Planting Bigleaf hydrangeas is a great way to add aesthetic appeal and biodiversity to your garden —gardeners know this.
Their showy blooms send invites to prestige pollinators like bumble bees, monarch butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds.
But knowing how to care for this plant is a HUGE part of the equation.
And it has become a significant concern since only a few hydrangeas pass the annual threshold due to poor maintenance.
But with the bigleaf Hydrangeas care routine on this page, you can enjoy the benefits of this flower year after year.
We offer expert advice and practical tips on adequately watering, fertilizing, and pruning your hydrangeas.
We also touch on the secret behind choosing the ideal soil, pH, and conditions for that plant.
Let me show you below.
Bigleaf Hydrangeas Care
1. Planting Sunshine Ligustrum
Do you want to make your Bigleaf Hydrangeas happy?
Three things you MUST do:
- Give it the ideal planting condition
- Plant in moist, humusy, well-drained soil
- Proper spacing
And you will reward you with the most stunning blooms.
Any Bigleaf Hydrangeas with produce more flowers and the healthiest of foliage under the full sun (to part shade) with moist, humusy, well-drained soil.
Should it be USDA zone 7, a little afternoon shade should keep it from scorching.
Although the plant spacing might vary depending on the type grown, at least five feet (1.5m) apart would be conducive for any Hydrangeas.
Some gardeners go as far as 10 feet, depending on the size at maturity.
2. Watering Requirements
“Water is life…. And it is true for plants.”
Bigleaf hydrangea is a water-demanding flower. Death might be around the corner if it doesn’t drink enough water.
It is why gardeners prefer it in moderate water-use landscape zones.
Do not use overhead sprinklers. Instead, install a soaker hose or drip system around the hydrangeas.
And due to wet leaves, Bigleaf Hydrangeas are prone to diseases like lead spots and powdery mildew.
Soaker hoses are so effective because the leaves remain dry while the plant absorbs the water they deliver straight to the ground.
Two to three times watering a week will do during the plant’s flowering. Do not go overboard watering every day—the frequency and amount of watering matter.
But if you feel your hydrangeas are suffering from overwatering, here are some telltale signs to back up that claim:
- Root Rot
- Browning and Wilting of Leaves
- Yellowing of Leaves
- Dropping of Leaves
- Stunted Growth
- Presence of Molds
These are clear signs the plant is on the verge of death.
And how do you save an overwatered Hydrangea?
The first thing is to investigate the root cause was overwatering, then:
- Report the Plant
- Remove Damaged Leaves
- Treat the Soil with Fungicide
- Water in the Morning
- Water When the Soil Is Dry
- Water Around the Pot
3. Fertilizing Sunshine Ligustrum
YES, sunshine also needs fertilizer to be in robust good health.
And with the numerous available options, it can be challenging to know the right pick.
But so far, organic, slow-releasing fertilizers for most gardeners have worked —like a 10-5-5 or 15-10-10 formula.
These fertilizers work miraculously well with hydrangeas giving them the nutrients to max up in size and quantity of their blooms.
Another option is an organic slow-release, all-purpose, balanced fertilizer.
How often you fertilize depends on whether they are planted in pots or the ground.
For ground growers, here is your checklist and fertilize three times for optimal growth, quality, and bloom production:
- Fertilize in early spring when the bigleaf hydrangeas are just leafing out
- Fertilize again in early May to boost their flower production against the summer
- In late June/early July, fertilize a little to help it finish the summer safe and sound
NOTE: If three times fertilization is a bit much, you can reduce it to twice, but only in spring and early summer.
And NEVER fertilize too close to fall. Fertilizing them late in the growing season might provoke new growth, and this new fall growth is usually tender.
Understand that the new buds might not be strong enough to withstand the sudden frost strikes. Therefore, it is a waste of resources.
For overwintering your containerized hydrangeas, fertilize them in early spring and May. You can skip the summer fertilization.
Meanwhile, skip the first year of fertilization for newly planted hydrangeas in a container with potting soil that already has slow-release fertilizer.
However, you can add some fertilizer if the container has none. But do so during the planting season, late spring, and early summer.
The only stone left unturned is how to apply the fertilizer.
Well, this is what you should know:
- Do not apply it around the drip line of the hydrangeas
- Avoid contact with the plant, as direct exposure (as with some fertilizers) can burn the leaves
I constantly water before and after fertilizing so the solution goes into the oil. This is especially true whenever I’m using a granular fertilizer.
4. Pruning And Shaping
Pruning and shaping are an integral part of the Bigleaf Hydrangeas care routine.
It is like going to a spa to rejuvenate yourself.
Pruning encourages healthy plant growth, but when and how to prune? That is the BIG question.
Aside from the endless summer series, most bigleaf hydrangeas bloom on matured branches. That means potential flowering in late summer to early fall the following year.
And since the plant forms the buds there, you CAN NOT afford to lose that branch to pruning —except if you want to miss out on the beautiful blooms.
Hence, light trimming in early spring is all you need –pruning old flower heads close no the leaf nodes.
And in the extreme cold, where the tips are more vulnerable, you can take off the die back.
It is a good call, even though you must have lost the flower bud at the tips. Because, in most cases, pruning stimulates the dormant side buds. So you are likely to get a welcome back, buds.
The worst-case scenario is that the entire plant could die from the cold hands of severe winter.
If this were to happen, take it down in early spring. Chances are the roots will still be alive and send up new shoots as the weather warms.
5. Pest And Disease Management
Pest and disease are the most likely culprit for mass bigleaf Hydrangeas slaughter.
Hydrangeas are likely resistant to pests. But considering the satisfaction they derive from feasting on this flower is no retreat, no surrender.
It is beyond words.
Moreover, NO garden is entirely free of pests.
And since they love hydrangeas as much as you do, you are in a tug of war between dragging the flower to doom and nursing them back to health.
But here are some of the pests and diseases attacks you are likely to encounter if you own a couple of bigleaf hydrangeas in your yard:
- Black Vine Weevil
- Four-lined plant bug
- Japanese Beetle
- Rose Chafer
- Spider Mite
Hydrangeas are often victims of these garden pests.
In the summertime, when you think things are going great with your hydrangeas covered in large blossoms, Aphids could stop by and say…Hi —hopping from one flower to the other.
While routinely checking for pests would prevent the worst, you can treat pest infestation effectively.
The catch is to fight terror with terror.
Leverage what pests hate the most: insecticidal soaps, spraying soapy water, or using pesticides.
If it is a pesticide you want, DO NOT use it whenever the plants bloom —have a sense of human sympathy for your pollinators’ health.
However, one of the safest ways to remove scale pests is by hand, but it is time and energy-consuming.
You also need to ensure the soil isn’t too moist, which attracts infection. Pruning shears should be clean and sterilized.
And if you were to follow these rules strictly, you can wave goodbye to lackluster blooms, wilting leaves, and other scourges of this plant’s beauty.
Instead, you will watch in awe as your bigleaf hydrangeas bask in good health and bloom graciously.
And lastly, don’t give up!
Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t there yet with your Bigleaf hydrangeas.
Try planting them in a different spot near a wall, like the east side of your property.
After planting them next to a wall, I have seen many homeowners succeed with hydrangeas.
This siting protects the plant from direct contact with harsh weather conditions –especially during winter.
And since their roots are shallow, there is a risk of drying out and heat stress. A lovely 2-3″ layer of shredded bark mulch will help conserve moisture and keeps the roots cool.
Some opt for a mulch of pine straw or compost, but not rock mulches, as they retain a lot of heat.