FAQ, Living

Hydrangea Tips for Beautiful Blooms

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Listen. I am no gardener. I can keep a very limited amount of very specific (read: hard to kill) plants alive [evidence HERE 😉], but I would like to learn! We have two groupings of hydrangeas at our house, one on the east side and one on the south. Pretty sure the plants on the east side were pruned too far back, and thus they’ve stopped blooming. I don’t want to mess up the new blue hydrangeas on the south side of the house, so I turned to my Instagram buddies [HERE] for guidance. Here are their top hydrangea tips for beautiful blooms!

  1. Watering DO: water 2-3 times a week in hot months using a soaker hose laid under the mulch, but don’t over water. Check to see that soil is moist NOT soaking wet, otherwise the hydrangeas can drown. Sadness!
  2. Watering DON’T: Don’t water during the sunny part of the day – the water will evaporate and/or if it’s on the leaves and blooms, they can burn easily. (Thus, use the soaker hose.)
  3. To prune or not to prune…that is the question: In the fall, do NOT cut the old stems back. New growth (mostly) happens on old wood. Get ready for an ugly bunch of sticks in the fall, but it’ll be worth it in the spring when blooms appear!
  4. Bloom colors: The acidity in the soil can affect the color. Many recommended using coffee grounds to change the color! Need to research this more.
  5. Wilting: It’s okay if they wilt in direct sunlight as long as the bounce back in the evening. But that might also mean they need more water, too.
  6. Sunlight/location consensus: Plant hydrangeas where they will get some morning sun or dappled sun. Too much shade = few blooms. Too much sun = scorched plants.

(Wilting in the afternoon sun, but they’ll perk up in the evening. Do yours do this too?

Tip for cut flowers:

I do have one cut hydrangea trick I learned from my MIL. Before you put the stem in water, clip it at a diagonal and quickly dip it in alum, a pickling spice that helps draw water up into the flower. When I forget this step, my cut hydrangeas definitely don’t last as long. Not really sure on the science behind it, but it’s an inexpensive and easy step for longer lasting hydrangea bouquets!

dip in alum for beautiful blooms

Do you guys have any other tips or tricks? Do you agree with my IG buddies advice above? I’m sure so much of this has to do with the specific type of hydrangea plant and the zone in which you live, but this is a start, at least! I really want to learn to keep these beauties alive and blooming, so hopefully these hydrangea tips for beautiful blooms will help you, too!

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  1. Erin says:

    It must be the type of hydrangea, because I typically prune mine in the late winter ( including the old growth) and have beautiful bushes the next spring. The blooms do develop on the old growth, but there is nothing to stop you from clipping that back if your bushes are getting bigger than you would prefer. You just need to do it early enough not to inhibit bud growth. Btw, I use YouTube to learn about a lot of my plants and how to care for them. It helps this visual learner SO much!

  2. Leslie says:

    Who doesn’t love hydrangeas, right?? Gosh, no matter the color, they are always gorgeous! One tip I want to share is for cut hydrangeas. If they start looking droopy, you may be able to revive them by laying the entire stem in a tub of water. I was skeptical at first, but it’s worked for 75% of my blooms that have gone limp.

  3. Terri says:

    If cut blooms wilt – bring some water to a boil, then soak stems in the hot water for 10 mins. You’ll think you’re gonna melt/cook the stems, but I’ve done it more than once and it really does work! I think I read this too in Southern Living.

  4. Amy says:

    Oh, love the tip about alum! I’m definitely going to try that in the future. I need to learn more about how the soil can change the color. I planted two pink hydrangeas at our last house. When they bloomed for the first time a couple of years later, one was the darkest purple you can imagine, and the other was an incredibly dark pink. They were gorgeous! I even had people comment that they had never seen hydrangeas those colors before. I’d love to be able to replicate it!

  5. Jill says:

    I recently learned that once your cut blooms start wilting you can rejuvenate them by putting the woody stems in boiling water. This melts the sap in the stems (it hardens the longer they are cut and blocks the flow of water to the blooms). So boil the water, and let them sit there on the counter for a few hours. Then cut off a couple inches of the stem and enjoy your flowers longer. Mine lasted for over a week by doing this a few times!

  6. Hi Erin! Just saw hydrangea tips on @farmshenanigans. They really soak up water, and we are to snap off all the leaves before popping them in a vase. Use other greenery if needed, but take off the leaves. And always make a new fresh cut before putting the stem in water. Even if you cut them minutes before! The inside of the stem seals up right away and prevents the plant from drinking its water. Also rec making a cut lengthwise up the stem to create more surface area for the plant to absorb water. (I’ve even heard of people smashing the end of the stem with a hammer 😳, probably accomplishing the same thing. And years ago Laurie @glamfarmhouse would dip wilty stems into boiling water for a minute (double 😳😳), maybe to open up the sealed ‘pores’ of the stem to absorb more water? It seemed to work for her every time! Her cut blooms lasted quite a while (and come to think of it, I don’t recall hers having any leaves either…🤔). This farmer stuff is a huge learning curve- just enjoy. We all have little hiccups along the way. Each yard has its own microclimates, breeze patterns, etc…. and when you get it figured out a tree will blow over and there goes the shade garden!! Always changing. Just have fun 🙋🏼‍♀️

  7. LIssa says:

    Great advise! Once you cut the blooms you can make a slice upward to allow them to get more water- they drink so much water! And when they get a little wilty dip the bloom in cold water to perk it back up.

  8. Debra L Barnes says:

    Ok im learning about hydrangeas also. My first one i cut way back. Have had it for 4 years now. Beautiful leaves no blooms. So will this never bloom again? Anything I can give it to make it bloom? Please help!

    Thank you for any advice!

  9. Tiffany Lindsey says:

    Also, you can put orange peels around your hydrangeas to make the soil more acidic. Just move the mulch back a bit and put the orange peels right in the soil. And move the mulch back over them. We eat a lot of cuties in our house so we do this!

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