Knowing a few plant tips will help when caring for your macrophyla (bigleaf) hydrangea:
Wilting doesn’t always mean water. High heat, humidity and direct sun during the hottest time of day can cause the leaves on the hydrangea to ‘flag’ (droop or wilt). Best practice is to check the soil before watering. Water the plant only if the soil is dry. Check the soil with your fingers by sticking them a few inches into the soil at the base of the plant. Overwatering is the major cause of plant decline as it literally suffocates and rots the root system. Also, know that macrophylla prefer shade to part shade – early morning sun, dappled afternoon shade. Picking the right location is best.
Practice Pruning Patience: Macrophylla are very late to leaf out in the spring. It is a misconception that the stems of the plant are dead. Typically the plant flushes new grown at the base first, then as spring warms up the stems will show signs of life from the base outward. Here in New England, it can be mid June before leaves emerge on the upper most part of the canes. Resist the desire to prune away the naked stems too early as flowers are produced on both new and old wood.
Fertilize For Fitness: Overfertilizing can burn the root system, so it’s best to fertilize only in the spring. Look for a bloom- booster fertilizer that is high in phosphorus.
Winter Warmth: New England winters have become extreme. Snow is a perfect insulator for plants against the fluxuating freeze and thaw of early spring, lack of it leaves plants unprotected. Thinking that it is time to wake up during a warm temperature spike, flower buds, and sometimes the whole plant, will succumb to winter kill when temps plummet again. To help protect against Mother Nature’s indecision, use 12-18 inches of mulch to protect buds, especially for new plants that haven’t been in the ground very long.
Want timely care reminders? Text ENDLESSSUMMER to 99000. The Endless Summer Collection just made maintaining these elegant flowers even easier via a text message program that provides regular reminders and tips delivered right to your mobile device.
*Courtesy of Endless Summer Garden Design Blog