The Q&A Archives: Need help with my hydrangeas.

Question: I bought some hydrangeas (Annabelles) last summer and they are still alive but only a few of their branches have leaves. I do notice that they are getting some small pink blooms, but they are in no way thriving. Can you let me know what I need to do to help this plant thrive? I think I'm in zone 10 (southern California inland).

Answer: Hydrangeas grow best in morning sun and filtered afternoon shade. They prefer rich, well draining soils and ample water during the growing season. Since you only recently planted your annabelles, they may just be trying to adjust to their new growing spots so slow growth should be expected for a while yet. I would prune the shrubs back after they have finished flowering to promote new growth. Or, you can prune now, leaving the stems that are producing flowers alone but cutting the rest back. New stems will emerge from below the pruning cuts. After the flowers are spent, cut the flowering stems back, too. You can feed your hydrangeas with a liquid fertilizers (Miracid, for instance) and then mulch around the base of the plants with compost or other organic matter. I think pruning and patience and a little fertilizer with help your hydrangeas establish and grow well. Enjoy!

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