need 3-4 feet spacing. Bigleaf and panicle hydrangeas need more like 5-6 feet or more between plants.
While some hydrangea species can handle cold winters, others need milder climates. Know your USDA Hardiness Zone to pick varieties suited for your area.
Where winters get below -5°F, stick with cold hardy hydrangea species like H.paniculata, H.arborescens or H.quercifolia. Avoid more tender bigleaf varieties.
Soil pH affects bloom color on some hydrangeas. Acidic soil below pH 6.5 produces blue flowers, while alkaline soil over pH 7.0 results in pink blooms. If your aim is a particular color, planting location can help achieve it.
You can also actively manipulate soil pH. But picking a spot that is naturally acidic or alkaline lets the soil do some of the work.
Hydrangeas are somewhat heavy feeders. Choose a fertile, nutrient-rich site that has been organically enriched to provide nutrients for best growth.
Alternatively, prepare to fertilize regularly after planting and apply extra compost or mulch to keep soils voluminous. This provides steady nutrition.
Good air movement helps keep hydrangea leaves and flowers dry, preventing fungal diseases. Avoid planting hydrangeas in enclosed areas with no airflow.
Also space hydrangeas widely enough for air to circulate between plants. Dense, crowded hydrangeas are more prone to problems.
Picking the optimal planting site allows hydrangeas to thrive with minimal effort. Ensure the location matches the needs of your hydrangea variety in terms of sunlight, soil, moisture, and other factors. Prep the site beforehand by amending soil, providing protection from wind, and spacing appropriately. With the right placement, your hydrangeas will establish quickly and put on a colorful floral display each season.