If I could grow only one flower for cutting, it would be the billowy, blue French hydrangea.  I have loved these flowers since childhood.  So when we moved to this house–our first house–the first shrub I brought home was a hydrangea called Nikko Blue .  

Poor plant.   I must have moved it a half-dozen times.  You can’t grow just one hydrangea.  Ok, you can but it never looks right.   Here’s what I’ve learned in more than 25 years of trial and error with this wonderful plant. 

1) Hydrangeas love company.  Don’t stick one by itself in the lawn.  Other hydrangeas set this plant off.  But they don’t have to be the same variety.  I grow 9 different named plants, including lace-caps and oak leaf hydrangeas.  It’s a big, beautiful family.  Explore the options.

2) Here in the South–give hydrangeas dappled light.  My hydrangea collections are  on the north side of the garage–and under some tall trees out back.  These plants do well where impatients and ferns grow–not shade–not sun but in-between light.

3) They wilt easily and need moisture.  While hydrangeas like the protection and dappled shade of trees–they don’t like root competition.  In the battle for moisture–trees always win.  This is why my hydrangeas at the edge of the woods are in half whiskey barrels.  No Roots.  Easy to water.  A perfect world for these moisture lovers.

4) When they are happy, hydrangeas get really big.  This happened on the north side of my house.  There was plenty of moisture, no root compettion  and soon my hydrangeas were bigger than Volkswagens.  Remembering that my  litttle mother once chained a hydrangea  and pulled it out with a pickup truck, I broke a few shovels and hacked the shrubs apart with an ax.  Now all my hydrangeas grow in big pots.  It’s easier to keep them in bounds that way. 

5) The blue blooming hydrangeas  like acid .  In alkaline soil they will turn pink.  A garden product called aluminium sulfate will keep the blooms blue.  Follow package directions and make sure the aluminate sulfate is well mixed.  Don’t dump undissolved granules on your plants. 

6) Finally, hydrangeas are easy to propagate. If you see one you like, ask for hunk of the plant.  Better yet, take some cuttings, buy some Root-tone and learn how to use it.  Rooting plants is a great skill to learn.