Known for their beautiful flower heads and lush foliage, hydrangea or hortensia is a popular garden staple with a long bloom period. With more than 70 species of flowering plants, hydrangeas are certainly diverse.
While hydrangeas are easy to cultivate and tolerate almost any type of soil, to maintain these gorgeous flowers and get the biggest blooms, it’s important to feed them regularly and with the right nutrient balance.
In this article, we will reveal the best hydrangea fertilizers, as well as some useful tips on how and when to feed these shrub-like super bloomers.
- What is the Best Fertilizer for Hydrangeas?
- Best Hydrangea Fertilizers Reviewed
- 1. Miracle-Gro for Acid Loving Plants
- 2. Jobe’s Organics Garden Lime Soil Amendment
- 3. Espoma HT18 Holly Tone Fertilizer
- 4. Jobe’s Organics Soil Acidifier
- 5. Vitax Hydrangea Feed
- How to Fertilize Hydrangeas?
- When to Fertilize Hydrangeas?
- How Often to Fertilize Hydrangeas?
- Conclusion Best Hydrangea Fertilizer
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Fertilizer for Hydrangeas?
Feeding hydrangeas is fairly simple once you learn the basic rules. Almost all the varieties of these flowers will benefit from a light and well-drained soil. If you are growing your hydrangeas in clay-like soil, you may want to add some compost or leaves to your soil.
Either organic or chemical fertilizers can be used for hydrangeas. An organic matter can consist of manure, bone meal, and compost to produce excellent results and improve the soil condition. Therefore, it’s best to use an organic fertilizer combined with a shot of chemical fertilizer for best results.
When choosing a chemical fertilizer, opt for a slow-release, balanced granular product that’s formulated for shrubs. This type of fertilizer works well on hydrangeas, but it must be covered with enough soil in order to release properly.
Slow-release granular fertilizer is certainly not the only way to feed hydrangeas. A fast-release, all-purpose fertilizer will work just as well – as long as you test your soil first to match the trace elements with your soil’s needs.
So the answer to “what is the best fertilizer for hydrangeas” is an all-purpose product that will provide the flowers with all the necessary nutrients to thrive. Either an organic or chemical source (or a combination of both) can be used successfully.
Need help choosing the best fertilizer for hydrangeas? It is sometimes helpful to see a list of popular fertilizing products to get an idea of what’s available out there. Keep reading for our pick of the best products on the market.
Best Hydrangea Fertilizers Reviewed
We delved deep into the market to find the best hydrangea fertilizers available. Our main considerations are with the quality of the fertilizer nutrient balance, color performance, and ease of use. As well as our own tests and experts’ opinions, we also take into account customer reviews across many major online platforms and growers forums to demonstrate the overall customer satisfaction with the products we have reviewed.
This water-soluble plant food fertilizer from the premium brand, Miracle-Gro, is a fast-acting granular feed that will work instantly on all acid-loving plants including hydrangeas. With the help of this fertilizer, you will enjoy bigger blooms and luxuriant foliage for longer. It promises to feed, ironize, and acidify instantly as a fast-release fertilizer.
How to use: For best results, use the hydrangea fertilizer once a week or every two weeks. You can either use a watering can or a sprayer. For outdoor hydrangeas: mix 1 tablespoon of the fertilizer with one gallon of water. For indoor plants: mix half a teaspoon (yes teaspoon!) per one gallon of water.
Since this product is fast working and yields great results, we consider it as the best fertilizer for hydrangeas. It has the power to turn pale or washed-out looking hydrangeas into natural blue after the first application.
We were especially pleased with the fact that the Miracle-Gro fertilizer for hydrangeas is in the form of granules not liquid. Just for the simplicity of use, it’s easier to control and a little less messy to handle. Miracle-Gro can also be put to great use as a rhododendron fertilizer or when fertilizing azaleas.
Customer Reviews: The performance of this product is second to none with over 25,000 5/5 reviews. Miracle-Gro is a global brand that has gained a lot of trust through its consistently deliver customer satisfaction. A lot of customers were impressed at just how fast this product kickstarts a sad-looking plant and the consensus agrees with our view that it’s the best fertilizer for hydrangeas.
- Brings lackluster flowers back to life
- Fast-acting and highly effective hydrangea fertilizer
- A proven track record of delivering results
- Small packet for a premium price
Another top-rated organic hydrangea fertilizer is the Jobe’s Garden Lime, an ideal granular fertilizer for increasing the pH levels in soil in order to promote plant growth. This organic granular maximizes the soil’s alkalinity since low pH can cause poor soil structure. Hydrangeas, just like most other flowering plants, grow best in a soil pH of between 6.5 and 6.8. Anything below the minimum 6.0 means the nutrients can’t be absorbed.
By adding the Organics Garden Lime fertilizer to your soil, the pH level will increase and the nutrients can be better absorbed. Note: Before applying this product, be sure to test your soil’s pH first.
If your soil is lacking pH, it may be the reason why your hydrangeas aren’t thriving. If you’re wondering how to make hydrangeas pink, this organic product will do just that, and help them remain healthy and vibrant throughout the season.
How to use: apply the granules at planting and again 2-3 times per year to maintain the right soil pH levels. Since this product is an organic fertilizer, it is safe for use around pets and children.
Customer Reviews: From over 2,000 users who tried this fertilizer for hydrangeas, a staggering 75% of them gave this product 5/5. They were especially impressed with how quickly their plants started flowering thanks to the bone meal and the other nutrients present in this product.
- Easy to pour bag
- Increases soil pH – turns hydrangeas pink
- Instant results (flowering occurs within 3 days)
- Doesn’t go far if you have lots of hydrangeas to grow
- So popular it is sometimes sold out
Our next pick of the best fertilizer for hydrangeas is an organic product from the brand, Espoma. The Holly Tone fertilizer comes in a generously-sized 18-pound bag and is specially formulated to work for many different types of plants, not just hydrangeas.
Those who have an organic flowerbed or garden will find this product especially useful for healthier plant growth. With its special Bio-tone microbes that no other brand offers, we are quite certain that your hydrangeas will love this all-natural fertilizer just as much as our plants did.
Just like Miracle-Gro, the Holly Tone fertilizer is also fast-acting and can be applied once per month prior to rainfall. What makes this product stand out, however, is that you can use it sparingly since it is purely of organic matter.
How to use: for young hydrangeas, prepare the soil and mix 2 cups of Holly Tone with one cubic foot of soil. For established hydrangeas, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the fertilizer into 3 inches of soil along the outer edge of the pot.
Customer Reviews: Espoma is not as well known as some of the other brands in our trials, but the many experienced gardeners including myself have used it with great success. Consumers who use Holly Tone fertilizer feedback on how they notice healthier plant growth within a short period of time. So based on our experience and other users’ online reviews, we can safely say this is well-deserving of a place on our best hydrangea fertilizer list.
- Won’t burn the plant unlike some other fertilizers
- Fast-acting results
- Organic ingredients
- Can be premium priced in some regions
Jobe’s has come up with another brilliant product that promises to improve plant hardiness and its resistance to disease. Improve the color and appearance of your hydrangeas with this organic soil acidifier. It will effectively turn pink hydrangeas blue. The all-natural fertilizer can also be used for turf, blueberries, and azaleas.
The organic fertilizer works by decreasing the soil’s alkalinity using all-natural ingredients. The granular formula promotes darker green growth without harmful chemicals that can burn plants.
To balance the alkaline soils, this is the ideal fertilizer to use. However, be sure to test your soil’s pH before applying the product.
How to use: pour the granules at planting time and reapply 2-3 times per year to maintain the correct pH level in soil.
What we love about this organic fertilizer is its all-natural ingredients including sulfur, which is used to correct alkaline soils. Sulfur also helps produce the much-needed proteins that plants need, while gypsum helps develop vitamins and enzymes.
Customer Reviews: Users were just as pleased with the performance of this fertilizer as they were with the Garden Lime product from the same manufacturer, making this natural fertilizer from Jobe, another top quality product that must be on our list.
- Highly effective and fast results
- Won’t burn plants
- Easy to pour bag
- Small packet for premium price
Vitax Fertilizer for Hydrangeas has been developed to improve flower yield and provide a boost throughout the flowering season. With a nutrient composition (N-P-K) of 8-4-12 with added magnesium and iron, so it delivers high-quality foliage and large flower heads. Its primary purpose is a fertilizer and not a soil amendment, so you will not see any specific changes to flower color as you will with some of the other products we have reviewed.
How to use: Apply one handful (35g) of Vitax Hydrangea Food around the base of the plant whilst planting. Through spring apply as a top dressing and lightly dig in or rake over the soil. In dry weather, make sure you water the ground beforehand for the best results.
Customer Reviews: A really simple top dressing to use, one handful per plant or 70g (two handfuls) per square meter. Customers report an average score across all retail platforms and forums of 4.5/5. However, this is a potent hydrangea fertilizer and you do need to follow the dosage instructions, customers who have been carefree have suffered from damaged plants.
- A really good hydrangea food to support large blooming flowers
- Supports a full season-long flower display
- Powerful feed and manufacturer dosages must be followed
How to Fertilize Hydrangeas?
Knowing how to fertilize hydrangeas is just as important as the product you use to feed them with. The amount of fertilizer used depends on the size of the plant as well as its root system. Applying too much fertilizer is much more harmful than under-fertilization. You’ll risk burning the plant, diminish bloom, or even worse, kill the hydrangea.
To avoid damaging your hydrangeas, don’t use quick-release fertilizers that contain high amounts of nitrogen. Pay attention to the first of the three numbers on the package, the letter N (N-P-K) which is the nitrogen content.
Fertilizers come in different forms and require different application methods. Here are the most common types of fertilizers and how to use them:
Pre-measured spikes: these are the easiest to use fertilizers as all you need to do is remove a spike from the bag and embed it into the soil (around 1 inch deep) using a mallet or just push it in with your fingers if the soli is soft enough. Water the soil afterward. Note: you must know the plant’s diameter before determining how many spikes to use.
Liquid fertilizers: these fast-absorbing products require a sprayer or watering can be applied directly onto the plant. Some liquid fertilizers don’t require any mixing and are ready to use straight out of the bottle, others are concentrated and will need diluting.
The downside of such products is the high salt content that may burn the leaves of the plant.
Granular fertilizers: the application method of pellet-style fertilizers differ from one product to another, but many times, they come with a special scoop to sprinkle around the plant. You might need to cover the granules with an inch of topsoil for the best results. After sprinkling the granules, water the plant as per the product’s instructions. Granular fertilizers are the most popular because of how easy and effective they are to apply.
When to Fertilize Hydrangeas?
Young hydrangeas require light fertilization with a quick-release fertilizer in the months of March, May, and July. Once they start forming their buds, feed them with around 4 ounces of balanced fertilizer in early spring and again once they bloom.
Never fertilize hydrangeas after August as fall is the time for these shrubs to prepare for dormancy. Fertilizing around this time will weaken them pre-winter.
In warmer climates, late May and July applications will suffice. In cooler regions, it may be best to fertilize hydrangeas only once in June or July.
Whether you live in a warm or cold area, always stop feeding around two months before the first frost appears. While late fertilization produces plenty of lush growth, it can weaken the hydrangeas’ ability to withstand harsh winter weather during its dormancy period. Additionally, tender new leaves allow the cold to absorb into the foliage which can lead to the plant being damaged.
Expert tip: when to fertilize hydrangeas
To ensure the best growth, apply a low-phosphorus 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 sq feet in March, May, and July. Make sure you don’t remove the mulch from the soil while fertilizing. The climbing varieties of hydrangeas can benefit from April and June fertilizing with a general-purpose organic or chemical fertilizer.
How Often to Fertilize Hydrangeas?
The rule of thumb is to fertilize hydrangeas once every month starting in March. This, of course, depends on when your region has spring and summer. If you live in a warmer climate, for example, your spring may only be a short season. Similarly, if you live in a cooler climate, you won’t have much of a summer so it’s best to consider feeding your hydrangeas once a month from March until July. Stop fertilization from August.
Some fertilizers have specific instructions on how often they can be used. In general, you may need to feed your hydrangeas every two weeks for a month and then once a month thereafter. However, this depends on whether you use fast-release or slow-release formula as you usually have to wait longer between feeding sessions if using the latter. So just be sure to read the manufacturer’s instruction to get the best out of the product you purchase.
Conclusion Best Hydrangea Fertilizer
Choosing the best fertilizer for hydrangeas is easy when you know what you’re looking for. For those who want a no-fuss, no mess organic fertilization method, the fertilizers from Jobe’s comes highly recommended by our team.
There is also the highly effective chemical fertilizer from Miracle-Gro that’s designed to thoroughly feed hydrangeas all the way to the leaves and roots and help them thrive. With all the above information we have put at your disposal, you should now be able to make the right choice and select the best hydrangea fertilizer for your garden!