Hortensia | 11 Care Tips You Need to Know
By Mira Sidak | Updated on Apr 17, 2023
Hydrangeas, which most people call hortensia, are beautiful plants with flowers in many colors, from white to red, maroon, pink, blue, and lime green.
Hortensia is a member of the family Hydrangeaceae. These plants are easy to care for and are not bothered by what kind of soil they grow in. Read on to learn how to care for hortensia so that it blooms yearly.
1. Hortensia plants grow well in any soil type
Hortensias can flourish in various soil types but prefer humus-rich, fertile soils. The soil should have good drainage so the roots aren't submerged in water for too long. Poorly drained soil will kill roots in a few days.
Did you know that some hortensia types have flowers that change color based on the soil pH in which they grow? In acidic soil, the blooms turn blue; in alkaline soil, the blossoms turn pink or light purple.
If you want your hortensia to be a particular color, you should examine the soil pH in which you intend to grow it. To generate blue flowers, the soil pH must be between 5.2 and 6.0. For pink or light purple flowers, the pH of the soil should be neutral or alkaline.
2. Hortensia loves morning sunlight
Hortensias prefer the morning sun. They can tolerate the heat of the afternoon, but you should give them more water. If you don't, they will wilt and fall over.
So, consider the place when you plant hortensia. The best place for hortensia plants is on the north side of your house, where they will get bright sunlight and be protected from the afternoon heat. However, too much shade will also cause fewer flower productions.
3. Deep water hortensia to keep the soil moist
Hortensia plants need water to maintain soil moisture consistency and promote vigorous root growth. So, during the growing season, water hortensias two or three times a week. Water the plant deeply, until water comes out of the holes, but don't soak it.
If the temperature is high, you need to water your hortensia plants more often. Try inserting your finger about 4 inches into the soil to see if it is dry; if yes, give them water.
When temperatures are extremely high, hortensia leaves may curl and appear to be withering. But this doesn't mean they don't have enough water because it's how they protect themselves.
4. Best temperature and humidity to grow hortensia plants
Hortensias like mild temperatures and moderate to high humidity. 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect. Their leaves will dry and turn brown if the climate is too dry.
5. Fertilize hortensia if needed
Hortensia don't need fertilizer if grown in soil with many organic matter and nutrients. Because too much fertilizer will make the leaves grow lush but produce fewer flowers. But if you plant it in poor soil, you may need to use flowering bush fertilizer or put a layer of organic-rich compost around it.
Each variety of hortensia has distinct fertilization needs and schedules. April and June are the ideal times to apply fertilizer to Oakleaf and panicle hortensia. Smooth hortensia plants will benefit from fertilization at the end of winter.
6. Overwintering your hortensia plants
You must protect your hortensias from frost damage during winter, particularly if you live in a very cold climate. Protect the plants with natural materials such as wood, pine, leaves, or straw.
You can also use burlap or tarps to protect your lovely hortensia. This can help your hortensia survive the winter by keeping snow, strong winds, and ice away from them. Take off the burlap when new buds or swollen flowers show up.
7. Prune hortensia based on its varieties
How to prune and when to prune depend on the type of hortensia because each is slightly different. Pruning is done in the summer after the last blooming for types like mophead and lacecap that bloom on old growth. Just cut the stems above the tips of the healthy leaves.
The best time to prune for types that bloom on new growth is in late winter or early spring before the flowers start to grow. Cut back one to two feet to encourage new growth and flower production.
8. Cuttings is the easiest method to propagate hortensia
Hortensia can be grown from seeds, cuttings, or by putting a branch into the soil and letting it grow roots. But these plants don't usually make seeds, so this method will be harder to apply. Let's find out how to propagate hortensia efficiently.
Propagate hortensia from cuttings
Here is how to propagate hortensia from cuttings.
- Choose newly grown stems that have no flowers on them. The new growth will have a lighter shade of green than the old growth.
- Cut the stems below the node with pruners that are sharp and clean.
- Take off the leaves at the bottom of the cutting and keep a few on top.
- Dip the stem's base into the rooting hormone.
- Prepare a pot for planting and fill it with a moistened potting mix. Then, push the cutting into the soil to plant it. Make sure you do it carefully so the stems don't break.
- Put a plastic bag over the pot and make holes so the plant can breathe. Make sure that the cuttings don't touch the plastic bag.
- Keep the pot in the shade and water it to moisten the plant for two to four weeks.
- When roots have grown, move the cuttings where you want to plant them.
9. Harvest your hortensia and decorate your home
Hortensia has bright and beautiful flowers that make people want to pick them to make bouquets or dry them for home decorations.
If you want to make bouquets with flowers, cut the fully bloomed ones and put the stems in cold water to prevent them from wilting. Take off the bottom leaves and put the stems in a vase. Check the water daily and spray the flowers with it; if the flowers wilt, soak them in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes.
If you want to dry them, just cut off the flower heads that are completely bloomed and hang them upside down in a dry, dark, and warm room. Once completely dry, store them in a dry place away from sunlight.
10. Pests and diseases that often affect hortensia
Hortensia can be attacked by common plant pests such as aphids, black vine weevil, Japanese beetles, red spider mites, and the four-lined plant bug. You can use insecticidal soaps or chemical insecticides to deal with pest problems.
However, insecticides should not be used when the flowers bloom. It's best to remove the pests by hand.
Hortensia plants are prone to diseases like powdery mildew, anthracnose, botrytis blight, leaf spot, and wilting. Use fungicides to treat these diseases. Learn more about diseases that affect hortensia here.
11. Common hortensia growing problems
There are some problems that often come up when growing hortensia, such as:
There are a couple of reasons why hortensia only sometimes grows. It could be because you pruned the plant at the wrong time, gave it too much fertilizer, or hurt the buds in the winter or spring. Discover the solution to this issue here.
Hortensia plants will roll up their leaves to protect themselves when the weather is too hot. But when the sun goes down, the leaves will open again.
If the leaves keep curling up even when the sun goes down, it's probably because the plant isn't getting enough water. So, you should give more water.
Unbalanced maintenance can cause leaves to turn yellow. It can be caused by either excessive or insufficient water.
Best varieties to grow
Knowing the various varieties of hortensia is important so you know when and how to cut back your plants. So, here are some of the most common types of hortensia.
- Hydrangea macrophylla
People usually call this big leaf, lacecap, or mophead hortensia. This type can grow between 6 and 10 feet tall. This type should be pruned at the end of summer.
- Hydrangea quercifolia
It is called Oakleaf hydrangea, and many people grow it. It may reach up to 7 feet tall and wide, and its flowers can be white or pink.
The leaves look like those of an oak tree, which is how the plant got its name. This variety is best trimmed in the early spring.
- Hydrangea paniculata
Usually called "panicle hydrangea." The flowers are white in the summer but will turn pink over time. The length and width of this type can reach 15 to 20 feet.
This variety is considered to be big, so trimming is strongly suggested. If you have panicle hortensia, you should prune them in late winter or early spring.
With such beautiful flowers, how can you not be interested in planting hortensia in your garden? Follow the tips in this article and create the ideal environment for them to bloom yearly.