Do Hydrangeas Come Back Every Year?
Growing hydrangeas is a wonderful task for flower gardening enthusiasts. These beautiful, large shrubs provide show-stopping blooms throughout the summer season. Hydrangeas are hearty in most zones in the United States and will come back every year if they are treated properly. Planting in the right location with plenty of drainage and extra care in temperatures under 0 degrees will help in keeping them strong.
Growing Hydrangea Perennials
Do Hydrangeas Come Back Every Year?
Most hydrangeas are woody perennials that will return every year if they are kept healthy and strong. There are some types of hydrangeas, often promoted and sold as gifts, that are less hearty than other kinds, so it is important to know what you are dealing with.
If you are simply planting a hydrangea that someone gave you, you might run the risk of it not surviving the winter. These beautiful flowers are not categorized as Hydrangeas annuals because these flowers bloom yearly in the right conditions.
A Note on Woody Perennials
Woody perennial shrubs are classified by their stems. When the stem dies back, a new one is grown from the same root. They come back year after year and can become woodier as they age.
Prune hydrangeas in late winter to encourage old wood or new growth and health for the coming season. Hydrangea varieties that flower on old wood require light pruning and bloom from last year’s stem with new growth. Hydrangea arborescens and smooth hydrangeas bloom on new wood.
Climate and temperature do play a role in determining whether or not your hydrangeas will make it through the winter. If you live in an area where the temperature never goes below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, you are in Zone 7 or higher.
These areas do not need to worry about taking precautions with hydrangeas in the winter. If you are in a lower zone, however, you will want to provide winter care. Winter protection will help your garden once it starts producing flowers in the late spring and summer.
You will want to plant your hydrangea in the early fall or early spring to give them the best chance to thrive. This is because you want to be sure that the root hardy system has plenty of time to get established before cold weather arrives in the winter and before blooming occurs in the summer.
Plant your hydrangea flowers early in the morning when the weather is still cool to avoid stressing them by the heat. Alternatively, reblooming hydrangeas will appear with new growth and more flowers in the summer months.
Hydrangeas prefer the gentle morning sun but do not like the harsh, direct sunlight of the afternoon. Plant them on the north or south side of your home in an area where they will be in the full sun during the morning hours and in the shade during the afternoon.
Also, consider planting your hydrangeas in a place where they will have shelter from the wind. This could be along a fence or along the side of a building. This will keep the wind from damaging the fragile leaves and tiny flowers. Do not plant hydrangeas too close to trees because they may not get enough water if the tree roots are soaking it up instead. Hydrangeas like plenty of water in well-drained soil.
Mix your soil with lots of organic material for feeding your hydrangeas before you plant. Make sure that the soil will properly drain because sitting in water can rot the roots and kill your hydrangeas.
Mixing compost in with the soil can help with this problem. Avoiding soil that is dense or heavy, like clay, will help you have more blooms for your flower.
You can actually have some control over the color of your hydrangeas by controlling the ph balance of the soil where you plant them. For blue flowers, try to create moist soil that has a pH of about 5.2 to 5.5.
For pink flowers, use alkaline soil with a pH of about 6.0. Flowers grown between these acidity levels may be purple or a mixture of pink, purple, and blue hydrangeas. Endless summer hydrangeas come in blue, pink, or purple and have impressive blooms.
To raise the acidity level of your soil, you can add ammonium sulfate. To lower the acidity level, add some lime to the soil.
To keep your hydrangeas healthy all winter, especially in colder areas, be sure to keep them hydrated until the ground freezes. If you let your hydrangeas go dry before the winter seasons, the roots may not have the strength to make it.
Be sure to give your hydrangeas plenty of fertilizer before winter. You can do this with a commercial hydrangea fertilizer mix, or you can simply add a thick layer of compost or even manure around the plant.
This will soak into the ground and give your hydrangeas something to eat that will keep them strong in colder temperatures.
Protect your hydrangeas with a thick layer of mulch on top of the compost. Make your mulch six to eight inches deep using straw, leaves, or hay.
If your part of the world gets plenty of snow, this is actually a good thing for your plants. A consistent layer of snow will provide even more insulation and will keep rodents away from your plants.
If you live in a climate that is below zone 7, you should consider covering your hydrangea plants to give them the best chance at life and to encourage the best blooms. Cover your fully grown hydrangeas by wrapping them in burlap and securing it with string.
Smaller hydrangea plants can be covered in mulch as long as it is light enough for air to come through. Again, snow covering will also help.
The Hydrangea flower loves water as long as the soil is well-drained. Water your hydrangeas one inch each week throughout the early spring, summer, and fall.
Make sure you keep the water at the roots and avoid the leaves and flowers as much as possible. For best results, do your watering in the morning so the roots have time to drink before the heat of the afternoon comes into play.
Guide to Growing the Perfect Tulips
This is a great book if you are just get started gardening or are considering going all organic. We will discuss topics that even seasoned gardeners can benefit from such as; why organic, risks of chemicals, making your own compost, and much more.
An organic mulch is excellent for keeping the soil moist during warm weather but also allowing drainage. Your hydrangeas will benefit from the organic material as it breaks down and becomes energy for blooming.
Different hydrangeas have varying fertilization needs, but in general, you should fertilize hydrangeas once at the beginning of the growing season and again a couple of months later.
April and June are typically good times. Then fertilize again just before winter comes.
Types of Hydrangeas
Oakleaf hydrangeas have wonderful flowers that come together in a cone shape. The shrubs can grow up to 8 feet tall and have tremendous leaves that are 6 to 12 inches in diameter.
Oakleaf hydrangeas tend to thrive in warmer areas, and they may be harder to keep alive in cold winters. The oakleaf gets its name, hydrangea quercifolia, from its oak tree leaf shape.
Big Leaf Hydrangea
Bigleaf hydrangeas are commonly found in zones 5 through 9. These are also known as hydrangea macrophylla and feature round clusters of beautiful large flowers. These shrubs grow to about four or five feet tall, and blooms can last for many weeks.
Another name for the big leaf is the mophead hydrangea, which is really popular. The lacecap hydrangea is delicate in looks compared to the mophead.
Panicle Hydrangeas (Hydrangea Paniculata)
The panicle hydrangea, also known as hydrangea paniculata, are hearty and strong, even in zones as low as 3.
Panicle hydrangeas grow up to an enormous 15 feet high with proper fertilization. Their flower clusters tend to be oval or tube-shaped.
These are also called hydrangea arborescens, or snowball hydrangea. Their flowers look like huge snowballs.
This white hydrangea grows well in colder temperatures. They are gorgeous in floral arrangements.
Climbing hydrangea can reach up to 60 feet or more with its vigorous vine. They cling to buildings or a trellis and are the perfect hydrangea for those with limited space.
Common Questions About Hydrangeas
Are Hydrangeas Annuals or Perennials?
The hydrangea is a perennial flower that blooms from mid-summer to late fall. They come back year after year and require regular pruning and fertilization for best results. Hydrangeas can thrive in both full sun or partial shade. Many plants have a life cycle of one year and are categorized as an annual plant.
How Do You Prune Hydrangeas?
You’ll want to first start by removing dead blooms. Hydrangeas fail to bloom if conditions are not ideal, so you will have to prune hydrangeas regularly to maintain healthy and lush foliage.
How Do You Gift Plants?
If you want to gift hydrangeas to a friend, make sure you provide them with type and care instructions. The plant is generally grown in the ground, so special care will be necessary for hydrangeas grown in pots.
Hydrangeas are amazing plants that are beautiful in almost any garden setting. Their large, lovely clusters of blooms are highly satisfying and well worth the effort of caring for the plant. Growing hydrangeas is a hobby you won’t regret, and you are sure to get excellent results as long you keep them happy. For more information on growing hydrangeas and other wonderful plants, check out some of our other posts.