Hydrangeas are stunning flowers and their large heads of blooms are real showstoppers in any garden. To keep these flowers in their stunning colors, learn when to fertilize your plants.
When to fertilize hydrangeas: The role of a gardener is to give your plants what they need. While you can’t control nature, you can provide extra help in the form of fertilizers. There are many types of fertilizers you can use, including homemade compost and pre-made formulas. You can choose to sprinkle granules, add spikes to the soil, or use a liquid mixture. Aim to fertilize at least twice a year, in the spring and fall, but you can add more so if your soil really needs it. Thanks to fertilizer, you will be rewarded with bushier leaves, larger blooms, and an overall healthier plant.
Benefits of Fertilizing Hydrangeas
While this benefit does depend on the type of fertilizer you are using, many commercial fertilizers include the use of weed prevention. This targets unwanted weeds but keeps your plants nice and healthy.
Improved Overall Growth
Your hydrangeas need the right amount of nutrients to grow. While your soil will contain some of them, over time, this can become depleted.
Hydrangeas are perennials so you won’t be constantly digging them up. Thus, if you leave them in the same spot without any fertilizer, they won’t be able to grow as strong.
A steady introduction of fertilizer means you can keep feeding your hydrangeas and thus every year they will grow stronger and larger.
Protection for the Soil
Soil runoff is a large problem, even in gardens. Essentially, as it rains, if there is nothing for the soil to hang onto, it can move about, emptying the area of much-needed nutrients.
Healthier plants have a strong root structure and thus more soil will stay where it is. Even with heavy rains, your hydrangea roots will stay strong and keep the soil where it is meant to be.
Resistance to Pests
Even though you shouldn’t purchase a fertilizer with insecticides, you will still be able to prevent pests from consuming your hydrangeas. The healthier a plant is, the less likely it will attract pests, and so your whole garden will benefit.
Better Disease Resistance
Just like you are more likely to become sick if you are tired or unhealthy, plants are more likely to have their own diseases. The healthy your hydrangeas are, the less prone to the disease they will be.
This does not mean they can’t still become infected, but if they are it will be slower and you will be able to catch anything a lot quicker. Fertilizer makes the whole plant stronger, from the roots to the blooms.
How do you fertilize hydrangeas?
There are three types of fertilizer that you can use for hydrangeas. Which one you decide on will depend on your time and resources.
Liquid fertilizer has a lot of benefits, mainly that it is quickly absorbed by the root structure of your hydrangeas. To use a liquid fertilizer, simply take a scoop of a pre-made fertilizer and add the correct amount of water to it.
Then, spray the liquid over the soil around your hydrangea.
Basically, you can use granule fertilizer on its own or add water to make a liquid. These granules are specially formulated to have the right ratio of nutrients.
Simply sprinkle the granule fertilizer around the soil and allow them to dissolve on its own. They will add a slow-release so you don’t have to worry about fertilizing.
Another convenient way to fertilize your hydrangeas is through the use of spikes. These are nutrient-packed and you simply put them into the soil around your hydrangea and then allow them to slowly dissolve.
How often should I fertilize my hydrangea?
Ideally, you should fertilize your hydrangeas twice a year. This should be done in the spring and the fall, which is a standard time for fertilizing the rest of your plants.
During spring and fall, you usually have compost ready and you can use this to side-dress your hydrangea plans, giving them some nice, natural matter.
When you fertilize can depend on the type you are using. Some fertilizers only release small amounts of nutrients and in this case, you may want to fertilize once a month.
Signs of over-fertilizing hydrangea
Sign 1 – Extra foliage
Too much fertilizer can result in a lot of growth, but not where you want it to be. If you see that the leaves of your hydrangeas are especially large and green, it means the plant is absorbing too much nitrogen.
While large leaves don’t seem like much of a concern, the side effect is that your blooms will be smaller.
Sign 2 – Burnt leaves
Leaves can burn, not just from too much sun but from too many chemicals. Depending on the formula of fertilizer you are using, the result may be burned leaves.
Sign 3 – Fertilizer crust on soil
When you add fertilizer, especially if it is in the form of a liquid or granules, you want to make sure it is absorbed into the soil. Pay attention to a fertilizer crust on the top of your soil.
This means the soil has too much fertilizer and does not need anymore. Simply give your plants a break and fertilize again in a few months.
When is it too late to fertilize hydrangeas?
Hydrangeas bloom in the summer and you don’t want to fertilize too much during this time. This is because the different nutrients can actually change the color of your blooms.
For example, varieties that have a pink color can turn blue with acidic soil. While you may want this color change to happen, most people plant their flowers with the assumption the colors will stay true.
Give your hydrangeas all the help you can by adding fertilizer at least twice a year. Prepare a mixture with the right balance of nutrients and the result will be fuller blooms and a healthier plant.