The hydrangea is a deciduous flowering shrub that blooms in late spring, holding its blooms through early to mid fall. The shrub blooms in colors of blue, pink and white. The foliage grows with a leathery texture and appears in colors of dark green to burgundy.
Select the planting location for the hydrangea. Choose a location that provides four to six hours of direct sunlight in a partially shaded, well-drained area. Eastern exposure will provide the hydrangea with ample amounts of morning sunlight without burning the foliage.
Check the soil pH levels of the selected planting area to determine the blooming color of the hydrangea. Hydrangeas thrive in acidic to neutral soil. Change the color potential by adjusting the pH levels. Increase acidic levels for blue blooms. Promote alkaline soil by adding lime for pink blooms. Balance pH levels to neutral levels for white blooms.
Plant the hydrangea in the selected planting area. Dig a hole that is at least twice as wide and as deep as the root system. Place the shrub into the hole and firmly pack the soil around the plant's diameter.
Water the hydrangea lightly. Provide the shrub with about an inch of water each week. Increase the watering schedule during the hot, dry summer months. Avoid overwatering the shrub because doing so will cause wilting, dieback and root diseases.
Protect the hydrangea from weed invasions and keep its soil moist. Lay a thin layer of mulch over the shrub's root base. The layer should be no more than 2 inches thick. Increase the thickness of the mulch for winter protection. Use a 6-inch layer of mulch around the shrub, and wrap the shrub with burlap.
Feed the hydrangea twice annually, once in the early spring and again during midsummer. Use a granular, slow-release fertilizer and distribute it evenly around the shrub's diameter. Select a fertilizer that meets the selected color requirement. Select a highly acidic fertilizer for blue blooms. Use neutral fertilizer and add lime for pink flowers. Use a neutral, well-balanced fertilizer for white blooms. Choose a high-phosphorus selection to increase the overall blooms on the shrub.
Remove spent flowers from midsummer through fall. Dead-head the spent flowers and trim down the stalks to promote new bud growth. Prune away winter-damaged and weak branches during the early spring. Cut back half of its height and remove at least one-fourth of its oldest branches to improve air circulation and strengthen growth.