Endless Summer

July 7, 2009 3 Comments

Several years ago we bought an Endless Summer Hydrangea.  We needed something for the east side of our house along the foundation.  We were told that if you have alkaline soil the blooms will be pink

Pink bloom

Pink bloom

and if you have acidic soil the blooms will be blue.

Blue bloom

Blue bloom

The above pictures were from our hydrangea.  From this year.  And, I took the pictures on the same day, June 26th.

These were taken just last week:

Blue bloom from July 2nd

Blue bloom from July 2nd

Pink blooms from July 2nd

Pink blooms from July 2nd

Somehow, we have ended up with both pink and blue blooms on the same plant this year. 

The hydrangea on June 26

The hydrangea on June 26

This was taken on July 2nd

This was taken on July 2nd

According to several sites that I have looked at, you can change the color of the hydrangea yourself by adjusting the pH of the soil.  First, have your soil tested to see what the pH of your soil is.  Go to the local extension service and they will give you a small bag and instructions on how to test your soil.  Essentially, you get a bucket, take some samples of soil from several areas of the space you want tested, mix it together and then put a certain amount in the bag and send it to Iowa State University at the address provided on or with the bag.  You will get a letter back with the results and then you can adjust accordingly.  You should recheck the pH of your soil every 2 to 5 years.

According to this site, you can raise the pH of the soil by adding dolomitic lime several times a year and turn the blooms pink.

Add dolomitic lim to turn the flowers pink

Add dolomitic lime to turn the flowers pink

You want the pH to be 6.0 to 6.2, but if it goes above 6.4 the plant may suffer from an iron deficiency. If you add a fertilizer with high levels of phosphorous, that helps to prevent aluminum from being taken up into the plants system and turning the blooms blue.

If you want those blue blooms,

Add aluminum sulphate to get blue flowers

Add aluminum sulphate to get blue flowers

you want a pH of 5.2 to 5.5.  Check to see what the pH of your water is, too.  If the water is too hard, it will be difficult to turn the flowers blue.  The article also mentions that concrete foundations and walkways can leach lime raising the pH in that area, but our blue blooms are closer to the foundation than the pink ones, so that may not always apply.  In our area, the Iowa State Extension service recommends using aluminum sulphate to lower the pH of the soil.

Another thing you want to be aware of, hydrangeas are very, very thirsty.  We found this out the first year we had it.  We would water it one day and the next, or even that afternoon, it would be wilted.  We got into the habit of filling a five gallon bucket of water and dumping it on the plant each day, especially when it was hot.  And the plant isn’t even in the hot afternoon sun!  We found the solution in a handy little device that a friend of ours told us about.  The self-retracting hose reel. 

Our handy-dandy hydrangea watering system

Our handy-dandy hydrangea watering system

I love this thing.  Not only does it save on my back while trying to reel in 100 feet of hose, it ends up watering the hydrangea.  Win-win.

This takes the water out of the line as the hose is reeled in and puts it on our hydrangea

This takes the water out of the line as the hose is reeled in and puts it on our hydrangea

Happy hydrangea!

Happy hydrangea! (This photo is from June 11... before the blooms got going)

The other thing about Endless Summer Hydrangea is that it blooms on both new and old wood.  Ours dies back every fall.  We leave the old leaves on to give a little shelter for the winter.  In the spring, we pull the dead leaves off and there is usually some growth already starting in April.  It grows pretty quickly and the flower heads are huge!  Since we brought ours home, there are some other hydrangea varieites that have been developed.  All are beautiful and all would look great in your garden.

Dig it!

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  1. Mimi says:

    I have a hydrangea, I planted it out so it has part sun-part shade like the instructions said…right now it looks horrible, it has no blooms (which it did before it went outside) and I’m wondering if we planted it in the wrong place. It would be on the west side. Any help would be appreciated. And it is watered a lot so that isn’t it. The leaves look like they have a fungus problem, but there is new growth.

  2. eloan says:

    Mimi, different hydrangeas have different problems. The main problem with hydrangeas not flowering are too much shade, improper pruning and too much high-nitrogen fertilizer. I am only assuming that you have a type of hydrangea that blooms on new growth, so I am throwing that problem out. You may still not have enough sunlight for the hydrangea. Most of what I have read suggests morning sun and afternoon shade. If you have a tree or other building to the west of where the hydrangea is at, it may not be getting enough sun. It won’t have the morning sun and will only be able to get a little afternoon sun. Check your pH of the soil since too much nitrogen may be the culprit too. As for the fungus problem, it may depend on what kind of hydrangea you have. Smooth leaf varieties, like the Endless Summer and others that bloom on this years growth, can get powdery mildew although it is more common on bigleaf varieties. This is a grey powdery looking substance and can have purple blotches as well. This can happen in areas with too much shade and high humidity. Another problem could be fungal leaf spot. These create brown to grey lesions with a purple halo around them on the leaf and are most common in late summer to early fall. Neither of these are usually fatal to the plant, but they don’t help the looks of the plant. I would cut off the affected branches and dispose of them. If it is all over everything, you may want to cut it back this fall, although, as mentioned above, it is rarely fatal to the plant. I hope this helps a bit. If not, send me a photo of the plant and where it is planted to eloan@kwwl.com and I can post it to get more responses.

  3. Mimi says:

    Eileen-
    Just want to report in and let you know that we had to trim our maple tree back, the sun now flows through so much better and my hydrangea actually has several small but visable buds on it! Thank you for your help!

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