the secret to my hydrangeas

IMG_3759 It’s no secret…I {big pink puffy heart} hydrangeas…I counted…I have 10 {and it should be 11 if Mr. Employee-of-the-Month hadn’t run over one last year with a Bobcat…grrr} but I digress.  I drive my sweet husband crazy…every time we go to Lowe’s or Home Depot, I must walk through the Garden Center and I always drool over the hydrangeas, and truth be told, I would take one home with me every time if I had it my way.  And while I never used to cut any blooms to bring inside {because I didn’t want to waste any…what was that about??}, last year’s prolific bounty had me cutting every week or two, which was so delightful!

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We built our house back in 2005, and if I remember correctly, I snapped up several hydrangeas ASAP & plopped them in the ground…in full sun…and hardly ever watered them…they did not grow…they did not flourish…I was super bummed.  I remember reading a story about a fabulous gardener in Southern Living a few years back – she claimed that you didn’t really know a plant until you’d transplanted it and killed it several times.  She gives me great confidence & hope!  So I moved my hydrangeas closer to the house, but water was still a problem.  It wasn’t convenient to their location, probably happened haphazardly, and still…hardly any blooms.  Then last year, the pieces started to fall in place.

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Five small, 1 gallon hydrangeas from Lowes turned into this gorgeous mass of blooms, pretty much in 2 years.  Our secret was much by accident.  Hydrangeas typically call for part shade – hello – we don’t have much shade where we live.  We get sun, sun & more sun.  After planting my hydrangeas on the side of our house where they get full afternoon {read hot, blazing} sun, it suddenly occurred to me; more water was the answer.  After all…they are hydrangeas.

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We were walking through Home Depot one day and spotted this self-timer by Orbit.  It was around $50 & we figured an investment well worth making {‘cause while I mean to water every night…it gets hot, and the kids stay up too late, and then I’m tired}….boy were we right!  We have a hose bib literally right behind my hydrangea bed, so we hooked this baby up & programmed it to turn on for 15 minutes around 6 every morning & again at 6 every night….and then we connected a soaker hose to it that we wound around the base of all the hydrangeas {we also have a weed preventer fabric around them, though with as thick as they are, I’m not sure it was super necessary}.  On hot summer days, in the afternoons, the plants will sometimes wilt a little, but as soon as the water comes on that evening, they perk right back up and are happy as can be.  They have grown gangbusters, and this year is only the second year of their cushy treatment!

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When you’re at the garden center – remember that all hydrangeas are not alike.  You will see a price range of $5-$15 for 1 gallon plants…3 gallon containers can go to $25+ YIKES!  I always buy 1 gallon hydrangeas – I would rather have 2 smaller plants than 1 bigger plant, because I know that in no time at all my smaller plants will hit 3 gallon size…and I’d rather have more!

I also splurge for the new varieties of rebloomers {Endless Summer and Forever & Ever to name a few}.  Old school hydrangeas only bloomed on “old growth” or last year’s growth – if last year’s stems all get broken over the winter or you have a late freeze {after buds have set} your hydrangea won’t bloom at all.  Rebloomers bloom on both old & new growth – hallelujah! one of the best plant revolutions ever!  With an old school hydrangea, once all the original buds became flowers, that was it.  With rebloomers…cutting blooms to take inside causes the plant to grow more, and put on even more blooms…so even though it costs a little more upfront, to me, it’s worth it every time!

How about you…are you ready to give hydrangeas a try?