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I've agreed to take a rather sad looking Hydrangea from my mum's garden to see if I can revive it.  I'll keep it in my garden if I can so it doesn't need to return.  However, my Mum has confessed to putting ericaceous compost in the container.  I already have 2 healthy hydrangeas growing happily in my garden so I can only assume our soil is fine for hydrangeas. 

The plant does have new growth on it but not very much compared to mine.  It's standing about 18-24" high.  But what do I do?  I guess I need to give the roots a gentle shake before planting to get rid of the ericaceous compost and add bone meal when I replant it.  But, will I prune it right down and hope that it will like it's new home and grow happily or will I leave it well alone? All and any advice gratefully received.

gardenning granny

I'd definitely add bonemeal and compost to the planting hole and then keep it well watered (well once the rain stops that is) all year.  I'd cut down to a couple of buds on each stem and then feed as the year goes on.  In my experience the only hydrangea to not do well is the one planted in full sun which does well at the start of the year but then fails to bloom as the ground gets drier (I don't water my garden much).


Only prune 1/3 of the plant each year. I would wash any ericaceous compost off and replant in fresh compost then replant later when there is no chance of frost.


If you want to achieve a good blue from a mop-head hydrangea and your garden soil is alkaline then it should be grown in a container in ericaceous compost, and then watered occasionally with hydrangea colourant (ammonium sulphate).  This is what I've done for years and have had beautiful deep blue blooms - they were wonderful additions to the church flowers for my daughter's wedding in 2012. 

 This one was just fading to mauve in autumn, but you can see the depth of the blue. 


Sorry, I meant to add that I follow the RHS pruning advice here


Thanks for the link Dove.  I was going to ask when I should chop the old flowers off my hydrangeas but that link tells me

star gaze lily

Sorry to intrude on your thread, but does anybody know about hydranga vanilla fraise?  Mine looks pretty dead at the moment (i bought it last year) is it too early for new shoots on this type? My other hydrangas have all got new shoots on them.

Whether a hydrangea produces a good blue.....or red or pink for that matter.....depends too on the variety. A red variety will never produce blue flowers whatever bluing agent, etc is added.  

I would not wash any ericaceous compost off either.....simply plant in good moist soil with added compost etc.  Prune off the dead heads to a pair of buds nearest to the old flower head.

If your soil is acid and your hydrangea is a blue variety the flowers will be good blue.  If soil is alkaline and your variety is red the flowers will be good red.  A blue growi ng on alkaline soil will produce purplish shade as will a red growing on acid soil 

Verdun wrote (see)

Whether a hydrangea produces a good blue.....or red or pink for that matter.....depends too on the variety. ....

Absolutely Verdun, I rather muddled that bit of it 

Ok, thanks for all your replies.  I've got no problem with the colours, mine are a lovely deep blue and pink respectively so ok there (but by accident rather than design ha ha).

Edd, thanks for the reminder about possible frost, which I hadn't taken into account.  I think I had assumed that this windy and rainy weather would stay forever!!!  I will indeed wash off the old compost.  Thanks.

Gardenning Granny - thanks, I think actually if I prune it down as you suggest, it will be roughly a third so that sounds like a good plan and yes, I agree with you about the sun.  I think that has been the problem with my mum's location - well apart from putting the wrong compost around it!!!

star gaze lily

Dove, Verdun do you know anything about my hydranga?  


Charley, the ericaceous compost is right for blue hydrangeas. 

No lily.  I didn't take it.  (thnk dove did) 

It's one  of the new varieties of hydangea,,isnt it lily?  I intended to buy one this year.  I will check again but I think you can cut it down to the base each pruning is a doddle.  Also it suggests ??ou need not worry about it too much yet.  I would wait for signs of a couple weeks or so....and then perhaps prune back or allow it to grow from the base.  My understanding is that it is a vigorous shrub throwing flowers on new wood

star gaze lily

Thank you Verdun, yes I think its quite a new type. Very pretty flowers tho, hope it is ok and hasn't died because of all this rain.


Most hydrangea's are happy in wettish soil.  Be optimistic lily 

Dovefromabove wrote (see)

Charley, the ericaceous compost is right for blue hydrangeas. 

Thanks.  Mum's is pink and I've already got a pink and blue and my soil seems to be fine for both so I'll leave nature to run its course without intervention I think as it seems to be working ok so far. 


If you wish to enhance red or pink flowers, apply a dressing of ground limestone or chalk at a rate of 75-100g per sq m (2-3oz sq yd) in winter. 

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