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Could Hydrangeas Grow Here?

Hello, my name is Renee and I'm new to gardening but trying hard to develop a green thumb :D I purchased several Hydrangeas and I'm trying to decide if I should plant them or put them in pots. I was hoping you could help me make the best choice for the plants.

First, for a little background, I'm located in Houston so we're hot all summer long. 90+ degrees plus high humidity. My backyard is shaded by a pecan tree in summer/fall, but winter and spring the whole yard is in full sun past 9am.

I read that morning sun and afternoon shade was preferably, but in my backyard there is very little morning sun, shade in the afternoon when the pecan tree is covered in leaves, and some sun in the late evening.

The varieties that I have are Snow Queen, Waterfall Fuji, Endless Summer, Twist and Shout, and Penny Mac. I was wandering around Houston Garden Center on their 70% off sale :>

I attached pictures of the yard. Do you think the dappled shade areas would be sufficient for the plants to bloom nicely? And would they be okay during the rest of the year when they'd get full sun when the pecan drops its leaves? The area by the where the sidewalk branches and goes to the left is an area that seems to get good dappled sun for at least an hour, but is it too close to the trees?

If nowhere is ideal should I just put them in pots so I can move them as needed to keep some shade?

Thank you very much for all your help!

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Greener Thumb
Posts: 824
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:31 am
Location: Hurst, TX USA Zone 7b/8a

Re: Could Hydrangeas Grow Here?

Hello, Renee. Yes, that location sounds good but I am unsure of the evening sun you mentioned. The sun becomes an issue only during the summer months, which for us are June thru part of September. During the winter, it is not a problem as most often, the plants have lost the leaves. The leaves that get too much sun in the summer will turn all yellow, including the leaf veins.

The pecan tree taproot system should not be much of an issue but, I would probably not try to grow the hydrangeas near the taproots because they like to absorb a lot of water thru the taproot. The only problem that you may endure is that squirrels which normally "visit" the tree for pecans may now decide to "taste test" the hydrangea flower buds when they are in the broccoli phase in the Spring. If enough buds are eaten, you may have little bloomage then.

I have planted my hydrangeas to get shade starting about 11am (approx) during the summer months. They do fine with 2 and more hours but the poor leaves definitely will sun-scorch if they get a lot of our strong summer sun in the afternoon or in the evenings. I have also grown some in almost full but bright shade. The shrubs grow in the north side of the house and get shaded almost all the time. The edge of the shade is actually close to where the plants grow so it is bright in that location.

You picked a good set of shrubs! I have Snow Queen too. It is an oakleaf hydrangea and these do not like to be wet for long periods of time so pick a spot where water does not collect. Fuji Waterfall has had inconsistent blooming for me when the winter has been mild and temperatures quickly/suddenly crash below freezing; the plant is probably breaking dormancy as temps crash down and that kills the invisible Spring blooms that normally develop in July-ish (August in northern states). So, consider watering before temperature crashes are about to happen and use winter protection if mild temps are going to be followed by a temperature crash... FW has nice blooms and I hate not having them on some years.

An alternative, if you cannot decide exactly where to place them, is to grow them in pots through a complete summer season. Meaning from now thru the end of Summer 2017. Place them in spots that you are considering and see how the leaves do. At the end of the period, evaluate the results and put the in the ground where you want. If you see that the leaves are turning all yellow-ish or white-ish, including the leaf veins, they are getting too much sun. If you see that the leaves are browning from the edges inwards then that is not too much sun but rather, they need more water.

Regardless of where they are planted, they will become sensitive to summer related issues until they are established (takes 1-3 years)... You may not notice much of that this summer though, since summer is sort of now over a bit. In the summers of 2017-19, be on the lookout for drooping or wilting episodes. If the soil is moist, they will recover on their own at night or by morning but, if you see a REALLY bad looking wilting episode, immediately water them. Just do not make a habit of always watering as the roots may develop root rot if the soil does not drain well. These episodes are triggered when the leaves transpire faster than the roots can replace the soil moisture that was lost. Very common on new hydrangeas in the first few years. Specially in the summer or in windy days.

I typically water them 1 gallon of water per plant, except in the summer (late May or June) when I increase to 1.5 gallons per plant. I use a rain gauge to determine if I can skip watering some weeks. In the winter, I water once every 1-2 weeks if it is dry.

Fertilizing likely will not be needed this year. The potted plants -I suspect- already have those round fertilizer pellets so, start fertilizing in the Spring of 2017. If planted in the ground, add 2-4" of mulch past the drip line.


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