Do you want a beautiful bush of colorful hydrangeas on your balcony or in your garden? Here’s everything you need to know to take care of it.

If you are looking for a beautiful plant that grows luxuriantly and brings a touch of color to your garden, the hydrangea will not disappoint you : its bushes, in spring, bloom in a blaze of wonderful shades that perfume the atmosphere. It is the ideal choice if you have enough space, but some varieties are also suitable for planting in pots to brighten up your balcony. Furthermore, hydrangeas do not require much attention and are easily grown , adapting well to the Mediterranean climate. Let’s see how to grow them, both in the garden and in pots.

Hydrangea, the characteristics of the plant

The hydrangea (scientifically called Hydrangea ) is a floral plant belonging to the Hydrangeaceae family: unbeatable when it comes to  ornamental species , it is characterized by large and very showy flowers, which can be of many different colours. Originally from Asia and South America, it spread to England in the 18th century and then slowly throughout the rest of Europe, thanks to its adaptability even to the coldest temperatures.

There are several varieties of this plant: one of the most common is Hydrangea macrophylla , which gives life to beautiful bushes full of colorful flowers. Its main characteristic is the ability to produce different flowers based on the type of soil in which it is planted. If acidic, they will in fact tend to be blue; on the contrary, on a basic or alkaline soil, the flowers that emerge will have a very pretty pink or violet color.

Other varieties (some of them climbing) are smaller and better suited to growing in pots . This is the case of the Hydrangea panicula , the only species that gives white flowers: its small tree can reach up to 5 meters in height, but does not take up much space in width. All hydrangeas, however, are easy to grow and do not require particular attention. Their ideal habitat is cool and mild, so they should be placed out of direct sunlight , especially in summer or in hotter areas. It also survives the winter well, even resisting harsh temperatures.

How to plant hydrangeas

If you have decided to dedicate yourself to growing hydrangeas , there are some steps to follow to ensure you have a lush plant that produces beautiful flowers. First of all, carefully choose the period in which to plant: if you start from seed, the best time is spring, around the month of April . On the contrary, if you have purchased a seedling that has already grown and you only need to plant it, do it during the month of May or wait for autumn, between October and November.

When preparing the soil, remember that hydrangeas prefer a moist and humus-rich base , to be combined with natural fertilizers such as acidic peat or manure. As we have seen, exposure is important: this plant grows best if positioned in a well-ventilated place and protected from direct sunlight, with the exception of winter. During the cold season, you can also move the pot inside your home, but leaving it next to a window where it can receive sunlight. If the plant is in the garden, remember to mulch the soil to protect it from the coldest temperatures.

In pot

Let’s now see how to plant a hydrangea in a pot. First choose a container that is large enough, based on the variety you have decided to sow. It is important that the pot has holes in the bottom , to allow the soil to drain water more efficiently. Fill it with soil (preferably suitable for hydrangeas) and use fertilizer to provide it with all the nutrients your seedling will need.

At this point, make a small hole in the soil and insert the seeds : you can also use one of the techniques to  accelerate the germination process ,  and only at a later time transfer the germinated seed into the soil. If, however, you have purchased a seedling that has already grown, check that its roots are moist – you can immerse them in warm water for half an hour before planting. Then dig a fairly deep hole and place the plant in it, then compacting the soil with your hands. Whichever method you choose to plant hydrangeas, remember to water immediately afterwards.

In the garden

To plant a hydrangea in the garden, the same indications that we have already seen apply. When preparing the soil, pay particular attention to fertilization : since in this case you will not have specific soil for hydrangeas, you will have to add a fertilizer that can guarantee the plant all the nourishment it needs to grow. Dig the soil deeply to make it softer, then dig a small hole and insert the seeds or plant that you have previously purchased. Compact the earth with your hands and water immediately : hydrangea needs water to grow, and particularly fears drought.

How to grow hydrangeas

Once you have planted your hydrangeas, the most is done: there are not many precautions that you will need to have from now on to make the seedlings grow at their best. Let’s start with watering , the most delicate part of any crop. Since hydrangea fears arid soils, you must make sure that the one in which it lives is always humid enough, however avoiding dangerous water stagnations which could cause the roots to rot. The best way to understand if the plant needs water is to touch the soil with your fingers and feel if it is still wet or if it is drying out.

It is better to water abundantly during the budding period , while watering can be reduced when the plant has already flowered. Wet the soil early in the morning or in the evening after sunset, using water at room temperature. You can recycle rainwater, thus also avoiding problems resulting from a possible excessive presence of limestone. It is then necessary to prune the hydrangea annually , starting from the third year of life: in autumn, after the flowering period, you will have to eliminate the dry branches and withered flowers, to ensure that they do not remove nourishment, water and light from the vital parts of the plant.

Finally, remember to fertilize the plant periodically – especially in spring, when flowering begins – and check that it is not infested by parasites . In the latter case, you can try some natural remedies to defeat ants , scale insects, aphids and red spiders, the most common “enemies” of hydrangeas.