“I live in Central Florida, zone 9b, can I grow hydrangeas in this zone? I used to have them in Maryland as they are my favorite flower. Not sure about the sandy soil here.” Question from Eileen of Longwood, Florida
Answer: Many hydrangeas require cold winters to survive, but there are some truly beautiful hydrangeas that will grow well way down South. These are bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) varieties. (Click on this link to view many excellent bigleaf hydrangeas from Proven Winners.) Keep in mind, you are right on the most southerly edge of their heat tolerance. They are able to survive in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9, so you will want to give them extra good care at planting time and protect them from scorching heat.
To keep your hydrangeas protected from the high heat of the day, plant them in a partially shaded location on the north side of your home, and amend the soil heavily with organic matter. Black Gold Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss and Black Gold Garden Compost Blend will really boost levels of water-holding organic matter. Follow up with a 2- to 3-inch layer of fine bark mulch or pine straw to reduce surface evaporation. If you experience any dry periods, be sure to irrigate your shrubs as needed. It also pays to feed them with a quality fertilizer formulated for flowering shrubs.
Happy hydrangea growing!
Black Gold Horticulturist