Hydrangeas and Me


Judith King

I love hydrangeas, and maybe you do too. I live in Northern Virginia where all types of hydrangeas grow beautifully.

I developed an appreciation for hydrangeas while working for a plant nursery and wholesale grower in South Carolina many years ago. At that time the nursery was growing over 75 varieties of hydrangeas.

My website, ALL ABOUT HYDRANGEAS, (http://hydrangeashydrangeas.com) was started in 2001. Since then the site has grown to become the number one site on hydrangeas on the web.

I love getting email with questions about hydrangeas and have talked with hundreds of people about their hydrangeas. So this blog will be a place where we can discuss all aspects of hydrangeas and hopefully we can find answers to our hydrangea problems. If you have a question, just throw it out here, and we’ll get you some answers.

—-Judith King


24 Responses to “Hydrangeas and Me”

  1. Kathy Fondren Says:

    I live in West Texas (about halfway between Amarillo and Lubbock and love hydrangeas. My Grandmother used to have them in North Central Texas and they were beautiful. Will they grow in West Texas? or where can I go to find out. I’m not much of a gardner, but would love to plant some and give it a try. Just wanted to know before I invest the $. I appreciate any help you may be able to offer.
    Kathy Fondren

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Kathy,

      You are smart to do your research before putting a lot of money into any major plantings.

      Texas is such a big state that growing conditions vary greatly from one place to another. Hydrangeas grow beautifully in East Texas and parts of Central Texas. For instance, Texarkana has thousands of very large blooming hydrangeas while Waco has no more than a handful. The main problem in Waco is that the soil is too alkaline. Hydrangeas need a soil that is slightly acid. Ideally, the pH should be close to 5.2-6.2.

      I don’t know if you can grow hydrangeas well in West Texas. The best way to find out is to (1) go to a reputable plant nursery and talk with the most knowledgeable person there, and (2) have a soil test done in the beds where you plan to plant hydrangeas. The pH should be close to 5.2-6.2.

      When choosing a spot to plant your hydrangeas, locate an area that receives only morning sun (or bright shade all day) and is protected from high winds (West Texas sun and wind are notorious for taking the energy out of a plant).

      Best of luck. I hope you find good conditions for growing hydrangeas. They can be so rewarding.


  2. Jen Says:

    Hi Judith,

    I love hydrangeas and I love your website! I am not much of a plant person, have never gardened before and have always thought that I have a brown thumb…

    That being said, I’ve decided that I’d like to start a garden in our new home and I would like to start with hydrangeas.

    We were wondering if hydrangeas are deep-rooted and do we have to worry about root growth getting our of hand (some old plants at the house we just moved into had this problem)?

    Also, I originally wanted to plant them in containers but we decided that we will just create a planter by putting up a retaining wall like structure where we can plant them in… would this be ideal?

    I love the picture that you have of the blue hydrangeas with the little girl… do they really grow that big eventually? Should we plant them far away from each other to encourage this growth?

    Thank you so much!


    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Jen,

      Thanks for writing and for the kind words about my site. I’m glad you enjoyed visiting it.

      Your idea of creating a planter with a retaining wall is an excellent idea and will be MUCH better than trying to grow hydrangeas in pots. The retaining wall will form an area similar to a raised bed, and there is no better place to garden than in a raised bed.

      Hydrangea roots are fibrous balls that don’t cause any damage to foundations or other structures.

      You don’t say where you live, but the soil and climate will determine the size your hydrangeas will obtain and the success you will have growing hydrangeas. Hydrangeas do not grow well in areas that do not receive freezing weather. Also, if you live in an area that is extremely cold in the winter (such as Minnesota) you will have to grow either ‘Endless Summer’ or ‘Blushing Bride’ hydrangeas. Unlike most other hydrangeas, these two hydrangeas will bloom in places where hydrangeas are often killed to the ground in winter. Note in 2014: There are now many more ever-blooming hydrangeas to choose from.

      I hope this helps.

  3. Dona Stanley Says:

    Hello Judith,
    I just moved to a house located in Ontario Canada and inherited a long neglected garden that I just knew had great “bones”. While hacking and sawing away at invasive mint, 6ft tall thistles, huge lamb’s ear, queen’s anne lace and more monstrous monsters, to my delight I discovered some great hidden plants and most exciting of all, a 5ft tall PG hydrangea! Unfortunately, only the top 10inches of the plant had scant leaves (and some blooms) because the lower portion was so choked by an ornamental grass. The shrub’s naked branches were quite numerous and of good thickeness. How can I get the whole plant to grow blooms again? Would you suggest pruning the top branches for a couple of years? Your expertise is sincerely welcome to me and this struggling beauty.
    Thank you, Dona

    • hydrangeashoh Says:


      Congratulation on finding a surprise 5 ft tall PG hydrangea in your yard. That’s amazing. I’m not sure I can picture your plant and just how healthy it is. Hopefully, the part of the plant without leaves is still in good health. The main thing you can do for this hydrangeas is to clear out everything you can around it – grass, weeds, other unwanted shrubs and trees. This will give it more light and air. PGs need several hours of sunlight a day to bloom, so hopefully it will have enough sun. You can prune off any branches, twigs or stems that you feel are not healthy. You could even cut off ALL the stems and twigs except the larger branches. This won’t hurt the plant. Make sure there are no blooms forming before pruning because I think this is the time for PGs to bloom in your area (or a week or so later). The next step is to make sure it is well watered and fertilized. If your area gets plenty of rain, that won’t be a problem, but if it gets dry at times, really soak the ground regularly until the plant comes back.

      Good luck with this hydrangea. I hope it ends up blooming prolifically in a year or two.


  4. Joan fairbanks Says:

    I live in northern virginia and as of today, April 24, there’s not a bud on a stalk of any of my hydrangeas other than the limelight variety. Does this mean the cold killed them down to the ground?

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Joan, I’m afraid that all the branches on your hydrangea have died. I’m seeing this all over my area which is also Northern Virginia. However, most of the hydrangeas are coming up from the ground, meaning that few hydrangeas will bloom this year, but they should bloom next year. Some newer varieties will set new blooms on the growth from the ground and bloom this summer, but most hydrangeas will not do this. Good luck. Judith

  5. Linda Khan Says:

    I live in Fairfax Virginia and have many large hydrangeas mostly lace cap. I trimmed the old flowers at the tips in early march and there were many potential leaf buds on the stems. It is now May 7 and no leaves have developed on the stems, only some at the base. Are the branches dead? Do I have to cut them to the ground? Will them come back?

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Linda, hopefully they will come back. BUt if hydrangeas come up mainly from the ground, they will probably fail to bloom this year. But most likely, they will bloom next year if we have a better winter. See this page, http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/wont_bloom.html , for a picture and explanation of what has happened to your hydrangeas. Good luck, Judith P.S. Also, note the answer to the question directly below this one.

  6. Jimmy Gray Says:

    I live in Charles town WV and we would like to plant some hydrangeas around the back of our house. The area is moderately shady and gets a few hours of partial sun is the afternoon. Any suggestions on which species may do well in this area as we love them all. Thank you

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Jimmy, I looked at the website of Charles Town (trying to get an idea of your climate), and it looks like a great little town to live in. As for hydrangeas – In my opinion, your very best bet would be the Oakleaf hydrangeas since they could take the afternoon sun without burning (unlike Annabelle or some of the mopheads), and they don’t need a lot of sun to develop blooms like paniculata would. Snowflake (oakleaf) blooms, by far, the longest. I always plant Snowflake. But if you prefer a bloom that keeps it’s head up, any of the other oakleaf hydrangeas would be fine. On the other hand, if that partial sun in the afternoon is not very hot, more like dappled or indirect, or if your climate is mild in the summer, any of the hydrangeas would be just fine except the paniculata which needs full sun for 5 hours to bloom well. If your winters are very cold or last a long time, and you want to plant a pink or blue mophead, be careful which ones you choose. If they say “blooms early” or “Teller series” then they would easily succumb to late spring freezes, and you’d never see a bloom. One of the Cityline or Forever and Ever series might be just the ticket. Good luck. I hope you find just the right hydrangea. – Judith

  7. Joe S. Says:

    Hello Judith. How does one go about getting a link on your hydrangea page?

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Joe S., In about 5 months I will have an updated site. At that time I will offer links for a reasonable rate. Right now I am not adding new links to the old site.

      Thanks for checking, Judith

  8. Barbara Bejna Says:

    Hi. I just moved to Madison, WI and I am trying to find the perfect hydrangea for my yard. My landscape architect recommends that I get one that will be 4-5 feet at maturity. As I want one with cone shaped flowers, preferably white or pale green, she has suggested White Diamond or Little Lime. My limited research of these varieties tells me that at least the White Diamond has an upright structure. I much prefer the hydrangea bushes that droop, looking more relaxed. I had one of these once a long time ago but don’t remember which cultivar it was. Can anybody suggest a small, droopy bush with white panicles? Thanks, Barbara

    Also, I’m not at all sure I am posting in the right place on this site. If not, can someone please help me?

  9. Barbara Bejna Says:

    Hi. I just moved to Madison, WI and I am trying to find the perfect hydrangea for my yard. My landscape architect recommends that I get one that will be 4-5 feet at maturity. As I want one with cone shaped flowers, preferably white or pale green, she has suggested White Diamond or Little Lime. My limited research of these varieties tells me that at least the White Diamond has an upright structure. I much prefer the hydrangea bushes that droop, looking more relaxed. I had one of these once a long time ago but don’t remember which cultivar it was. Can anybody suggest a small, droopy bush with white panicles? Thanks, Barbara

    Also, I’m not at all sure I am posting in the right place on this site. If not, can someone please help me?

  10. Kim Smith Says:

    Please help. We moved into a new house 2 yrs ago. There is a huge hydrangea on the side of the house. We moved into the house in the fall and cut all the dead stems off the hydrangea. The following year I only got 3 or 4 booms (different colors) on a plant that was literally 6 feet tall and looked healthy. I found your web site and this past fall DID NOT cut off the dead stems. Was hoping for great bloom this year! Bush is huge again but this year no blooms and now it’s mid August. It was probably our coldest winter ever – was that why it didn’t bloom, or did I do something wrong?

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Kim, I’m afraid it’s going to take one more year before you will know if your hydrangea is a bloomer or not. This year only about 10% of hydrangeas had more than 2-3 blooms on them on the east coast. I drove around our Northern Virgina city and found only a few small shrubs with a few blooms on them. All the beautiful hydrangeas I was used to seeing covered in blooms had NO blooms on them. I believe this was due to a very late spring freeze that hit the east coast in April or May. So, continue to be patient with your hydrangea and don’t prune it. Next year it should bloom in June. If it does not, and everyone else’s DOES, you can assume you have a dud. Ask a few people you know if their hydrangeas bloomed this year, then ask again next year if yours doesn’t bloom. That should tell you a lot. Good luck. – Judith

  11. winnifred workman Says:

    Is there such a thing as a mimiature pee gee hydrangea? I would like something that doesn’t get over 6 ft if poss. Live in central IL. I would like to have one in remembrance of my mother and the home we grew up in. There was always one in our yard, we thought it was a snowball tree till I started searching for one. The tree was there when we moved in and was killed by a neighbor about 2 yrs ago. I was 2, 2 yrs ago I was 58. The tree was well over yrs old. All the neighborhood kids grew up playing under it for all those yrs. In 2010 a neighbor used the beatiful blooms to decorate for one of her children’s wedding.

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Yes, there are beautiful dwarf PGs that have recently been developed and are on the market. I have one that is called ‘Little Lime.’ I’ve seen others in our community that appear to stay less than 3 feet, but I can’t yet confirm they will stay that small. Mine is small and bushy in a pot. It is about 18-24″ after several years. Also PGs are easier to keep pruned than the blue and pink hydrangeas because you can prune them down as far as you’d like almost any time of the year (when they do not have blooms developing or blooming). Do a search for dwarf paniculata hydrangeas and see what you come up with. Good luck.

  12. Nancy Griffin Says:

    Hi Judith. On one of your sites you requested a picture of a starlight Panicle hydrangea. Are you still looking for that? I believe I have one. Just always browsing and unknowingly ran across it at a Southern States here in Summerfield, NC a couple of years ago. Where can I send you a pic once it starts blooming? BTW, love NurCar although it is a 4 1/2 hour drive for me…..need to get there soon for a couple of things!

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Nancy, thank you for the offer. I believe I’m OK for now with the panicle hydrangea pictures. I’m not, at the moment, updating the site much. You must be a true plant lover and aficionado to drive that far to Nurseries Caroliniana. I hope you go by to see Ted while you are there. He always has the latest and greatest plant news. Best of luck with all your garden endeavors. – Judith

  13. Sandi Powell Says:

    My husband works construction and brought a beautiful pink hydrangea home that they dug up. I would like to plant it, maybe into a pot then into the ground. Any suggestions on what type of soil to use and how to keep Her pink? And the location, I never had any of these before. Thank you.

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Sandi, How delightful to get a hydrangea from your husband – and also free! It is very important to get your hydrangea planted ASAP. Summer is not a good time to transplant, so don’t let it get any afternoon or hot sun. Let me give you a link to a page on my website that should answer most of your questions. If you still have questions, go to the FAQs and see if your questions are answered there.
      http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/planting.html – the top part of this page will tell you where and how to plant, the bottom part is very important for transplanting (which you will be doing, since the plant was dug from its original growing location.)

      You can, indeed, grow the hydrangea in a pot in dappled shade or early morning sun. Don’t over-water it but keep it on the damp side. It probably won’t bloom as well or be as easy to grow in a pot, but as a temporary measure, it should do fine. Good luck – Judith

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