Fertilizing hydrangeas - when and how to fertilize hydrangeas (2023)

Fertilizing hydrangeas - when and how to fertilize hydrangeas (1)

Hydrangeas are a beautiful plant that add bright pops of color and a sweet, fresh scent to summer days. Hydrangeas are hardy and relatively easy to grow. There are ways to ensure your hydrangeas are big, beautiful, and healthy.

What you use as a fertilizer is just as important with hydrangeas as how the fertilizer is applied. Also, did you know that you can change the color of some hydrangeas by changing the soil? Read on to find out more.

Table of contents

The basic need of hydrangeas

Generally, hydrangeas bloom in spring, summer, and early fall. Each hydrangea species is different, however, and many things affect when and how long they bloom. For example, hydrangeas typically bloom earlier and last longer in warmer climates than in cooler climates.

How a hydrangea blooms also depends on the cut. Some hydrangea varieties bloom late or not at all if pruned in spring. Pruning in late winter often results in fewer, larger buds in the following spring and summer.

Other things that affect hydrangea flowers are overwatering and underwatering, sun exposure, and fertilization. Hydrangeas are fairly easy to grow, but to ensure you get the brightest colors and healthiest plants; It helps to know the basic needs of this beautiful flower.


One of the key factors in growing hydrangeas is using the right type of soil. Hydrangeas are hardy, which means they tolerate a lot, including a variety of soil types. But which one is the best?

(Video) Tips for Fertilizing Your Hydrangea

Clay soil is a good choice. Loam is a mixture of sand, silt and clay, usually in a 40-40-20 ratio. The sand particles are the largest and ensure that the soil is well drained and well aerated.

The clay content of the loam is really compact. It's not good for drainage or aeration, but it's much more nutritious than sand and silt.

So it's easy to see that sand and silt together make an ideal hydrangea combination. Sand keeps the soil well aerated and drained, and the clay provides the nutrients.

What is the sludge doing? It's right in the middle. It holds moisture better than sand, but doesn't have as many nutrients as clay. It helps balance the other two ingredients and creates an ideal balance for garden soil.

When planting hydrangeas in your garden, it's important to know the composition of the soil so you know what changes to make. For example, if your soil is rich in clay, add plaster of paris to break it up a bit.

If your soil is very sandy, add some peat moss. Not only does peat moss help retain moisture, but it's also packed with organic matter that encourages strong, healthy growth.


The location is very important for hydrangeas. They like lots of sun in the morning and some shade in the afternoon, although this is not a hard and fast rule.

For example, if you live in a hot, sunny climate, your hydrangeas only need about two hours of full sun in the morning and plenty of shade in the afternoon. If you live in a cooler climate, they can use a little more.

As you can see, finding the perfect location for a hydrangea bush takes some planning. However, moving your hydrangeas to a new location is not as difficult a task as you might think.

(Video) Easy guide to Pruning and Fertilizing Hydrangeas

If you want to transplant your hydrangea bush, it is best to do so in the fall, after the plant has gone dormant. At this time of year, the ground should not be hard and frozen, making it relatively easy to dig up the plant.

In warmer climates where the ground doesn't freeze, you can move them anytime after dormancy until late winter.

When the flowers have withered and most of the leaves have fallen off, it's time to move. First dig a hole where you will move the plant. Once the new location is ready, it's time to dig up the facility.

Dig directly into the soil around the root ball. Depending on the size of the plant, the roots can be large and heavy, so you may need help lifting them and moving them to the new location.

Once you've transported the plant to its new location, place it in the hole and fill it up with soil. Thoroughly soak the soil around the plant and add some compost to the soil. Then leave it until spring.

When spring arrives, water it regularly to ensure it establishes itself in its new home.


Water is an important factor when growing hydrangeas. They prefer moist soil that is not too wet. You should never let the soil dry out completely, nor should you let it get too wet.

To make this easier, you may need to make some adjustments to your watering schedule, depending on your soil type. Sandy soil dries out quickly, but adding mulch can help retain moisture. If you have loamy soil, it will hold moisture, so be careful not to overwater.

Which fertilizer for hydrangeas?

With hydrangeas (and in fact most plants) it is better to under-fertilize than over-fertilize. If you give your hydrangeas too much fertilizer, they will have excess leaves and fewer flowers. This ratio puts the plant at a higher risk of winter damage.

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If your soil is rich enough, or if you use something like organic compost on it, you may not need to fertilize your hydrangeas at all. However, in most cases you have to give them something.

TheBest optionfor Hydrangeas is an all-purpose fertilizer with an NPK of 10-10-10. Continuous release is the best choice as this will slowly release nutrients into the soil and nourish your hydrangea shrub for months to come.

When is the best time to fertilize hydrangeas?

Fertilizing hydrangeas - when and how to fertilize hydrangeas (2)

Timing is an important part of fertilizing hydrangeas, and when you fertilize them is just as important as when not.

When you should fertilize hydrangeas depends on where you live. In warmer climates, you may want to fertilize twice a year, once in late spring and again in mid-summer. In cooler climates, one application in midsummer is usually sufficient.

It's important not to fertilize your hydrangeas too late in the season. Never fertilize hydrangeas after August. Hydrangeas are dormant over the winter and naturally begin to slow down in the fall.

A late summer fertilization can encourage new growth, but that growth will not be strong enough to survive the long, cold winter.

If your soil is depleted and you want to fill it up in time for the growing season, you can apply a slow-release fertilizer in late winter or early spring instead of waiting until late spring.

How do you fertilize hydrangeas?

How you fertilize your hydrangeas depends on your soil. Ideally, you should test your soil before adding fertilizer. It's always better to underfeed than overfeed and you really don't know what your hydrangeas need unless you test the soil first.

There are many types of fertilizers for hydrangeas, but we recommend using a slow-release, granular formulation. By using this species, you ensure that your hydrangeas receive nutrients slowly and evenly over a long period of time.

(Video) Pruning & Fertilizing My Hydrangeas! ✂️🌿💚// Garden Answer

To apply, follow the directions on the container of the fertilizer you choose to get the right amount. After application, you can mix the granules into the top two to three inches of soil. Some fertilizers recommend watering in the fertilizer; others not. Follow manufacturer's directions for best results.

There are also many organic ways to fertilize hydrangeas. Some of the things you can use are:

  • Grass clippings tea. To make this fertilizer, take some grass clippings and let them soak in a large bucket of water for a few days. Then strain the clippings and apply the water to your hydrangeas. This method is a great way to add nitrogen to the soil, which your hydrangeas need to green leaves.
  • aquarium water. If you have a freshwater aquarium, save the water when you change the water and use it for your hydrangeas about once a month. Again, this adds nitrogen, but also contains fish waste, which is packed with nutrients. (Note that this only applies to freshwater tanks, not saltwater).
  • animal droppings. It's not surprising that animal manure is a good fertilizer, but you may not have known that it's a good choice for hydrangeas.
  • household compost. If you have a composter, mix some compost into the soil around your hydrangeas.
  • Vinegar. Vinegar is a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Add a teaspoon to a liter of water and apply to the roots. This method also increases soil acidity, which hydrangeas love. You can also change the color of the flowers from pink to blue by increasing the acidity of the soil.

How often to fertilize hydrangeas?

As mentioned earlier, how often you fertilize your hydrangeas depends on the climate in which you live. In a warmer climate, fertilizing twice a year is ideal. Do this once in spring and again in midsummer.

In a cooler climate, you often only need to fertilize your hydrangeas once a year in midsummer.

However, it's important to remember that the best way to figure out how and when to fertilize anything, including your hydrangeas, is to analyze your soil.soil testIt's the only way you can really know what to add to the soil to keep your hydrangeas growing strong and beautiful.


As you can see, there is a lot involved in caring for a hydrangea, although overall it is a low maintenance plant. If your plant is in the right spot, and you water and fertilize as needed, your hydrangeas should return year after year and make summer look and smell a little sweeter.

More from Garden Helpful:

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What month do you fertilize hydrangeas? ›

For optimal growth, bloom production, and quality, fertilize three times: In early spring when plants are just leafing out. In early May to boost their flower production for summer. In late June/early July to help your plants finish the summer strong.

Should hydrangeas be fertilized in fall? ›

Don't fertilize after August. Fall is the time for hydrangeas to begin preparing for dormancy. Fertilizing at this time may stimulate new growth that will be too tender to withstand the winter. In the South, a late May application and another in July would be about right.

Should you fertilize hydrangeas every year? ›

Fertilize hydrangeas twice a year, once in the early spring and again in the early summer. Most people apply fertilizer in May when the plants first start to leaf out. Then, feed them again during the growing season, which is around July. A second feeding is especially crucial in warmer climates.

Is Miracle Grow good for hydrangeas? ›

Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Bloom Booster Flower Food

This is an all-purpose blossom booster that's suitable for use on a wide variety of perennial and annual blooming plants, including hydrangeas.

Can you over fertilize hydrangeas? ›

The first rule of thumb is to NOT over-fertilize your hydrangea plants. We suggest one application of granular fertilizer in spring or early summer, and then follow package instructions afterwards. If you over-fertilize, it can burn the root system of your hydrangea bushes and actually inhibit bloom production.

What is best fertilizer for hydrangea? ›

Typically hydrangeas thrive when fed an all-purpose, balanced fertilizer like a 10-10-10 N-P-K or 12-4-8 N-P-K. To increase the size and quantity of hydrangea blooms, consider a fertilizer with more phosphorus.

What do you feed hydrangeas in the fall? ›

Remove any debris that fell off from the base of the plant. You want to make sure your soil is free of any weeds, leaves and dead flowers. If you're growing blue hydrangeas, feed with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic and the blooms bright. Otherwise, opt for Flower-tone.

Should hydrangeas be cut to the ground in the fall? ›

Fall Forward Pruning

Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood can be trimmed from fall through early spring. Smooth and peegee types are in this group and perform well whether cut to the ground, trimmed lightly or left unpruned.

Does Epsom salt help hydrangeas grow? ›

The short answer is yes it will – Epsom Salts is Magnesium sulfate and Sulfur is the mineral that we apply to the soil to lower the pH. You will also be applying Magnesium which should help enhance the color of your foliage since Magnesium is needed for chlorophyll production.

What is the best fertilizer for endless summer hydrangeas? ›

Fertilize your Endless Summer Hydrangeas in the spring with Holly-tone for blue flowers or Plant-tone and granulated lime for purple to pink flowers.

Should I cut off brown hydrangea blooms? ›

Are the blooms on your hydrangea shrubs fading or turning brown? No need to worry – this is simply a sign that it's time to remove the flowers, a process called deadheading. When you deadhead hydrangeas, you aren't harming the plants at all.

Do you have to prepare hydrangeas for winter? ›

The simplest method is to mound shredded leaves or bark mulch around the base of the plant to about 12 inches or so. Put the mulch mound in place in late fall after the ground freezes, and uncover plants in spring when temperatures begin to stay above freezing.

Should I cut off hydrangea blooms before winter? ›

1. You don't have to clip off the old flowers unless you don't like how they look. If you object to their appearance as they turn brown, by all means clip them off. Some people cut them while they're still colorful and use them for bouquets indoors.

What is the secret to growing hydrangeas? ›

Most hydrangeas will thrive in fertile, well-draining soils that receive plenty of moisture. Add compost to enrich poor soil. Generally, hydrangeas prefer partial sun. Ideally, they will be given full sun in the morning, followed by some afternoon shade to protect from the hot midday sun.

Do coffee grounds help hydrangeas grow? ›

Coffee grounds add extra acidity to the soil around hydrangeas. On a chemical level, this increased acidity makes it easier for the plant to absorb naturally occurring aluminum in the dirt. The effect is pretty blue clusters of flowers.

Is 20 20 20 good for hydrangeas? ›

And the right fertilizer will help your plants stay healthy and produce beautiful blooms throughout the growing season. Southern Ag 20-20-20 All-Purpose Granular Fertilizer is a top fertilizer that will work for any hydrangea.

How often should I Fertilise hydrangeas? ›

Most hydrangeas don't need much extra fertiliser, but woody plant guru Michael Dirr, a retired University of Georgia horticulture professor, says you can apply a balanced slow-release fertiliser in late winter to early spring. Be careful: If you apply too much fertiliser, you might get more leaves than blooms.

How do you winterize hydrangeas? ›

How to Winterize Hydrangeas
  1. Clean up your fall garden. Late fall is an ideal time to clear an excess of organic matter out of your garden. ...
  2. Water before the first frost. ...
  3. Lightly prune the plants. ...
  4. Add a thick layer of mulch. ...
  5. Wrap with winter protection.
Feb 11, 2022

How far do you cut back hydrangeas in the fall? ›

To reduce the size of a hydrangea that blooms on new wood, cut off about one-third of each stem in late fall or early spring before it begins to leaf out. If your hydrangea blooms on old wood, prune right after it has bloomed when the flowers are fading.

Is it better to prune hydrangeas in fall or spring? ›

The structure of hydrangea stems means that it's best to leave cutting back until spring. This is because the stems are cork-like, rather than woody, and hold enough moisture inside them during winter for this to freeze in frosty weather.

Can I cut back hydrangeas in October? ›

When to prune? Prune these hydrangeas only after bloom in the summer and not in the fall. Old wood hydrangeas start developing their bloom buds for next year in August and September. If you don't prune your hydrangeas real soon, then it is better to wait until next year.

What happens if you don't prune hydrangeas? ›

If you don't prune hydrangeas then they can eventually resemble a tangled mass of woody stems, and the flowers will become smaller and less showy. If your hydrangeas are not blooming, lack of pruning is often a reason.

What time of year do you split hydrangeas? ›

The best time to divide bigleaf hydrangeas is very early spring, just as new green buds are starting to swell and open along the stems. We're a little past that now. A second good time is mid to late fall. Keep divisions consistently damp and treat them as you would a new plant.

What does vinegar do to hydrangeas? ›

Hydrangea flowers will be pink in alkaline soil, but change to blue in acidic soil. So, mix up some apple cider vinegar and water, and give all the acid-loving plants a treat. Or change colors of your hydrangeas on a whim from pink to blue.

Does sugar water help hydrangeas? ›

Add 1/4 cup of sugar to room temperature water. This helps to feed the hydrangeas' stems. Add a few pumps of hand soap to the water. Soap helps to keep bacteria way.

Does pickle juice help hydrangeas? ›

Use pickle juice in your flower beds to perk up your acid-loving flowers! Flowers such as hydrangea and rhododendron need acidic soil to thrive. And the best part, no toxic chemicals!

Should you cut old blooms off Endless summer hydrangeas? ›

"Bigleaf hydrangeas, such as Endless Summer, should be deadheaded when the first set of flowers sprouts from last year's growth in the spring, as it eliminates the faded flowers before the next flush appears," she explains.

How do you winterize endless summer hydrangeas? ›

Fall/Winter Care

Cover the plant with a four-inch layer of organic mulch (wood mulch, leaves, etc.). There is no need to cover all stems to the tip or to cut them back. Covering should be done when fully dormant (around November 30th), or at the same time you would cover perennials in your garden.

Is 12 4 8 a good fertilizer? ›

A complete fertilizer, such as 16-4-8, 12-6-6 or 12-4-8, is generally recommended, unless the soil test reveals that phosphorus and potassium are adequate.

What happens if you cut hydrangeas to the ground? ›

If your oakleaf hydrangea is very old and woody, take out a few of the oldest, thickest stems all the way to the ground in the early spring to encourage some new growth. Don't cut the entire plant to the ground, as you'll both stress the plant and lose a whole season of blooms.

Where do you cut deadheading hydrangeas? ›

The best time to deadhead is when the first set of blooms on your hydrangeas begin to turn brown and dry. Cut the stem below the flower head and just above the first set of leaves. For reblooming types, you can deadhead again when this second set begins to fade, but only through mid-August or so.

What happens if you prune hydrangeas too much? ›

While deadheading your hydrangeas can be helpful for new growth, Myers says too much pruning can be detrimental. "If you cut 'Annabelle' varieties all the way back to the ground, all of the energy stored in the roots will go into producing above ground growth that is often too weak to support the blooms," she explains.

How do I make my hydrangeas bushier? ›

As a young plant, it is best to prune or pinch your plant in order to build a full bodied, well-branched plant. Every time you cut off the growing tip of a plant, you get twice as many branches and thus in the long-run, more flowers.

Does baking soda help hydrangeas bloom? ›

The plants begin to produce fuller and healthier blooms. If your hydrangeas just aren't wowing you like they should, give baking soda a try. And while you're at it, try baking soda in the rest of your garden!

How do I get my Endless summer hydrangeas to bloom? ›

How do you keep Endless Summer hydrangeas blooming? The best location to ensure continuous bloom is one where the plant receives morning sun and afternoon dappled shade. In too much sun, they might stop blooming.

What is best fertilizer for hydrangeas? ›

Typically hydrangeas thrive when fed an all-purpose, balanced fertilizer like a 10-10-10 N-P-K or 12-4-8 N-P-K. To increase the size and quantity of hydrangea blooms, consider a fertilizer with more phosphorus.

Can you fertilize hydrangeas when they are blooming? ›

If your hydrangeas bloom in late spring and early summer, you want to give the second dose just before they unfold their blooms. The same goes for those that bloom in late summer / early fall – once again giving them their second dose just as they begin to flower.

Do coffee grounds help hydrangeas? ›

If you're growing hydrangeas, use coffee grounds to affect their color. Coffee grounds add extra acidity to the soil around hydrangeas. On a chemical level, this increased acidity makes it easier for the plant to absorb naturally occurring aluminum in the dirt. The effect is pretty blue clusters of flowers.

Should I water hydrangeas morning or night? ›

Water your hydrangeas in the morning before the heat of the sun is strong enough to quickly evaporate soil moisture.

Should you water hydrangeas every day? ›

The hydrangea should be watered thoroughly at least 3 times a week. Always water the plant all the way around the container, not just in one place. Water should come out the bottom of the pot. Never let it sit in water which will cause the roots to rot away.


1. How to Care for a Hydrangea - Pruning & Fertilizing My Hydrangea - Feed Hydrangea and More.
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2. How to Fertilize a Hydrangea Plant || Many types of Fertilizer for Hydrangea with Some Care Tips
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3. Should I Fertilize Hydrangeas in Fall?
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4. Q&A | Soil | Hydrangeas | Fertilizer
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5. How To Fertilize Hydrangeas|Wake Them Up This Season|Flower Gardening
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6. PETITTI How to Prune and Fertilize a Macrophylla Hydrangea
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