How to Care for Hydrangea Macrophylla


Hydrangea macrophylla includes the mophead and lacecap varieties. Also known as bigleaf hydrangea because of its large leaves, Hydrangea macrophylla grows rapidly and produces blooms from summer into fall. The mophead variety produces almost spherical blooms in blue or pink. The domed-shaped bloom of lacecap displays with a circle of tiny flowers surrounded by a ring of larger flowers. Hydrangea macrophylla is hardy to USDA zone 6. With even minimal care, Hydrangea macrophylla can produce blooms for cutting, drying or just enjoying on the shrub as their color fades.

Step 1

Prune in late winter or early spring to shape or thin out the shrub. Look for merging buds and cut above them on a 45 degree angle. Pruning out one-third of the old cane provides more room for blooms that will appear in a few months.

Step 2

Apply a time-release fertilizer specifically designed for hydrangea in early spring and again in the fall.

Step 3

Cover the plant with a sheet in spring if freezing temperatures return. The sheet may protect the buds from frost damage, which could prevent blooms from opening.

Step 4

Maintain several inches of mulch around the shrub, extending beyond its width. Keep the area under and around the shrub weeded.

Step 5

Cut blooms as they fade, if desired, or leave them to turn a purplish color. Before mid-September, prune out weaker cane down at the base of the shrub. Weaker cane will be thin and may droop.

Step 6

Remove branches damaged, possibly by wind or ice. Make the cut about 6 inches beneath the break. Brown spots on the leaves are indications of a fungus. Fungus will usually show in the fall. Cut off leaves affected by fungus.

Step 7

Water hydrangea every 7 to 10 days when there is no saturating rainfall.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruners
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • U.S. National Arboretum: Hydrangea Q&A
  • University of Rhode Island: Hydrangea General Care
Keywords: hydrangea macrophylla, mophead, lacecap

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas's favorite pursuits are home improvement, landscape design, organic gardening and blogging. Her Internet writing appears on SASS Magazine, AT&T and various other websites. Raskauskas is active in the small business she and her husband have owned since 2000 and is a former MS Office instructor.