Secrets of Growing Hydrangea For Blooming and Hardiness

Growing Hydrangea shrubs properly is one of the great woody or shrub challenges for the home garden.

And here's what you need to know to get them to bloom, keep them blooming and enjoy them for many years.

To begin with, you can get the info you need to grow climbing hydrangea vines here.

Variety Is Important

And after that, if you live in a cool climate (USDA zones 4/5) then you need to know what kind of Hydrangea you're trying to grow. Why? Because some Hydrangea buds are not winter hardy into USDA zone 4 but the leaves and stems are perfectly hardy. You can grow them all you like, but you'll rarely see flowers.

So here's the plants you could be growing.

Growing Hydrangea macrophylla - the Bigleaf Hydrangea

This is the plant that most gardeners want to grow because it has so many different kinds of flower colors (including blue).

This plant usually grows to 6 feet tall but older specimens have reached 10 feet. As a rule of thumb, you'll find the spread of the shrub is as wide as it is tall.


It grows into USDA zone 6 and flowers there with few problems. In colder areas, it is usually bud-killed (although the leaves grow nicely). Zone 5 is the hit-and-miss zone where sometimes it will and sometimes it won't.

The plant is divided into two flowering forms. The lacecaps that have a center of fertile and non-showy flowers and an outer ring of beautiful flowers (sterile). This gives the flower a pinwheel effect. The second class is the hortensia These are sterile flowers on huge corymbs (big balls) that come in a wide variety of sizes and colours. This is the Hydrangea that most folks think of when they want to grow the plant.

Questions About Growing Hydrangea

Q: I've been growing hydrangea for years and my plant never blooms? A: This is likely because the buds are being winterkilled in cold climates.

Q: My neighbor's does but mine doesn't. A: Likely because it is in a slightly warmer location out of the wind or protected a little bit. Or your neighbor has a 'Forever & Ever' plant.

Q; I want a blue one! Most of these plants will take on a "blue" tone if planted in acidic soils. They assume a pinkish colour when planted in alkaline soils.

Q: So how do I get acid soils. A: Dig a bushel basket sized hole and mix the soil 50:50 with peat moss. Sprinkle sulphur around the plant every spring (just a bit) to keep the soil acid.

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Hydrangea macrophylla 'Forever & Ever'

This is a new class of Hydrangea that have been introduced that bloom on new wood. So rather than having to wait and see if the old flower buds have survived, as long as the plant is alive, it will produce flowering buds all summer long on new growth. There are three varieties available 'Early Sensation' - an intense blue or pink. 'Red Sensation' a brilliant red and 'Double Pink' a rich pink or soft blue depending on soil acidity.

Hydrangea 'Forever and Ever'

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