Summer’s finally here (even if it’s not always sunny!) One of our favourite outdoor plants is the stunning hydrangea – a classic flowering plant that comes in a range of gorgeous colours. Hydrangea flowers produce large colourful clusters of blooms that are perfect for brightening any garden or patio, big or small.

Whether it’s raining or shining this season, our blooming, British grown hydrangeas will really glow up your outdoor space and give it a completely new look. This handy guide will show you how to care for them and keep them coming back year after year.

A bit of history

Hydrangeas go back around 40-65 million years – yes, they really are that old! Researchers discovered a fossil species called the Hydrangea alaskana from a rock section at Jaw Mountain in Alaska, USA, which is about the time dinosaurs died out.

More recently, hydrangea fossils have been found in Asia, which is where their cultivation began thousands of years ago. Asian hydrangeas first reached Europe in 1736, when Peter Collison bought them from the Pennsylvania Colony. Later in 1775, Swedish naturist Carl Peter Thunberg managed to get through to Japan and brought five different plants back to Europe, where they’ve been much-loved ever since.

Hydrangeas have become even more popular in recent years thanks to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), which crowned two hydrangeas as winners of the Plant of the Year Awards in 2014 and 2018.

Hydrangea Fun Facts

Ready for some hydrangea fun facts? They’re a gorgeous plant species with a rich history that’s oh-so-interesting. The next time you talk to your green-fingered friends, impress them with these amazing facts.

Did you know..?

  1. There are more than 70 different hydrangea species in the world. Most come from the Americas, but the most popular hydrangeas in the US and Canada actually hail from Asia.
  • Hydrangeas are also less commonly known as the hortensia.
  • The name “hydrangea” comes from the Greek words “hydro”, meaning water, and “angeion”, which means pitcher. That’s because the blooms look like water pitchers.
  • Hydrangeas are commonly given as gifts in Japan. According to a Japanese legend, an emperor gifted hydrangeas to the family of his love to apologise for neglecting her. That’s why they’re now associated with heartfelt emotion, apology, and gratitude for understanding.
  • Pink hydrangeas are most frequently associated with genuine emotion because they look like the shape of a beating heart.
  • Interestingly, Victorians didn’t see hydrangeas as favourably as the Japanese. That’s because they produce beautiful flowers but very few seeds. As a result, they saw them as symbols of boastfulness, vanity, and bragging.

How to Care for Your Hydrangea

To keep your hydrangea looking gorgeous and colourful for as long as possible, it’s important to know how to care for your hydrangea. They don’t need too much attention – a little love and care are enough to see them thrive.

Here are our top potted hydrangea care tips to get you started with your hydrangea care journey:

How Often Should You Water a Hydrangea?

Hydrangeas absorb water quickly. However, they’re not all the same, so they have slightly different water requirements. As a rule of thumb, water your plant as much as it needs to stop it from wilting. During the summer, this is around once or twice a week. Water your hydrangea from the base and give it a deep drink instead of a light sprinkling.

It’s best to water your hydrangea in the morning before it gets too hot. This allows the moisture on the leaves to evaporate, preventing fungus issues. These flowering beauties like to be moist, so be careful not to let your plant dry out.

Do Hydrangeas Need Sun?

Hydrangeas perform best in partial light. They don’t like hot, arid conditions and can scorch in full sun, so be careful where you place them in your garden. We’ve already touched upon this a little bit, but hydrangeas like to be kept moist so make sure you don’t overwater your blooming beauties. Once planted, keep your plant in well-draining soil to prevent the roots from rotting or fungus from setting in.

Where’s the Best Place to Put a Hydrangea?

Because hydrangeas don’t like full sun, avoid south-facing positions. Look for somewhere in your garden that’s not too sunny and not too shaded. The perfect spot would be somewhere that gets a bit of sunlight in the morning and shade for the rest of the day.

If you’re planting your hydrangea into the ground, this plant’s pretty laidback and can grow in either acid or alkaline soil. That being said, Asian hydrangeas need acid soil to bloom. As long as your chosen soil’s rich, moist and free-draining, your plant will thrive.

Should I Cut off Dead Hydrangea Blooms?

If your hydrangea blooms appear to fade colour or turn brown, it’s time to trim them off. This process is called deadheading. You’re not harming the plant in any way – you’re simply encouraging the plant to put its energies into root and foliage development instead of producing seeds. This ensures your plant remains healthy and strong. 

How to Care for Hydrangeas in Winter?

Your aim for outdoor hydrangea care in winter should be to protect the plant as much as possible. Firstly, give it a good cut back, focusing on the deadwood the plant has produced. Cut away weak and dead branches, too.

Add around 2-3 centimetres of compost to the soil in autumn to give your plant enough nutrients to survive until spring. You can also insulate your plant by making a frame around it using wooden stakes. Create a cage by wrapping chicken wire around them and fill it with leaves to keep your hydrangea insulated.

If you have a potted hydrangea, move it inside during the winter to protect it from the elements.

What Do the Different Hydrangea Colours Represent?

Hydrangeas come in shades of blue, purple, green and pink. Each colour represents different things, such as:

  • Blue: An apology or  feelings of regret
  • Pink: Heartfelt emotion and romance
  • Purple: The desire to deeply understand someone
  • Green: Renewable and rebirth
  • White: A testimony of first love or grace and purity

Our Favourite Types of Hydrangea Plants

We couldn’t finish this blog without sharing some of the gorgeous hydrangea plants we have in The Little Botanical collection. These beautiful outdoor plants are perfect for adding style and colour to your outdoor space.

Hydrangea Garden Bundle

Our Hydrangea Garden Bundle comes with two luxurious mophead hydrangeas in either pink or blue. These shade-loving plants provide beautiful soft blooms to add colour and texture to your garden. It’s a much-loved outdoor plant bundle that’s grown in the UK.

They can be sensitive to wilting, so you must keep them moist. They also like partial light and will thrive during the summer months outdoors if you keep them between 16-24 degrees and out of direct sunlight.

Hydrangea Garden Bundle

Magical Hydrangea

The UK-grown Magical Hydrangea is the perfect plant to brighten up a spot in your home and provides a mass of softly coloured blooms that change shade as the plant matures. It’s a robust plant that’s known for its long-lasting ability. It’s also a low grower, so it’s perfect for balconies throughout the summer months.

If popping outdoors or planting in the garden, choose a warm, slightly shady spot. Ideally, you should plant it in early summer to get the most of your plant. Like most other hydrangeas, these flowering beauties like to be kept moist, so make sure they aren’t neglected and left to dry out – they won’t thank you for it. They also need a little TLC to stay looking their best. In order to keep your Magical Hydrangea looking fresh, remove fading flowers as it grows.

You can also keep your Magical Hydrangea indoors. If you do, ensure it gets plenty of light and give it plant food every 1-2 months during the growing season. Be careful of direct sunlight, though, as this can scorch the leaves and flowers.

Magical Hydrangea – Pink or Blue

Please note: this plant’s currently out of stock, but we’re planning to have some more soon.

If you have any questions about how to care for your Hydrangeas or any of our other outdoor plants, get in touch with us at [email protected] We’d also love to see some snaps of them in your garden! Feel free to share them on Instagram and don’t forget to tag us @thelittlebotanical.

Lots of love, Team TLB xx