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How to: grow hydrangeas


Hydrangeas are old favourites, yet myths about growing them persist. Sandra clears the air.

Myth: Hydrangeas need hard pruning every year, back to two buds.

Fact: The current season’s growth of mophead and lacecap hydrangeas should only be lightly pruned, leaving two fat leaf buds on the stem. Don’t prune into old wood. If you do your hydrangea will flower much later or not at all. Leave all growth that hasn’t flowered untouched.


Myth: Hydrangeas need full shade.

Fact: All hydrangeas bloom and grow well in morning to midday sun if they have enough water. They thrive in dappled sunshine and afternoon shade. No hydrangea will do well in heavy shade, such as that found under big trees or in the shadow of your house.


Myth: Hydrangeas won’t grow in pots.

Fact: Hydrangeas grow well in pots, especially the small varieties. Use a premium potting mix and keep them well watered through summer. Set your pot on a stand or pot feet to encourage drainage and prevent water-logging. Repot every two–three years. Plant them in plastic pots that can fit inside decorative pots and be easily removed after flowering.



Photo - Julietphotography/


A range of hydrangeas


New range of brightly coloured flowers from Japan, available at specialist nurseries.



Hydrangea petiolaris is a climbing hydrangea for cold climates - it enjoys growing on the southern side of the home.



Blue and pink flattened flower heads and larger flowers around the outside.



Full rounded flower heads like big snowballs.


PeeGee Hydrangea

This hydrangea gets its nickname from its botanical name Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ (PG). The large flower heads are shaped like a panicle (full base with pointed apex). This variety should be lightly pruned every year, as soon as the flowering is finished. This way you will have large full flowers next summer.


Oakleaf hydrangea

Oak-like leaves colour in autumn if there is enough sunshine. These hydrangeas tolerate more sun than other types and don’t require as much water.


Endless Summer

If the only thing you dislike about hydrangeas is the fact they only flower once a year, then you’ll love this new variety which you can make go deep-blue, pale-blue, deep-pink or pale-pink, depending on the pH of your soil. Look out for the new white Endless Summer.


Text: Sandra Ross

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Author: Sandra Ross