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How to Care for French Hydrangeas: Gorgeous Blue and Pink Blooms

How to Care for French Hydrangeas: Gorgeous Blue and Pink Blooms

Learn how to grow stunning French hydrangeas with gorgeous blue, pink, purple and white blooms! This guide covers all the care requirements for thriving plants indoors or outdoors.

If you love flowering plants with big, vibrant blooms, then you’ll definitely want to grow French hydrangeas! These beautiful shrubs are prized by gardeners for their huge, pompom flower heads that come in shades of pink, blue, purple, and white.

French hydrangeas, also called bigleaf or mophead hydrangeas, are a specific variety known for their large flower clusters. With their romantic, old-fashioned look and ability to change bloom color based on soil acidity, they make excellent landscaping shrubs and container plants.

While hydrangeas can be picky plants, with proper care they’ll reward you with abundant flowering and lush foliage all summer long. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about growing stunning French hydrangeas in your garden or in pots.

Getting Started with Hydrangea Care

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Before we dive into the specifics of caring for French hydrangeas, it’s important to choose the right variety and give your plant a good start. Here are some tips:

Variety Selection: For big, round mophead blooms, look for Hydrangea macrophylla varieties like ‘Nikko Blue’, ‘Endless Summer’, or ‘Glowing Embers’. These bloom on old and new wood, so they’ll flower reliably each year.

Potted vs. In-Ground: French hydrangeas can be grown in containers or planted in the ground. Container plants allow you to control soil conditions, while in-ground plants may be hardier but require amending the soil.

Planting Location: Choose a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Too much direct sunlight can cause wilting and scorched blooms. Also, avoid windy areas that can damage the heavy flowers.

When to Plant: The best time is spring or fall when temps are mild, about 6 weeks before your local frost-free date. This allows the plant’s roots to get established.

Soil Preparation

Hydrangeas thrive in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil amended with compost or manure. They prefer an acidic soil pH of 5.5-6.5 for blue flowers or alkaline 6.5-7.0 for pink blooms.

Once you’ve selected your hydrangea variety and prepped the planting area, you’re ready to start caring for these beautiful flowering shrubs!

Caring for French Hydrangeas

Caring-for-French-Hydrangeas-2 How to Care for French Hydrangeas: Gorgeous Blue and Pink Blooms
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While hydrangeas have a reputation for being finicky, proper care will reward you with lush greenery and vibrant blooms all season. Here are the main needs to focus on:

Water: These plants need consistently moist, well-draining soil. Aim for about 1-2 inches of water per week from rain or irrigation. Potted plants may need daily watering in hot weather.

Light: Most hydrangeas do best with morning sun and afternoon shade. Too much direct sun can burn the big leaves and cause brown edges or wilting. Bright, filtered light is ideal.

Fertilizer: Feed plants once in early spring with a balanced fertilizer or compost when new growth appears. You can also fertilize again in late spring if desired. Avoid excess nitrogen which promotes leaf growth over blooms.

Pruning: Remove dead wood in early spring before budding. For late blooms, deadhead spent flowers by cutting back to the first set of large, healthy buds. Pruning timing impacts next year’s blooms so research your variety.

Soil Acidity


To change bloom color, amend the soil in spring. For pink flowers, add lime to raise pH. For blue flowers, add aluminum sulfate to increase acidity. It can take a full season for the color change to occur.

Winter Protection Most French hydrangeas only survive winter in zones 6-9. In colder areas, provide winter mulch and consider burlap wraps to insulate the plant over winter.

By giving hydrangeas the right conditions of partial sun, moist soil, shelter from wind, and ideal acidity for your desired bloom color, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous, long-lasting flowers all summer!

Troubleshooting Common Issues

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Even with proper care, sometimes hydrangeas may develop issues such as wilting leaves, no blooms forming, or unsightly problems. Here’s how to troubleshoot:

Wilting Leaves Most often caused by underwatering or heat/drought stress. Increase water and provide afternoon shade. Adding mulch can help retain moisture.

No Flowers Buds or blooms: may have been killed by a late spring frost. Improper pruning can also remove blooming wood. Choose a cold-hardy variety for your climate.

Brown Edges on Leaves: This is often caused by lack of water, excess sun, or soil lacking nutrients. Provide consistent moisture and fertilize if deficient.

Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease causes white powder growth. Treat with a fungicide spray and increase air circulation by pruning overcrowded stems.

Bud Blast: When buds dry up and fail to open, it’s usually due to a late frost, drought stress, or heat. Choose cold-tolerant cultivars for your area.

With a little troubleshooting, you can enjoy thriving French hydrangeas for years to come. If cared for properly, these gorgeous flowering shrubs make fabulous landscape plants and long-lasting cut flowers too!

So whether you dream of romantic blue mopheads or vibrant pink pompom blooms, give French hydrangeas a try. Follow the care tips above and you’ll be rewarded with breathtakingly beautiful blooms all summer long!

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