11 Tips For Growing Hydrangeas as Hedges
Are you thinking of adding hydrangeas as a flowering hedge in your garden this season? Despite what you may have heard, hydrangeas can make great hedges if you pick the right variety. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago shares her top tips for planting hydrangeas as hedge plants this season.
Hydrangeas are versatile shrubs that can easily find a home in any garden. There is a species for every growing condition. From warm and sunny to partially shaded, you will be able to find a hydrangea that is perfect for your garden needs.
You could use hydrangeas as a privacy screen or simply as a low-growing hedge to define borders within the space of your gardens. Luckily, there are many hydrangeas species and varieties for you to choose from.
If you are in need of or want a hedge in your yard, give hydrangeas a try! Read on for steps to get your hydrangea hedge started and some tips to keep it looking beautiful for years to come.
Choose The Right Location
If you plan on planting a hydrangea hedge, you probably already know where you will be growing it. Get to know the area and take notes. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How much sun will the hedge get?
- How much room do you have for your hydrangeas to grow?
- Is there a patio or walkway nearby that you need to consider?
There is no “wrong” spot, but there is a suitable plant for each space. Taking note of these things will help you to plan accordingly and grow a successful hedge!
You will also want to select an area that has rich and fertile soil that can support the growth needs of the plant. If your soil is a bit sandy or heavy, you may want to incorporate some organic material prior to bringing your hydrangeas home.
Measure Your Hedge
Before you head out to the garden center grab your tape measure and head out to your garden. You will need to measure the length and width of the area where you plan to plant your hedge. This is an important step.
It will inform you how many plants you need to buy, but it will also help you to figure out what types of hydrangeas will work for your area. Jot your measurements down so that you do not forget!
When you are calculating how many plants you need, make sure you are taking into account the full size of the hydrangea, this will help prevent overgrowing and decline of your hedge over time.
Choose The Right Variety
Now the fun can begin! Choose any hydrangea that meets the criteria of your local climate. If you are not sure where to start, consider sun exposure for your hedge.
If you are planting in full sun, you will want to choose a panicle hydrangea, if it is shady or even partially shaded, you will want to choose any other hydrangea species.
Some of my favorite hydrangeas to be used as a hedge are Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’, Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Alice’, or any Hydrangea macrophylla varieties.
Something else to consider is the style of your garden. Is it formal or more cottage style? Will you be planting other plants around your hedge or allow your hydrangeas to be the single star of the show?
There is no wrong choice here, it all depends on what you want your hedge to look like. If you are looking for a more formal appearance, you may choose to go with bigleaf hydrangeas because they have a pretty uniform size and shape and will not require a lot of pruning.
If you are looking for something a bit more whimsical, I would opt for a panicle hydrangea or a smooth hydrangea.
Prep and Amend Your Soil
Once you have brought your plants home, it’s time to prepare your soil. If you are planting your hedge in an existing garden space, this should be an easy task. However, if you are planting in a new garden, you will have a little bit of work ahead of you.
Start by removing any grass that may be growing in your hedge space. Some people don’t mind leaving their grass, but I prefer to remove it.
Even though grass seems like a small plant, it is a strong competitor for water, which hydrangeas desperately need.
This is a great time to amend your soil as well. If you need to add compost, it will be easier to do so when there are not any plants in the way. If you are planning on adding a soil acidifier to your soil, you can go ahead and do this now as well.
Space Them Properly
The success of your hedge depends so much on the spacing of the plants. This will depend on what type of hydrangea you choose. For this example, we will go with a hydrangea that will grow to 8 feet wide.
To start your measuring begin at one end and measure four feet and mark this space with a garden stake or snow stake, whatever you have on hand. That stake will mark where the center of your first hydrangea will go.
From that stake, measure 8 feet and place another stake, and so on and so forth until you reach the end of your hedge.
Placing stakes is an easy way to make sure that you have enough plants. It also allows you to move them around until you have the perfect fit for you. It’s much easier than planting a hydrangea and then digging it up and starting again.
It is advised that you leave the full space in between for optimal plant health. However, it is up to you.
If you do not want to wait a full five years for the hedge to grow in, you can plant them a little closer. Another option is to purchase older hydrangeas. These hydrangeas will be larger and will be closer to full size.
Plant With Support
Now that you have all of your stakes in place, grab some garden twine or yarn. Make a straight line from stake to stake, moving each stake as needed. This will help to keep your hedge as straight as possible while planting.
Next, it is time to get digging. Dig holes that are twice as wide and deep as the root ball. Using your stakes as a guide for the center of your plant, you can begin digging away. Situate the hydrangea to your liking and backfill with your garden soil.
After you plant each hydrangea take a step back to make sure that your hedge is still straight. Continue this process until you have each plant in the ground.
Use Soaker Hoses
Once your hydrangeas are planted in the ground, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to install your soaker hoses or drip irrigation lines.
Of course, this is not required while you are growing a hydrangea hedge, but it will ensure that your hydrangeas are being evenly watered.
Installing your irrigation at this point will be easier because your plants will be smaller, and you will be able to navigate the hoses around the plants with ease.
Simply wind your hoses around the base of your plant, leaving plenty of space so the hoses are not touching any part of the plant.
Depending on the size of the hydrangeas you planted, you must be patient. Hydrangeas grow relatively quickly, but it can take about five years for hydrangeas to reach their full size. Continue to take good care of your hydrangeas, and you will be greatly rewarded.
If you simply cannot wait for the fullness if your hedge, you can plant some perennials or taller annuals in the gaps.
You could try coleus in your shadier spots and shorter sunflowers in your sunny spots. These will help to provide privacy until your hydrangeas are fully grown.
Pruning can be a bit overwhelming, but once you sort out a few details about your hydrangeas, it is a breeze. The trick with hydrangea pruning is getting the timing down. Some hydrangeas form their flower buds in the fall, while others don’t form them until the spring.
Something else you will want to consider is if you want to prune your new hedge at all. Some hydrangeas will not respond well to being pruned into a tight formal hedge.
You could leave them to grow wildly, or you could keep them neat and tidy, keeping the shrubs as uniform as possible.
Hydrangeas need about one inch of water per week. If you have laid your drip hoses, this can be tricky to track. One option is trying to collect the water in a cup over a week. You can then adjust your flow from there. The other is to just test the soil with your hands. The soil should be moist, but no water should run if you squeeze it.
Hydrangeas are very good at letting us know when they need water. If you notice the leaves of your hydrangea drooping down towards the ground on a sunny afternoon, chances are your plants could use a drink.
Be sure to water all of the shrubs evenly. This will help to ensure that all of your plants grow successfully, and you do not end with a dead plant which will create an unfortunate gap in your hedge.
Fertilize Only When Needed
Hydrangeas do not need a lot of fertilizer. However, an application in the spring is beneficial. Do not approach your hedge thinking that if you fertilize more frequently, your plant will grow faster. This is not true.
Over-fertilizing will lead to weak and leggy growth. Fertilizing too late in the fall can promote growth that may be easily damaged by the winter frost, negatively affecting the overall appearance of your hedge.
In the spring, apply a basic 10-10-10 fertilizer or a fertilizer specifically branded for hydrangeas. Follow the labeled instructions for the appropriate application rate.