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How to Grow and Care for Your Bigleaf Hydrangea Plant

Hydrangea macrophylla

This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsWhite flowering plantPink flowering plantblue flowering plantA photograph is availableHow to Use the Plant Care Icons at The Garden Helper

We moved into our home 7 years ago and inherited a large hydrangea plant.
Each year it grows taller and bushier and looks very healthy. (It is now about 5 ft.)
The problem is it has never bloomed (well it did get one flower - a bluish one that turned white - about 2 years ago)
It is located in a bed by our deck - it gets afternoon sun - sometimes very hot sun
and this makes it wilt but it bounces back after a good drink.
The soil is acid. We live in Canada in the Kootenays, warm summers, lots of snow in winter.
I really want this plant to bloom the blue flowers I can imagine, but it just grows leaves.
Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. THANKS!
Ernie the Garden Gnome

Growing Requirements of Hydrangea Plants

Hydrangea macrophylla is hardy to zone 8, however temperatures below 25° F. will kill the any new flower buds
Hydrangeas need an abundance of water (hydrangea means water tub in Greek), partial to full sun,and very rich soil.
Spent Hydrangea flowers should be removed as soon as possible to allow the plant to direct it's strength to growing and producing new buds rather than seeds.
If you didn't add compost to your hole when planting your Hydrangea, you might consider replanting, because they thrive in rich soil.
Fertilize liberally in the spring using a good all purpose plant food.

How and When to Prune Hydrangeas

Hydrangea macrophylla blooms from buds formed on new growth produced the previous year (old wood),
so pruning of this variety should be done immediately after blooming in early summer.
Other varieties of Hydrangeas should be pruned in late fall or early spring.
The entire Hydrangea plant can be cut back to the ground if it becomes to large,
because it will quickly regrow to it's prior size, and begin blooming again.

Propagating Hydrangea Plants

Hydrangea plants can be propagated by softwood cuttings taken in June.
Using a sharp clean knife, strip the lower half of the leaves from a 6-8 inch healthy cutting.
Dip about 3/4 inch of the cut end into a rooting hormone such as Roottone® or Hormonex®, and insert the cutting about one inch deep into sterile moist sand, vermiculite or sphagnum moss.
Create a mini-greenhouse over the container with poly film over a wire frame and place it in a bright spot (NOT full sun!) until the roots form.
After the cutting has rooted it should be planted in a mix of loam and peat moss.
Hydrangea cuttings may also root when placed in a glass of clean water.

Growing Tips and Trivia

Hydrangeas are natures own little pH tester...
In acid soil (<pH 7.0), the bloom clusters will be blue.
You'll get pink flowers if you have alkaline soil (>pH 7.0), and white blooms if your soil has a neutral pH (pH 7.0).
The flower colors can be controlled by adding aluminum sulfate to the soil prior to budding to produce or keep blue flowers; or by liming or adding quantities of superphosphate to the soil to produce the pink ones.

Hydrangeas that freeze back to the ground may never bloom, so you might have to cut them back to the ground and provide a heavy mulch to the roots prior to any hard freezes if you want to stand a chance of flowers at all.
This is not an option with H. macrophylla... they won't survive a hard freeze.

Clusters of larger flowers will be produced if the plant is thinned down to half of the original number of stems.
Alternatively, pinching out the tips of the new growth prior to budding will produce many more flowers but the clusters will be smaller.
Pee Gee Hydrangeas may grow to 25 feet tall, while the more common varieties will usually only attain 6 feet.

Hydrangea macrophylla
A Bright Blue Hydrangea in Bloom A Bigleaf Hydrangea Blooming in the Garden, Hydrangea macrophylla Hot Pink Hydrangea Flowers

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