How to Grow Hydrangeas

hydrangea plants

Hydrangeas are arguably one of the most popular deciduous shrubs in the garden. Known for their huge mophead or lacecap type flowers, they are available in many hues including blue, pink and white. Blooming in the summer, they are an ideal plant for a sheltered or part sun/part shade location.

Types of Hydrangeas

There are several commonly available species of Hydrangeas. These include:

Hydrangea macrophylla - Big Leaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea paniculata - Pannicle Hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia - Oakleaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea arborescens - Smooth Hydrangea
Hydrangea petiolaris - Climbing Hydrangea

Hydrangeas are also available in several growth habits. The most common is a multi-stemmed shrub, but they are also available as a climbing plant or can even be grown as a small tree, called a 'Standard'.


Almost all Hydrangea plants prefer a part shade / part sun location. An area that receives dappled sunlight throughout the day is ideal. These plants can tolerate full sun if their roots are kept cool and adequate moisture is available.


Hydrangeas prefer a rich, cool, moist but well drained soil. Add organic matter and a layer of mulch for extra nutrients and protection.

Pink or Blue Flowers?

For some varieties of Hydrangea, notably Hydrangea macrophylla, the acidity and composition of the soil can affect the flower colour. Our west coast soils tend to be naturally acidic. Acidic soil can make the flowers turn a blue colour, while a sweet or limey soil can change the flower colour to purple or pink. Technically speaking, the flower colour is adjusted through the uptake of aluminum sulfate in acidic soils.Acidic soils allow the plant to bring up the Aluminum, allowing the flowers to turn blue. This is why we also provide Aluminum Sulfate in purchasable form.

Otherwise, add peat moss or use an acidic fertilizer like Arts Garden Pro Rhodo and Azalea food to go blue. Add bonemeal, mushroom manure or lime to make the flowers go Pink. Flower colours do not change on the white flowering varieties.

Fertilizing Hydrangeas

A general purpose fertilizer in spring should be all the fertilizer required for healthy hydrangeas. Providing a mulch and ensuring you have good rich soil filled with organic matter is also beneficial. As stated earlier, use a Rhodo or Azalea food if you want to ensure your Hydrangea's flowers turn blue.

Pruning Hydrangeas

For most hydrangeas, flowers bloom on last years wood. Therefore, the best time to prune is after flowering. A winter or early spring pruning is ok, but will reduce the number of blooms you will get.

A new group of Hydrangeas called the 'Endless Summer Series', are different. They bloom on old and new wood allowing you to be far more carefree with your pruning.

For More Information:

For more information about Hydrangeas, and how to use them in your garden, visit Arts Nursery or call us at 604.882.1201. We stock hundreds of hydrangea plants in many different species and varieties. You can also view our hydrangea catalog  for more information.

Author: Arts Nursery Ltd. Source: Arts Nursery Ltd.

Art's Nursery Ltd.

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Surrey, BC, Canada,
V4N 3W8

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