Freshen Up Your Garden: How to Grow White Hydrangea Bush

white hydrangea bush

White hydrangeas are favorites of professional landscapers and ornamental gardeners, and for good reasons: they grow easily, are dependable and floriferous. Their vibrant flowers and large sizes make them wonderful additions to any floral display. Though flowering hydrangea bushes in bright shades of purple, blue and pink are more common, new hydrangea varieties are available in different colors and shapes.

They look glorious beside succulents, trees and other forms of greenery.

The white-colored hydrangea is the most popular color apart from the traditional hydrangea shades. It creates a fresh new look in any garden.

White Hydrangea Types

How do you choose the best white hydrangea for your garden? There are many varieties of this flower, with each type requiring a specific type of care and/or location to bloom.

Four of the most common types of hydrangeas include:

  1. Bigleaf (H. macrophylla). This white hydrangea variety is a classic selection of florists. Everyone loves it. However, not everyone can grow it. Bigleaf hydrangeas thrive in locations with partial shade and well-drained soils. Most are hardy up to Zone 5 (or Zone 4 if they are protected well during the winter season).
  2. Smooth (H. aborescens). Anabelle is the most popular variety of this type. This white hydrangea variety blooms best when it grows under the sun. Southern gardeners, however, should plant their hydrangeas under a partial shade.
  3. Oakleaf (H. quercifolia). As their name implies, these plants have oak-shaped leaves, which can turn into attention-grabbing colors of orange, rust or burgundy in autumn. As the weather cools down, the white flower heads eventually turn tan or pink. Gardeners who grow this variety of white hydrangeas cultivate them in hardy to Zone 5 conditions, in dry soils.
  4. Panicle (H. paniculate). White panicle hydrangeas, which can be both tough and easy to grow, produce cone-shaped flowers. These small hydrangeas prefer growing under the sun but can survive in all climates, except the coldest ones. Panicles bloom the latest compared to other white hydrangea varieties, usually during the midsummer season.

Planting White Hydrangeas

drying white hydrangea flowers

As with the other plants in your garden, learning the basics of planting can save you time and money. By getting the soil just right, planting correctly and choosing the right location, you’ll increase your chances of enjoying healthy and beautiful white hydrangea blooms for years to come.

The Best Time to Plant Hydrangeas

Fall is always the best season to plant hydrangeas, followed by early spring. This gives your shrub more time to establish a strong root system before blooming flowers. As for the best time of the day to plant, do it in the late afternoon or early morning. The cooler parts of the day protect your blooms from heat stress.

The Best Soil for White Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas thrive in soils that contain organic material. Also, good drainage is essential. White hydrangeas flourish in moist soils, but waterlogging is never an option. Poor draining soils result in soggy white hydrangeas that have rotting roots. In a few weeks, your flowers will quickly die. If your soil is heavy, mix plenty of compost to improve soil quality.

The Best Planting Location for Hydrangeas

Many gardeners plant their white hydrangeas in beds beside their homes. As mentioned above, hydrangeas are fans of the sun, but they dislike the afternoon heat.

To provide them with the right amount of sunlight, plant your hydrangea bush in a sheltered location with shady afternoons and sunny mornings. Avoid planting directly under trees. It’s tempting to plant them under trees to get some shade; however, there will be competition for nutrients and water.

Once you’ve nailed down the best options for your white hydrangea plants, it’s time to plant them.

To plant hydrangea bushes, dig the planting holes two feet wider than the root ball. The hole’s depth must be consistent with the size of the root ball to ensure the plant sits a bit higher or level with the surrounding soil. Creating a slight mound increases the water drainage away from the plant’s base.

In terms of propagation, the process is a straightforward one. All you must do is dig a small trench near your flower and bend the branch to the trench so the latter will touch the soil. Scratch the bark where the branch comes into contact with the trench. Fill the trench and place a stone, brick or paver on top. Wait for the branch to develop its own root system, which you can plant in another location.

How to Care for Your White Hydrangea Plants

Although the white hydrangea’s flowers and leaves seem delicate, they don’t require tedious care.

Here are the basic tips to care for your white hydrangea blossoms:

  1. Regularly add mulch under your plants to keep the soil cool and moist. Organic mulch breaks down over time, nourishing and improving the soil texture.
  2. Water your plants an inch a week throughout the growing season. Deeply water the soil three times a week to encourage the roots to grow more. Smooth and bigleaf hydrangeas need more water, but all white hydrangea varieties benefit from consistent watering.
  3. Protect your flowers against pests. Choose cultivars with resistant traits.; otherwise, you’ll deal with powdery mildew and leaf spots. Pests are usually uncommon, but they can appear when plants are stressed. Your best defense is to properly care for your hydrangeas.

When the White Hydrangea Changes Color: What Should You Do?

white hydrangeas

There are cases when gardeners discover that the white blooms they planted are changing back to the traditional blue or pink hydrangea color. This, however, is part of the hydrangea’s normal aging and growing process. But if your hydrangeas are changing shades, don’t despair.

To keep your hydrangeas white, keep them as healthy as possible. This extends the time that your flowers stay fresh before they resume their normal aging process. Also, some environmental elements can affect the color of your blooms.

To keep them white longer, keep the following in mind:

Check Sunlight Exposure

White hydrangea bushes can tolerate shade and sun, but there is such a thing as “too much sun,” especially if your location receives an intense amount of sunlight. If your blooms receive too much attention from the sun, they will age and change colors quickly.

Also, too much sun can burn the leaf tips and blooms, causing them to brown and curl up or die. If this happens, deadhead the blooms that have been damaged by the sun to encourage growth.

Water Your Bushes

As with most plants, it’s important to water your hydrangeas regularly. However, don’t overwater it. During the summer season, your white hydrangea bush might need more water than usual, especially if it receives too much sun.

When watering your white hydrangea bush, avoid soaking the ground to keep standing water from affecting the soil. Excessive moisture can damage the hydrangea’s roots or cause the flower to wilt. Add mulch to the plant’s base to help retain some moisture.

Fertilize Your White Hydrangea

For blue and pink hydrangeas, most gardeners discuss soil additives and pH to modify the soil. White hydrangeas, however, don’t react the same way that blues and pinks do. You still need to make sure that your bush is receiving the nutrients it needs. The rule of thumb is the longer you keep your hydrangea healthy, the longer it will stay white.

Use a well-balanced fertilizer to maintain your soil’s conditions. Also, follow the instructions on the package to avoid overfertilizing your soil; otherwise, you can quickly harm it.

Why Do Your White Hydrangeas Look Dirty?

White hydrangeas change to different shades of white throughout their aging and growing cycle. As a result, your hydrangea’s color changes from white to green, yellow or pink. Most of the time, they will look a bit “dirty.” If this is the case, keep them watered to maintain their pristine white color.

White hydrangeas are a lovely addition to any backyard or privet hedge. To enjoy the presence of these blossoms, you need to practice constant garden care and have plenty of patience, creativity and love for these plants.


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