Last Updated on January 3, 2022 by Grow with Bovees
Hydrangeas are reliable summer flowering plants that make beautiful additions to any garden, starting from formerly manicured lawns to carefree cottage gardens.
They offer season-long performance with abundant eye-catching flowers, as long as they’re grown in well-drained soil, moisture, and of course with the right fertilizer.
So, what is the best fertilizer for hydrangeas?
Even though hydrangeas don’t need extra fertilizer, they do need the right type to bloom. Hydrangeas also require the right amount of fertilizer, because applying too much will produce more leaves than flower heads.
Buying the best hydrangea fertilizer can be a bit overwhelming, due to the many options available.
But we’ve gone the extra mile, and present you with three plant food options, and a detailed guide on how and when to fertilize hydrangeas for mesmerizing, and long-lasting hydrangea flowers.
3 Best Hydrangea Fertilizer Options
1. Scotts Company Miracle-Gro
Slotting in at the #1 position on this list of the best hydrangea fertilizers is none other than a proven formula from Scotts—a leading name in the lawn care space. It’s available in several sizes, making it easier to get the right amount for your plants.
Further, Miracle-Gro fertilizer helps promote vibrant color and amazing blooms for several types of plants including hydrangeas, gardenias, orchids and much more.
Miracle-Gro is a water-soluble fertilizer that should be mixed in the ratio of one and a half tablespoon fertilizer with one and a half gallon of water. The best time to apply Miracle-Gro is every two weeks for indoor potted hydrangeas, and every seven to fourteen days for outdoor hydrangeas.
Miracle-Gro boasts double feeding action, good for both root development and leaves of all hydrangea varieties as soon as it’s applied. You don’t need a sprayer to apply Miracle-Gro, but can directly pour it around your hydrangeas, and other plants.
- Works almost instantly
- Pellet form dissolves easily
- Feeds roots and leaves
- Can be used for indoor and outdoor plants
- Quality of packaging could be improved
2. Espoma HT18 Holly Tone
Espoma HT18 Holly Tone is geared towards acid loving plants such as hydrangeas, blueberries, strawberries, and is hailed by professionals as a great and effective fertilizer to make your plants produce a fantastic flower head.
Approved for organic gardening, Espoma Holly Tone is infused with bio-tone beneficial microbes, which break down the nutrients in the fertilizer to make them easily available for the hydrangeas to take up.
Other key ingredients are ammoniacal nitrogen, phosphate, soluble potash, magnesium and calcium, the N P K ratio is 4-3-4. It is best applied in the spring at the first hint of bloom color.
It can be applied at two cups per cubic foot of soil for new potted hydrangeas, and one tablespoon of fertilizer for each three inches of pot diameter for established plants. The same amount can be used when replanting hydrangeas into larger pots.
The recommended amount can be sprinkled around the drip line, and then should be watered generously.
- Long, lasting, slow-release fertilizer
- Rich in bio-tone beneficial microbes
- Does not cause fertilizer burn
- Easy and quick absorption
- Can be used for other acid loving plants
- Some packages come with hard to remove label over instructions
3. Bonide Bailey’s Color Me Blue Hydrangea Pellets
Further, it helps bring the pH level of your soil to the right range for hydrangeas and other acid loving plants, which is between 5.0 – 5.8. However, it’s highly recommended that you use a digital pH soil tester to keep tabs on your soil’s pH level at all times.
Bonide Bailey’s Color Me Blue hydrangea pellets contains natural ingredients including 90 percent elemental sulfur, which also helps lower the soil pH level. It can be applied directly without any mixing directly into the soil. All that’s left to do is water well after application.
- Lowers soil pH level
- No mixing needed
- No fertilizer burn
- Natural ingredients
- May take a bit longer to work compared to liquid hydrangea fertilizers
Hydrangea Fertilizer Buying Guide
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Hydrangeas?
Achieving healthy blooming hydrangeas is not a difficult task, as long as you provide them with great care, and the right nutrients, they will produce a great flower head.
Soil type – most varieties of hydrangeas aren’t really picky about soil, and just like most plants, grow best in well-drained soils. If your soil is clay-like or heavy, you should add some organic fertilizer to improve its condition.
You should also check your soil’s acidity to buy the most suitable hydrangea fertilizer for your respective soil type. Adding to this, check the NPK ratio on the fertilizer label, and avoid fertilizers that are high in nitrogen content.
Type of hydrangea — hydrangeas are available in an array of varieties, and each one has its own nutrient needs. For example, oak leaf and panicle hydrangeas require two fertilizer applications in April and June, whereas smooth hydrangeas need only one during the winter.
Ease of use — there are several ways to apply these fertilizers such as mixing with water or applying directly to the soil.
While all types of fertilizer deliver the same results, liquid fertilizers are absorbed quickly by the plant’s roots. You should also choose a hydrangea fertilizer that’s easy to work with, and one that will save you time and effort. If you want your hydrangeas to give blue flowers, then please see our advice here regarding hydrangea bloom color.
What is the Best Time to Fertilize Hydrangeas?
The best time to fertilize hydrangeas is in the months of March, May and July. It’s best to apply hydrangea food when the hydrangea plants are just starting foliage growth, which gives them an early season boost.
If you’re using a chemical fertilizer, you can apply a slow-release, well-balanced fertilizer once a year. And if you’re using a fast-release hydrangea fertilizer, then two applications per year in the summer should suffice.
Do not fertilize hydrangeas after August, because fall is the time hydrangeas begin preparing for dormancy. Fertilizing during the fall will stimulate new growth, but it will make the plants too tender to withstand the cold winter conditions.
How Often to Water Hydrangeas?
Hydrangeas love moist soil, so will need regular water. You should water your hydrangeas more often in the summer to keep the plants from drying out, insufficient water is one of the main reasons why hydrangeas will not bloom. With regard to timing, the best time to water hydrangeas is in the early morning or in the evening, because this resting period allows the plants to absorb water better and quicker.
As with most shrubs and flowers, hydrangeas will appreciate the application of a decent mulch material that will help to reduce loss of moisture, especially during hot weather.
If you intend to cut hydrangeas for flower arrangements, the best time to do this is in the morning.
When Do Hydrangeas Bloom?
Hydrangeas tend to bloom in the summer, and last almost throughout the fall. But this also depends on the variety of hydrangea—take hydrangea macrophylla as an example, which flowers from late May to midsummer in the south, and hydrangea paniculata that flowers from late spring to early summer.
Pruning plays an important role in determining the quality of your hydrangea blooms, because pruning certain types of hydrangeas can delay the flowering season. This is one of the reasons why you should do some research, and select the variety of hydrangea that’s right for your neck of the woods.
Hydrangeas are beloved shrubs that offer lush foliage, and big, colorful blooms. Even though they grow in most places you plant them, remember that they are acid loving plants, and they really thrive when you have the correct soil acidity. Please try to use organic fertilizers whenever possible. They do need to be properly cared for, and will appreciate the addition of poultry manure from time to time.
The three hydrangea fertilizer products mentioned on this list contain the right ingredients to make your plants bloom well season long.