Green is popping up everywhere. Hydrangeas are just starting to wake up as their foliage appears. Soon there will be a sea of pinks, purples, and whites everywhere. I can’t wait!! A reminder for those of you who don’t like the ‘ugly sticks’ sticking up in the garden once everything else starts to look nice. Do NOT cut back the sticks as in most cases that is where your summer blooms are going to come from.

Planting & Maintenance: Hydrangea are easy to grow and require only a few routine maintenance activities. When planting, the top of the root ball should be level with the soil surface. Water them thoroughly after transplanting.

Most varieties form their flower buds in the late summer for the following year. They should only be pruned when the flower heads begin to fade, otherwise you’ll risk removing next year’s flowers. When pruning, remove spent flower heads and prune back other shoots to encourage branching and fullness.

Although the coloration of the flowers is influenced by the soil pH, it is actually the presence or absence of aluminum that affects flower coloration. If aluminum is present within the plant, the blooms will be blue and if it is absent, the flowers will appear pink. The pH influences the availability of aluminum for uptake by the plant. When the soil is acidic (pH around 5.5) aluminum is generally more available to the plant and blue flowers result. Conversely, when the soil is alkaline (pH near 7.0), the availability of aluminum is decreased which leads to the formation of pink flowers.

If blue flowers are desired, it may be advantageous to apply drenches of aluminum sulfate (one tablespoon per one gallon water) around the plant in the early spring. Avoid getting the solution on the leaves because foliar damage may result. If pink flowers are desired on Hydrangeas planted in acidic soils, it will be necessary to increase the pH by drenching the soil with hydrated lime (one tablespoon per on gallon water) in the early spring.

The application of 3 to 5 inches of organic mulches will help retain moisture and decrease the occurrence weeds throughout the growing season. Hydrangeas grow best if they are fertilized regularly. Regular additions of organic matter, such as organic mulches, will often suffice. Otherwise, a slow release, balanced fertilizer applied once or twice per year (in the late spring and mid-summer) will provide adequate nutrition.

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