Hydrangea bushes are shrub plants that produce a lot of colorful, large flowers during the spring and summer. The blooms stay on the plant throughout the summer, and they make a very showy landscaping bush. Hydrangea plants can grow from a height of only 1 to 3 feet to over 8 feet tall. Larger varieties make effective standalone bushes, while the smaller varieties work well as companion plants in a landscaping bed.
There are several different types of hydrangea bushes. Each bush requires slightly different care. The main varieties of hydrangea bushes are climbing hydrangeas; mophead and lacecap hydrangeas, which have blue and pink flowers; and paniculatas and arborescens hydrangeas, which have white blooms.
Blooms become massive with proper pruning and care. Hydrangeas will produce full, enormous and plentiful blooms over the entire bush. Proper care will also extend the life of the bush.
All hydrangea plants require well-drained soil, but they also require a good deal of moisture. If it does not rain for more than a week, water hydrangea plants until the water will no longer absorb into the soil. Hydrangeas prefer loamy soil.
All varieties of hydrangeas prefer cooler climates. Hydrangeas grow best in U.S. hardiness zones 4 to 6. Hydrangeas prefer climates with milder summers and somewhat mild winters. Hydrangeas prefer full sun, but many can grow in partial shade.
Fertilize hydrangea bushes each spring with a slow-release fertilizer designed for shrubs or trees. Do not touch the fertilizer to the plant itself, or apply within 6 inches of the main trunk. Spread the fertilizer out about twice the width of the plant.
Hydrangeas require little pruning. But there are some rules that help keep hydrangeas in top form. Prune bushes in June or July to maintain a smaller size. However, they will grow back quickly, so plant a hydrangea bush that does not grow larger than you want it to. Prune all dead wood every fall before the plant becomes dormant. After the plants are at least 5 years old, about a third of the older (living) stems can be removed down to the ground each summer.