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There are very few plants that you, the gardener, can actually choose the color you want them to be in your garden. Hydrangeas happen to be one of them. With some simple amendments to your soil, you can choose between making the blooms blue or pink. And while it doesn’t happen overnight, the magical blooms are well worth the wait!
The most important thing that influences the color of hydrangeas is soil pH—that’s the level of soil acidity. That means you may want to start with a soil test. You can either get a soil test kit from your favorite garden center or you can send your soil to your local cooperative extension office.
In general, more acidity makes hydrangeas turn blue, less acidity (or more alkaline soil) promotes pink—that is, unless we’re talking about white hydrangeas, which alas, are limited to white.
Take a look at our pH color guide to get closer to the color you prefer.
Hydrangea Color Preference
Okay, so how do you actually change soil pH?
To lower pH and turn hydrangeas blue, we recommend adding Espoma Soil Acidifier to the soil. It’s safe, long-lasting, and approved for organic gardening. Use 2 1/2 cups around the plant’s drip line every sixty days, until you reach the desired shade of blue.
Prefer pink? Then use Espoma Garden Lime. Sprinkle about 2½ to 5 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. in the Spring or the Fall.
5 Colorful Tips
- Consider container gardening for hydrangeas as an easier way to control soil pH. Some of the newer varieties of hydrangeas feature huge flowers on compact plants which are ideal for containers.
- Feeding hydrangeas well results in healthier plants with more saturated color.Espoma Holly-tone is an excellent choice for blue hydrangeas since it contains sulfur to lower pH. Espoma Plant-tone is ideal for feeding pink hydrangeas since it does not contain the additional sulfur.
- Water hydrangeas steadily, especially in the hottest part of the summer to keep them from wilting. Mulch to keep roots cool and conserve moisture.
- Hydrangea color can be affected by lime leaching out of concrete walkways or patios nearby, making blue a real challenge. Keep this in mind when considering where to plant.
- A word of caution: not all plants like acidic soil. Be careful about what’s growing near your hydrangeas. Not sure which plants like acidic soil? Click here to see a list of Acid Loving Plants.