The Best Way To Fertilize Hydrangeas – When & How To Fertilize In Early Spring For Big Blooms!

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Looking to boost your hydrangea blooms this year? You’re not alone! With their stunning, voluminous flowers and vibrant green leaves, hydrangeas are a top pick for gardeners aiming to add a splash of perennial beauty to their outdoor spaces. The best part? These versatile plants can thrive in a variety of climates, making them a go-to choice for many garden enthusiasts.

However, despite their popularity, hydrangeas can be a bit tricky to care for. Many gardeners have been left scratching their heads when their hydrangeas fail to bloom as expected year after year. But fear not! Often, the key to unlocking those abundant blooms lies in proper fertilization. Many frustrations can be avoided by simply fertilizing these beauties the right way.

The Best Way To Fertilize Hydrangeas – When & How To Fertilize In Early Spring For Big Blooms!

The Best Way To Fertilize Hydrangeas – When & How To Fertilize In Early Spring For Big Blooms!

The vibrant blooms of hydrangeas can add a splash of color to any landscape. To ensure consistent blooming, proper fertilization is essential.

The good news is that fertilizing your hydrangeas doesn’t have to be a complicated or time-consuming task. In fact, with just a bit of attention at two key times, you can provide your bushes with the nutrients they need to produce larger and more vibrant blooms year after year.

So, let’s dive into the best times and methods for fertilizing your hydrangeas, along with some additional care tips that can mean the difference between a bush bursting with colorful blooms and one that struggles to flower at all.

The Best Way To Fertilize Hydrangeas

2 Crucial Times To Fertilize Hydrangeas

Fertilizing can indeed enhance the size and vibrancy of your hydrangea blooms, particularly when applied at optimal times. To help your hydrangeas reach their full flowering potential, it’s crucial to fertilize them at two key moments. Importantly, each of these time frames calls for a specific type and application method of fertilizer to ensure the best possible results.

#1 Late Winter / Early Spring Fertilizing

The first opportune moment to fertilize your hydrangeas is either just before or as they start emerging from dormancy, typically in late winter or early spring. Fertilizing during this period will give your hydrangeas the boost they need to green up and gear up for the upcoming growing season. For this initial application, opt for a slow-release fertilizer that provides steady, sustained energy to support the bush’s growth.


Applying compost around the base of your hydrangeas in late winter or early spring serves as an ideal first fertilizer dose. The compost releases nutrients gradually with each rainfall or watering.

For this initial round of fertilization, you have a couple of straightforward options. The first is to apply a thick layer of fresh compost, about three to four inches deep, around the base of your hydrangea bush.

Compost is rich in a variety of nutrients that are ideal for gradually nourishing hydrangeas. Alternatively, you can use a balanced, slow-release granular fertilizer specifically designed for flowering plants, applying it at the base of the plant according to the package instructions. Both methods will provide your hydrangeas with the nutrients they need to kickstart their growth for the season ahead.. Affiliate Link: Southern Ag 10-10-10 Slow Release Fertilizer

Both compost and slow-release fertilizers work by gradually releasing their nutrients into the soil, promoting steady growth. This gradual nutrient release is ideal for helping your hydrangea prepare for its upcoming bloom cycle.

You might wonder, why not use a heavier dose of fertilizer? While it may seem like more would be better, using a fertilizer that’s too potent can actually stimulate excessive foliage growth. This can cause the plant to channel all its energy into producing leaves, leaving little to no energy for future flower blooms.

It’s a common mistake to over-fertilize plants at the start of the season, which often leads to poor blooming performance. In this context, less is more! A balanced approach to fertilization will go a long way in ensuring your hydrangeas produce abundant and vibrant blooms.

#2 Fertilizing Before Blooming – The Best Way To Fertilize Hydrangeas

The second crucial time to fertilize is just before your hydrangeas start blooming. This application is essential for ensuring your bushes reach their maximum blooming potential, producing an abundance of beautiful flowers. Timing is key here, as providing the right nutrients at

hydrangea blooms

Hydrangeas benefit from light fertilization in late winter or early spring, with an additional boost just before they bloom.

If your hydrangeas typically bloom in late spring to early summer, aim to apply the second dose of fertilizer when the buds are forming and just before the blooms start to open in early summer. On the other hand, if your hydrangeas bloom in late summer to early fall, delay the second fertilization until later in the summer.

Unlike the first round of fertilization, which focuses on steady growth, this second application is tailored to promote blooming. Therefore, you’ll want to use a fertilizer with a higher ratio of phosphorus and potassium compared to nitrogen.

While nitrogen is essential for foliage and stem development, phosphorus and potassium play crucial roles in flower production and overall bloom quality. By providing these key nutrients in the right proportions just before your hydrangea enters its blooming phase, you can significantly enhance the plant’s flowering performance and enjoy a more spectacular display of blooms.

Selecting Your Fertilizer – The Best Way To Fertilize Hydrangeas

For optimal results, opt for a fertilizer with a ratio around 10-30-20 for N-P-K. This balanced formula still provides sufficient nitrogen for healthy foliage, while the higher levels of phosphorus and potassium will promote larger, brighter blooms.

When applying this second dose of fertilizer, make sure to water it thoroughly. This will help accelerate the absorption of nutrients into the soil, ensuring your hydrangeas can make the most of the fertilizer as it prepares to bloom. Affiliate Fertilizer Link: Bloom Booster Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster 10-30-20-1.5lb

This combination of fertilizing in early spring and just before your hydrangeas bloom is a winning strategy for promoting abundant and vibrant flowers. With each successive year, this targeted fertilization approach will further enhance the plant’s overall health and vigor, leading to increasingly impressive blooms. It’s a simple yet effective method to ensure your hydrangeas continue to thrive and dazzle year after year.

Other Bloom Factors – The Best Way To Fertilize Hydrangeas

It’s worth mentioning that if your hydrangea fails to bloom despite proper fertilization, the issue might not necessarily be with the soil’s nutrient levels. Surprisingly, more often than not, a lack of blooming in hydrangeas can be attributed to incorrect pruning practices.

Hydrangeas set their flower buds on old wood, meaning they form their buds on the previous year’s growth. If you prune them at the wrong time, especially in late summer or fall, you could inadvertently remove the buds that would have produced flowers the following season.

To avoid this common mistake, be mindful of when you prune your hydrangeas. For most hydrangea varieties that bloom on old wood, the best time to prune is right after they finish flowering. This allows them ample time to develop new growth and set buds for the next blooming cycle.

When To Prune – How To Fertilize Hydrangeas For Bigger Blooms

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