Caring for Hydrangeas after Blooming: Deadheading, Pruning, Watering, Mulching, Fertilization, Frost Protection, Dividing and Transplanting

Caring for Hydrangeas after Blooming: Deadheading, Pruning, Watering, Mulching, Fertilization, Frost Protection, Dividing and Transplanting

Hydrangeas are beautiful flowering plants that can bring color and life to any garden. While they are relatively low-maintenance, they still require some care after they bloom to ensure they stay healthy and continue to thrive. In this article, we will explore what you should and shouldn’t do to care for hydrangeas after they bloom.

1. Deadheading:
After your hydrangeas have finished blooming, it’s important to remove the faded blooms. This process is known as deadheading and helps the plant redirect its energy into producing new growth rather than producing seeds. To deadhead a hydrangea, simply cut the faded blooms back to just above the nearest healthy bud or leaf.

2. Pruning:
Hydrangeas have different flowering patterns, so pruning requirements may vary depending on the type of hydrangea you have. For smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) and oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia), it’s best to prune them in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This allows the plant to grow vigorously during the growing season. On the other hand, bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) should not be pruned in late winter or early spring as they bloom on old wood. Instead, prune them immediately after they finish blooming. This will give the plant time to develop new flower buds for next year’s blooms.

3. Watering:
Hydrangeas require regular watering, especially during hot and dry periods. The soil should be kept consistently moist, but not waterlogged. It’s important to water deeply, ensuring the water reaches the plant’s root system. Using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system can help deliver water directly to the roots while minimizing water waste through evaporation.

4. Mulching:
Mulching is essential for hydrangeas, as it helps conserve moisture, suppresses weed growth, and improves the overall health of the plant. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, around the base of the plant. Make sure to keep the mulch a few inches away from the stem to prevent rotting. Mulching also helps protect the plant’s roots from extreme temperature fluctuations during winter.

5. Fertilization:
Fertilizing hydrangeas after they bloom can help promote healthy growth and abundant blooms for the following year. Use a balanced slow-release fertilizer formulated for flowering shrubs or a fertilizer specifically designed for hydrangeas. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for the correct application rate and timing. Avoid overfertilizing, as this can result in excessive leaf growth at the expense of flower production.

6. Protecting from Frost:
In colder climates, hydrangeas may require protection from frost during the winter months. Before the first frost arrives, you can cover the plant with a breathable fabric, such as burlap, to shield it from freezing temperatures. This will help prevent damage to the plant’s stems and buds. Make sure to remove the covering once the threat of frost has passed.

7. Dividing and Transplanting:
If your hydrangeas become overcrowded or outgrow their current location, you can divide and transplant them in early spring or late fall when the plant is dormant. Dig up the entire plant and carefully divide it into smaller sections, making sure each section has roots and healthy shoots. Replant the divisions in a new location with well-draining soil and provide adequate water until they establish themselves.

My 2 Cents:

Caring for hydrangeas after they bloom involves a few simple steps that can make a big difference in the plant’s health and future blooms. Deadheading, pruning at the right time, proper watering, mulching, fertilizing, protecting from frost, and dividing when necessary are all essential practices to keep your hydrangeas looking vibrant and beautiful. By following these tips, you can enjoy your hydrangeas for years to come. So go ahead, get your gardening gloves on, and give your hydrangeas the care they deserve!