Hydrangeas Make Great Flowering Hedges

The photo is of a hydrangea hedge that's in full bloom now and will be just perfect for Christmas and through January. A lot of people ask me why their hydrangeas don't flower until later in the summer around late January to February. It's basically because you have pruned it wrong to encourage early season flowering. Generally the gardeners who get in and give their hydrangeas a severe prune in the middle of each winter are cutting off the winter dormant early season buds.

I like to have our hydrangeas looking their best through November - January because that's the time of year we do most of our entertaining and want the garden to look at its best. So to have early hydrangea flowers, you need to prune your bushes at the end of February. This will give the hydrangea plant enough time to regrow a full set of new stems and foliage before it starts to go dormant in early May. The plant will sit there happily over the winter and every new branch will have a dormant flower bud sitting on the top. This will open in spring and develop into a bloom for early summer flowering from November.

Remember – if you want really good blue flowers, you must feed your hydrangeas in the middle of winter with aluminium sulphate (this nutrient is more readily avaliable in acidic soils). Feed in July and September by putting a handful around each mature plant while it's dormant. This will give the plant enough time to pick up the necessary alumnium trace element through its root system and travel up the stems and into the dormant bud. When the flower opens, you will have the most fabulous blue coloured blooms. Same procedure applies if you want pink/red hydrangeas blooms, except you apply lime to the soil and do at the same time of the year when the hydrangeas are dormant. If you have white flowering hydrangeas, don't worry about adding nutrients to them because you cannot change their bloom colour.

One helpful tip – if you buy a beautiful flowering pink or blue hydrangea in a plant shop and want to keep this wonderful bloom colour, you must keep applying each year the trace elements that I indicated above. Not doing this may revert it to a wishy washy colour because the soil PH is neither acidic or alkaline.

Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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