A Guide to Planting Hydrangeas

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29 Jun 2022

By Michael Jacobson

Hydrangeas are unrivaled in the shrub world for their captivating, colorful flowers. They’re elegant plants that produce abundant blooms, perfect for the garden or as a centerpiece in a flower arrangement. Their striking flower heads come in several colors to suit any occasion or preference, from clear blue or vibrant pink, to white and lavender. 

Planting hydrangeas is the perfect way to add a touch of color to your garden. Whether you’re a gardening newbie, or have green fingers already, hydrangeas are easy to plant and grow when you know how. 

Here, we cover how to plant hydrangeas to ensure your shrubs stay vibrant and blooming, year after year.

When to plant hydrangeas

The best time to plant hydrangeas in your garden is in spring or fall, when the soil is warm and moist. This gives the shrub a good amount of time to establish a healthy root system before the summer weather kicks in. While planting hydrangeas in summer is possible, you will have to keep an eye on moisture levels in the soil.

Try to plant your shrubs in the early morning or late afternoon. During this time, the weather is generally cooler and your plants will be less likely to suffer heat stress from direct sunlight.

If you’re looking to plant your hydrangea in pots or containers, these can be planted all year round, as long as the soil isn’t frozen or too wet in the colder months, or excessively dry in the summer. 

How to plant hydrangeas: step by step

Looking to plant and grow stunning hydrangea plants? Here’s our step-by-step guide to planting hydrangeas:

Step 1: Prep

Before you plant your hydrangeas, you’ll need to prepare the soil for planting. Hydrangeas grow best in moist soil, so if your soil is light, you may need to bulk it up with moisture-retaining organic matter such as compost or manure before planting.

Step 2: Plant

Once your soil is prepped, you can start to plant your hydrangeas. Start by gently removing the plant from its container, and inspect the root ball. Make sure to snip off any dead or rotting parts. 

Ideally, you should plant your hydrangea in light shade but you can choose a sunnier spot if the soil isn’t too dry in the summer. Next, dig a hole as deep as the root ball in the soil, and 2 to 3 times as wide. The base of the plant should be level with the top of the planting hole - don’t plant it deeper than it was in its original pot. Then set the plant in the hole and fill it half full with soil before watering generously. Once the plant has absorbed the water, fill the rest of the hole with soil and water again. 

Step 3: Flower food

When it comes to flower food or fertilizer, while hydrangea-specific fertilizer is available, it isn’t always necessary. An all-purpose 12-4-8 fertilizer should work just as well. 

If you’re looking for a simple solution to hydrangea feeding, you can apply a once a year slow-release chemical fertilizer. Alternatively, if you prefer natural fertilizer, you can use a combination of sulfur, compost, and peat moss. 

It’s important not to over-fertilize your hydrangea as this can cause fertilizer burn. To keep your hydrangea healthy, you should use fertilizer in March, May and July. Spread the fertilizer around the drip line of the branches and not the base of the plant. If your chosen fertilizer is a slow-release type, you will need to lightly cover it with soil to activate the fertilizer.

By practicing the right care and feeding your hydrangeas well, you will be rewarded with luscious, healthy blooms.

Lifespan of hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are loved for their long-lasting blooms. Though they require minimal care, the lifespan of a hydrangea can vary depending on environmental conditions and how well they’re cared for. With proper care, hydrangeas can live for up to 50 years. 

To improve their longevity, prune your hydrangeas in the fall so they can grow strong stems the following summer. Make sure not to prune the plant while it’s blooming as this can damage it and may cause it to go a year without flowering while the plant recovers.

Companion plants for hydrangeas

To decide what to plant alongside hydrangeas, you should consider both what plants will complement the flowers visually and what will thrive in the same growing environment. Here are some of the best companion plants for hydrangeas:

  • Daylilies: If you pride yourself on having a visually appealing garden, classic color combinations are a must. Daylilies are exotic-looking flowers that are easy to grow and thrive in most soil types. They grow well in similar conditions to hydrangeas and come in a variety of vibrant colors to visually complement your hydrangeas.
  • Echinacea purpurea: Echinacea purpurea will bloom around the same time as your hydrangeas, making them a great companion plant. They are tolerant of partial shades and grow well in moist, fertile soil where hydrangeas also thrive. Echinacea purpurea are also known to attract insect pollinators, which is an added bonus!
  • Ornamental grasses: If you’re after some variety in your garden, ornamental grasses will add a great textural contrast to your hydrangeas. They will easily fill your border around your other plants with ease. 
  • Dogwood trees: Small trees like dogwood trees can offer the shade that hydrangea shrubs prefer. They’ll also bring with them added blooms and foliage.

Understanding common pests and diseases

Like all plants, there are some pests and diseases that hydrangeas can be affected by. Here are some common pests and diseases that can affect hydrangeas:


  • Leaf spot: Leaf spot is the most common disease that may affect your hydrangeas. It’s usually the result of a fungal infection caused by the ground being too moist and the roots getting too damp. You can prevent leaf spot by being mindful of overwatering your hydrangeas. While they need regular water, if you’ve added mulch on top of your soil you won’t need to water them as often. 
  • Powdery mildew: While powdery mildew won’t cause serious damage to your hydrangeas, it will affect their appearance. If you spot powdery white mildew on top of the leaves and your flowers aren’t blooming, you may need to cut away some of the branches to promote better air circulation. 


  • Spider mites: Spider mites are very small insects that can eat away at your hydrangea’s leaves. They pierce each of the leaves and remove fluid from inside. You’ll be able to spot if spider mites have affected your plants as small yellow spots will be found on the leaves. If you notice spider mites, you’ll need to remove them by spraying water on them and knocking them off the leaves of the plant.
  • Rose chafers (beetles): Rose chafers are known to eat the flowers of hydrangea plants. A way to spot that rose chafers have damaged your plants is small holes in the petals. To prevent this you should check the leaves and remove any affected leaves from the hydrangea. Alternatively, you can use pesticides.
  • Aphids: Greenflies, aphids and whiteflies penetrate the leaves of the hydrangea and remove sap from inside. You’ll notice if you have problems with whiteflies or aphids as the sap removal turns the leaves yellow and causes them to curl up. To remove these, you can mix dish soap and water together and coat every part of the hydrangea. You can also use a pesticide to spray the plants if you prefer.

​​Buy beautiful hydrangeas online with French Florist for same-day local delivery

Don’t fancy growing hydrangeas yourself? This shouldn’t stop you from enjoying beautiful hydrangeas in your home.

Here at French Florist, our local team of experts craft every bouquet with time and care, ensuring each arrangement passes strict quality control. If you want the very best hydrangeas delivered to your door, you can order your arrangement from French Florist for delivery nationwide, and same-day local delivery. Order hydrangeas online today to brighten someone’s day, or as a gift to yourself.


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