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Best Potting Soils for Hydrangeas

Best Potting Soils for Hydrangeas

Hydrangea is a kind of flowering plants that is both native to America and Asia. This flowering plant is often potted and more often given as a gift. It’s undoubtedly good to look at and will surely spruce up your garden. But not all garden owners are able to cultivate hydrangeas in their gardens even if Hydrangea is not particularly picky about soil.

Yet, if your potting soil is not best suited for Hydrangea, you will surely find it hard to grow. So, what type of potting soil is the most suited for growing hydrangeas? The answer to this question will inevitably lead us to figure out the characteristics of the soil that are necessary for hydrangeas to thrive.

Soil Conditions That Most Suitable for Growing Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas die quickly if they are planted in clayey soil that tends to retain water. So, if you want to cultivate this flowering plant, you should refrain from using clayey potting soil. On the other hand, hydrangeas thrive in soils with the following characteristics:

1) It Thrives in Well-drained Soil

As mentioned above, clay soil absorbs and retains water. Thus, it is not ideal for growing hydrangeas. On the other hand, well-drained soil is great for cultivating hydrangeas. Well-drained soil is generally characterized by its ability to let water pass through it easily. This type of soil lets moisture sip down to the root zone of this flowering plant without necessarily being trapped by the soil.

If you plant a hydrangea on clayey soil, water may accumulate in the soil, trapping roots in water, and eventually rotting the roots of Hydrangea. So, the next time you try to grow hydrangeas in containers, you should ensure that the potting soil you are going to use is draining well. If possible, it is also good to line the bottom of your pot with rock layers or even Hydroton to let the water to readily drain out without necessarily clogging the drain holes at the bottom.

Good drainage is essential to the proper growth of hydrangeas. Hence, you must use soil that is mainly designed for planters. If you use topsoil, make sure that this kind of topsoil drains easily for there are topsoils that do not drain well. You should also add some compost for additional nutrients to the soil.

2) It Thrives in Quality Organic Soil

Soil needs organic matter to sustain the growth of plants like Hydrangea. So, if you are going to grow this plant, you need to see to it that you are using quality potting soil that comes with organic matter.

You surely can’t use the ordinary garden soil to grow Hydrangea. Moreover, you should also not plant Hydrangea higher or deeper than its previous level. You should also leave some room underneath the pot’s rim to allow you to water it.

3) Consider the Level of Moisture that the Hydrangea can Tolerate

There are around 70 to 75 species of hydrangeas. Among these species, the oakleaf hydrangea is the one which is most capable of tolerating a greater amount of moisture. Thus, if you intend to cultivate this species, you should choose soil that tends toward the heavier range, yet is still capable of draining well.

Otherwise, this plant will also perish due to rotting of its roots. Another species that could thrive in moist soil is the panicle hydrangea or smooth Hydrangea. This species of Hydrangea can thrive in soil that retains moisture, although, it still requires well-draining soil. It can also thrive in droughty or dry soil better than the other hydrangea species.

4) Consider the Soil pH

The pH level of the soil will surely play a role in the color of the flower of the Hydrangea. Species like the Bigleaf Hydrangeas and H. Serrata Cultivars alter their colors based on the pH level of the soil. If the soil is acidic with a pH level below 5.5, the flowers of these species turn bluish. On the other hand, the flowers of these species tend to become pink if the pH of the soil is above 5.5.

The Morphead and the Lacecap hydrangeas also can change the colors of their flowers. This changing of colors was first discovered by gardeners in the 1900s. They learned too that by burying nails that are rusty or pouring tea near the plants, they could alter the colors of the flowers of the plant. 

Burying of rusty nails or pouring tea, of course, changes the pH level of the soil and thus alters the color of the flowers. So, if you want to change the colors of Hydrangea’s flowers, you should buy a soil test kit that would allow you to know the pH level of the soil.

The Ideal Soil Mix Combinations

The Ideal Soil Mix Combinations

Soil that is poor in nutrients is not ideal for planting Hydrangea. You need to create the ideal soil mix that would allow Hydrangea to thrive. You can do this by adding organic materials like Coco-fiber potting medium along with compost to improve the quality of the soil.

Organic materials, of course, can bind the particles of sandy soil to enable it to retain nutrients and moisture better. They could also break apart silt particles and clay, allowing water to readily penetrate to the root level and enabling the roots to spread. Below are the soil mixes that most suitable for the planting Hydrangeas.

Additional Tips on Planting & Growing Hydrangeas

There are other brief factors that you need to bear in mind when planting hydrangeas. Here are some of these factors:

  • The majority of the species of hydrangeas thrive in porous and moist soils. Hence, you should add compost to make the soil porous and somewhat moist.
  • Hydrangeas prefer the morning sun with afternoon shade. Some species like the Bigleaf Hydrangea, however, may grow in partial shade.
  • You should plant hydrangeas in the fall or spring. You should also dig the planting holes around the same depth as that of the root ball. The width should also be around two to three times as wide.
  • You should carefully set this plant inside a hole. Afterward, half fill the hole with water. Once the water drains, you should refill the hole with soil again.
  • You should water the plant thoroughly.
  • You should adequately space hydrangeas to around 3′ to 10′ apart.
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Carlos Warren

Growing up in Texas, I was fascinated by the world of science and invention, thanks in large part to my father's work at Dow Chemical Company. However, my true passion lay in the natural world, and I became an expert in organic gardening and composting at a young age. I spent hours studying the microbiological communities in our family garden, using a microscope to define the quality of the soil. My love for farming and gardening led me to explore new techniques and methods, constantly pushing the boundaries of what was possible.