published Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Five Tips: How to grow hydrangeas

A honey bee rests on a hydrangea in Jim Greasby’s garden.
Staff File Photo
A honey bee rests on a hydrangea in Jim Greasby’s garden. Staff File Photo

Hydrangeas come in 23 different species, though only five are widely cultivated in the United States, according to the U.S. National Arboretum.

This time of year, beautiful blooming hydrangea bushes are turning heads throughout the Tennessee Valley.

They grow best in moist, well-drained soil, according to the USNA, and while some shade is beneficial, deep shade can actually hinder flower growth.

The care of hydrangeas can vary slightly according to species, and different minerals in soil will affect the coloration of the blooms.

With frequent waterings the shrubs can thrive in spite of the strong summer heat. Weekly irrigation will help fight moisture loss, according to the University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program.

To keep new blooms thriving, prune back the dead flowers, but don't cut old branches before determining if they are actually dead. New blooms can grow in old wood.

5 Tips

1. Water frequently to keep the soil adequately moist and to help battle mites.

2. Use an insecticide spray to keep aphids at bay.

3. Prune dead flowers, but check to see whether branches are still alive before cutting them off.

4. Water early or late in the day, and at the base of the plant, not on the blooms.

5. Add a fertilizer to the soil to keep the shrubs thriving.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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