Nothing says summer like the soft, pillowy pom-poms of a blooming hydrangea bush. But those balls of cheerful color are a lot more interesting than you might think. While hydrangeas are quite common, they’re grown virtually everywhere from Asia to the American continent. And with 70 to 75 varieties of the plant, you’re sure to find one that suits your home – and your fancy.

Choosing your hydrangea

With so many varieties available, you might wonder which hydrangea is best for you. That’s why it’s always a good idea to consult a gardening expert – like Russ Bedner, owner and operator of Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse.

Bedner explained that the myriad hydrangea species can be grouped into five main varieties: smooth leaf, big leaf, panicle leaf, climbing leaf and oak leaf. Each variety is unique in its requirements for sunlight, so be sure you make your selection based on where you plan to place your bush.

“The big-leaf varieties actually require less sun, so eastern exposure is the best,” Bedner said. “Sun exposure from sunrise to noon or 1 p.m. is ideal for them. The oak leaf varieties will take a full day of sun if you can give it to them.”

Watering your hydrangea

With all that sunlight, it’s no wonder the plant requires a good deal of water. According to Bedner, most hydrangeas require an inch of water per week, but keep in mind that could change when the weather heats up.

“If it’s hot in the summer, you can even double that,” he said. “So you can split it up – 1 inch on Monday and 1 inch on Thursday, just to give them proper moisture.”

You’ll also want to mulch your hydrangea to help it retain that moisture.

“A 2-inch layer around your plant is best,” Bedner said.

Pruning your hydrangea

The beauty of a good hydrangea plant is that you can enjoy its blooms year after year. Of course, depending on the variety you choose, you’ll want to keep it properly pruned.

“Keep in mind that hydrangeas bloom off old wood,” Bedner said. That means you’ll want to be careful when pruning away old growth. However, some of the newer big-leaf varieties bloom on both old and new wood.

If you’re having trouble getting your hydrangea to bloom, try using a super phosphate right before it rains to encourage blooming.

Color your hydrangea

Don’t like your hydrangea’s hue? Change it. These plants are unique in that you can actually change the color of your bloom.

“The more acidic the soil, the darker blue you’ll get,” Bedner said. “You can put an acidifier in the soil. If you want flowers in the pink range, use lime in the soil. Purple colors require a happy medium between the two.”

Getting to know your hydrangeas

Want to know more about everyone’s favorite summer flower? Stop by Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse June 10-30 for its annual hydrangea festival.



This article is sponsored by Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse.

A journalism graduate from Brigham Young University, Kristen Price has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.