Tips to Grow Hydrangeas under Pine Trees? (2023)

There are very few plants that can grow under trees that have a dense shade. If you are planning to grow hydrangeas under pine tree, you might wonder if your hydrangea will grow healthy.

Hydrangeas can grow under pine trees under optimal conditions. The Pine canopy should not be too thick and provide dappled sunlight to the hydrangeas.

If the canopy of the pine tree is too dense, it will prevent any sunlight and rainfall from reaching the hydrangeas.

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Factors responsible for while growing Hydrangeas under Pine trees

Let us look at the factors that would be responsible for the healthy growth of Hydrangea while it grows under the canopy of Pine trees.

1. Suitable Soil for hydrangeas under pine trees

Here are the attributes required for the soil for Hydrangeas to grow best under Pine trees.

Soil pH

Pine trees prefer soil that is acidic.

Therefore, the pH of the soil where pine trees grow will naturally be acidic. Not only that, the soil is likely composed of decades of mulch that includes a lot of pine needles that have fallen over the years. These pine needles are also slightly acidic or neutral.

However, as they decompose in the soil, the organic matter that develops is only slightly acidic or even pH neutral.

That is why, although a lot of people believe that pine needles impact the pH of the soil greatly, it is not true. The difference will be slight. Hydrangeas do very well in acidic soil.

If the variety of hydrangea that you have belongs to the species Hydrangea Macrophylla or Bigleaf hydrangea, the flowers will be blue in color.

This is because the color of the hydrangea blooms changes depending on the pH of the soil.

So, if you want pink hydrangeas which need slightly alkaline soil, you will have to increase the pH of the soil by adding lime or wood ash, which are both alkaline in nature.

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Soil structure

The structure of the soil under pine trees may not be the best for growing hydrangeas. However, with a few changes, you can adjust the conditions to be more suitable for hydrangeas.

You will need to add a lot of organic matter to the area of the soil where you are going to plant your hydrangea. It should be at least 6 inches deep and wide enough to accommodate the size of the root system of the plant when it reaches full maturity.

Gardeners use garden compost, leaf mould, or farm manure to mix with the soil. They will all help in retaining moisture in the soil as well as allowing water to flow out freely so that it does not collect around the roots and make the soil water-logged.

This organic material will also help to make the soil more fertile. The pH of the soil will also remain at around 6 to 7.

Organic matter is also essential. One of the reasons that hydrangeas die is that they are not able to soak up sufficient water from the soil.

Adding organic matter will help to maintain the balance of moisture in the soil that hydrangeas need.


If your hydrangea is planted under a pine tree where it is not getting an adequate amount of moisture, regular mulching can help greatly.

Apply a layer of mulch at least 2 inches thick to the soil surrounding your hydrangea. Make sure there is a distance of at least 6 inches between the mulch and the stems of the hydrangea. As hydrangea does not like to be consistently exposed to the moist or wet material.

There are a lot of benefits of mulching around your hydrangea.

  • Mulch improves the texture of the soil.
  • It retains water in the soil so that it is sufficiently moist for the roots of the plant.
  • Mulching also adds nutrients to the soil.
  • It stimulates the beneficial ecosystem of the soil.
  • Mulching helps prevent the growth of weeds.

You need to add mulch to the soil around your hydrangea immediately after it has been planted. This is because the plant is most prone to drought right after planting.

A lot of materials can be used for mulching, but for dry conditions, the best materials are compost, manure, or leaf mould.

These materials can hold moisture really well, while their structure allows water to drain easily, which is what hydrangeas require.

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2. Watering hydrangeas

It is very important to make sure that plants planted under pine trees receive enough water.

Pine trees can prevent other plants from getting an adequate amount of water. Often, the rain gets caught in the canopy of the tree, which means that it does not reach the ground at all.

Not only that, the root system of pine trees is vast and requires a lot of water. The tree can soak up the water from the area, leaving very little for the rest of the plants.

Hydrangeas are also thirsty plants. Therefore, it is essential to water your hydrangeas regularly, especially during the spring and summer seasons when it can get hot and dry.

The best way to maintain and control the optimal amount of water and moisture is to use a soaker hose irrigation system. This will provide the plant with water gradually during the hot summer days.

If an irrigation system is not possible, then you will need to provide your hydrangea with around 2 gallons of water every 2 to 3 days during the growing season. The soil needs to be moist at all times.

You can check the moisture of the soil by pushing your finger up to 1 inch through the soil. If it is dry to the touch, you need to increase the frequency of watering the plant. Increase the frequency to every other day if needed.

It seems like too much water, especially when hydrangeas do not like waterlogged soil. However, you need to remember that the hydrangea competes with the root system of the pine tree for moisture.

Therefore, you need to keep an eye on the moisture level of the soil around your hydrangea and adjust the watering frequency accordingly.

During winter, hydrangea becomes dormant. At this point, it does not need any additional moisture.

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3. Light

Hydrangeas need sunlight to grow well. They cannot grow properly in complete shade. Even if they do get established in full shade, they will not be able to bloom and flourish to their potential.

If your hydrangea is under a pine tree that is completely blocking the light from reaching your plant, you may need to remove some of the branches to let light in.

Matured and established pine trees will not face any issue with cutting off some of the branches at any time of the year, but the best time to do so is in winter.

If the pine tree is casting dappled light on your hydrangea through the canopy, it is enough for the hydrangea to grow properly as long as the soil has adequate organic matter.

Most of the hydrangea varieties require the morning sun with partial shade in the afternoon. Some varieties can grow in full sun, but it can also slow down the rate of growth.

Bigleaf hydrangeas grow best in full shade.

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4. Fertilizers

If your hydrangea is planted in soil that has a good amount of organic matter and gets mulched once or twice a year, fertilizers are not really necessary.

However, pine trees and hydrangeas both have a vast but shallow root system. Therefore, both have to compete for nutrients in the soil.

Pine trees, having been established for years, often soak up all the nutrients. Therefore, adding fertilizers to the hydrangea plant can be a good idea to ensure that the plant does not lack any nutrients needed to produce blooms.

Hydrangeas are not fussy plants, so you can apply a helping of fertilizer once in spring and then in July to make sure that the plant grows healthy and blooms properly.

If you have soil with poor fertility, you might want to use some special fertilizers.

Granular slow-release fertilizers need to be applied only two times a year. You need to follow the instructions given on the package.

There is not much risk of over-fertilizing your plant as it is a slow-release fertilizer. Over-fertilizing the plant can burn the roots and kill the plant.

Fertilizers should be added along with a good helping of mulch. Mulch helps soak the water while retaining the moisture in the soil. It also adds nutrients to the plant.

The best way to apply granular fertilizer is to move aside the mulch and apply the granules to the soil and then put the mulch back in place on top of the fertilizer.

Do not apply any fertilizers after August, as the plant starts to prepare for dormancy during winters, and adding fertilizers will stimulate new growth.

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Best hydrangeas to grow under pine trees

The best variety of hydrangeas to grow under pine trees is Hydrangea Macrophylla, or the Bigleaf hydrangea, as it is commonly called.

There are many varieties in this species of hydrangea which come in different colors. They have large foliage that looks good even when the plant is not in its blooming season.

Bigleaf hydrangeas will flower even in the shade and dappled light, but the flowers will grow much larger and better in a good amount of sunlight.

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Attributes required by plants to grow under pine trees

Plants that meet the following requirements can grow well under pine trees:

  • Can grow well in acidic soil.
  • Do not need much sunlight and can live in shade.
  • Require less water.
  • Can handle the falling pine needles.

Other plants that grow well under pine trees

  • Lily of the Valley
  • Wild geraniums
  • Rhododendron
  • Bleeding hearts
  • Columbines
  • Jacob’s ladder
  • Sweet woodruff
  • Creeping Phlox
  • Bearberry plants


Tips to Grow Hydrangeas under Pine Trees? ›

Hydrangeas grow well under pine trees. It's best to choose a drought-tolerant Hydrangea variety, and be sure to mulch your plants well. Water regularly until it establishes itself. Once it has, it will provide a stunning display of flowers beneath your pine trees.

Do hydrangeas like pine needles? ›

Hydrangeas benefit from an organic mulch that decomposes and adds nutrients to the soil. Chopped leaves, compost, pine straw and pine bark are examples of organic mulches suitable for hydrangeas.

Can I plant a hydrangea under a tree? ›

Unless the shrubs are planted in a raised bed that sits above the root system of trees, avoid planting hydrangeas directly beneath trees where they must compete for water and nutrition. The shrubs grow best in soil that contains plenty of organic material and good drainage.

How do you landscape under a pine tree? ›

How to Landscape Under Pine Trees
  1. Rake well under the pine trees, removing small rocks and pieces of wood as well as fallen evergreen needles. ...
  2. Plant a ground cover such as California strawberries (Frageria Californica) for a carpet of short greenery approximating a lawn. ...
  3. Add greenery plus flowers under your pine trees.
Dec 14, 2018

Can I plant a hydrangea under a pine tree? ›

Growing Hydrangeas under pine trees is possible if there is some sunlight able to reach the ground below. The Bigleaf hydrangea species is most suited to growing in dappled light or partial shade conditions.

Can hydrangeas live under pine trees? ›

Hydrangeas grow well under pine trees. It's best to choose a drought-tolerant Hydrangea variety, and be sure to mulch your plants well. Water regularly until it establishes itself. Once it has, it will provide a stunning display of flowers beneath your pine trees.

What month is best to plant hydrangeas? ›

What month is best to plant hydrangeas? The months of both spring and fall are best for planting hydrangeas, so long as the weather is mild. In spring, this should be after frost season, and in fall, before it begins again. If you need to plant in other months, avoid those that are very hot or very cold.

How do you plant hydrangeas under a tree? ›

Hydrangea should be planted away from the main roots of the tree. To be safe, it is best to plant your hydrangeas out of reach of the tree's main roots. Hydrangeas (with the exception of Hydrangea paniculata which prefers full sun) do best in partial shade with morning sun for about four to six hours.

What do you put in a hole when planting hydrangeas? ›

As with rhododendrons, the most important thing is to thoroughly prepare the soil for the Hydrangeas. For loamy, compacted soils in particular, you should dig a large hole and then mix the excavated soil with leaf humus at a ratio of at least 1:1. If you don't have any of this, you can also use bark humus.

Do hydrangeas need a lot of water? ›

Hydrangea Care Tips

Water at a rate of 1 inch per week throughout the growing season. Deeply water 3 times a week to encourage root growth. Bigleaf and smooth hydrangeas require more water, but all varieties benefit from consistent moisture.

Are coffee grounds bad for hydrangeas? ›

If you're growing hydrangeas, use coffee grounds to affect their color. Coffee grounds add extra acidity to the soil around hydrangeas. On a chemical level, this increased acidity makes it easier for the plant to absorb naturally occurring aluminum in the dirt. The effect is pretty blue clusters of flowers.

Do hydrangeas prefer morning or afternoon sun? ›

Most hydrangeas prefer only morning sun. Yet one type of hydrangea can soak up the sun all day: the panicle hydrangea. While they can stand the sun, these do just fine in partial shade, too. Plus, panicle hydrangeas are the hardiest hydrangeas.

What do you put in soil under pine trees? ›

Pine needles themselves are acidic but do not have the capacity to appreciably lower the soil pH. To do that, it is necessary to incorporate a soil acidifier such as sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

Do hydrangeas like pine bark? ›

Hydrangeas don't like to compete with other plants at their base so it's best to avoid planting aggressive ground cover plants around them. Give them a good natural mulch like shredded pine bark.

What do I put in my soil before planting hydrangeas? ›

To loosen the soil, mix dehydrated cow manure, garden compost or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. Make sure the peat moss you get is either baled sphagnum or granular peat.

Do hydrangeas grow better in pots or in the ground? ›

*We don't recommend oakleaf hydrangeas because they don't often look their best when grown in a container. They flourish when planted in the ground. But if you enjoy the look, go for it! For a temporary planting, pick a hydrangea that's already the physical size that suits your needs.

Are my hydrangeas in soil that is acidic or basic? ›

Hydrangeas and pH

In acidic soil (below a pH of 6), their flowers will be blue. In alkaline soil (with a pH above 7), their flowers will be pink, or even red. In neutral to slightly acid soil, these hydrangeas can have purple blooms, or even a mixture of pink and blue blooms on the same plant.

What color are hydrangeas in acidic soil? ›

Red or pink blooms result from neutral or basic soil (pH 7 and above), whereas blue blooms indicate acidic conditions (pH less than 7).

What does baking soda do for hydrangeas? ›

This common household item is surprisingly effective at helping perk up plants and brighten blooms. For hydrangeas specifically, adding baking soda helps the plant retain more moisture in the roots. When this happens, the result is bigger blooms with more vibrant colors that last longer than they would otherwise.

How often do you water hydrangeas after planting? ›

Watering Newly Planted Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas in the ground should be watered at least 3 times a week when planted to help establish a strong root system. They have shallow roots so mulch is an absolute must!

Should you deadhead hydrangeas in fall or spring? ›

You should deadhead throughout the blooming season to keep your hydrangeas looking their beast and encourage new flower growth. However, stop deadheading hydrangea shrubs in mid to late fall, leaving any spent blooms in place.

How deep do you bury hydrangeas? ›

Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. The base of the plant (where the stem meets the soil) should be level with the top of the planting hole. Set the plant in the hole and fill it half full with soil. Water generously.

How many hydrangeas should I plant? ›

Leave adequate space between plants to allow airflow for happy plants (and happy gardeners). All of our plant pages have spacing recommendations under the “more information” section in the “how to grow” tab. Incrediball hydrangeas are recommended to be 3-5 feet apart, so you can plant them spaced 3 feet if you wish.

How far down do you plant hydrangeas? ›

For best results when planting hydrangeas, follow these steps: Create a hole twice as wide as the plant's root system, and about six inches deeper than the plant's pot. Break up the soil a bit before you plant to help the roots easily establish themselves.

Should you water hydrangeas after planting? ›

After you plant the hydrangea into the amended soil, be sure to add a thick layer of mulch. This will prevent weeds and maintain soil moisture. Then, give the plant a deep watering right after planting. Then again once or twice a week to keep the soil moist but not soggy (see watering tips below).

What are the easiest hydrangeas to grow? ›

Oakleaf varieties are the easiest type of hydrangeas for beginners to grow. Why are oakleaf hydrangeas so easy? They aren't picky! Oakleaf hydrangeas can tolerate colder weather, handle more sun, withstand drought, are more disease/pest resistant and grow in sandy soil better than other hydrangeas.

Do hydrangeas like mulch? ›

A 2-3” layer of mulch around the base will help keep the moisture in as well but remember, no “volcano” mulching (where you pile the mulch higher up next stem). Mulching around your hydrangea will encourage deep roots to develop, adding to winter hardiness.

Why do you soak hydrangeas in water? ›

“Soak the blooms in warmish water for 30 to 40 minutes,” he advises. Why? According to Hale, hydrangeas take in water through the flower petals as well as through the stems. Submerging your cut hydrangea gives the flowers a chance to take in lots of water and revive.

Should you cut dead hydrangea flowers? ›

In addition to bolstering future blooms and strengthening stems, deadheading your hydrangeas has aesthetic benefits, too. "Removing faded flowers creates a neat and tidy appearance, which many gardeners prefer over the look of leaving dried flowers on the plant," says Meyers.

Are egg shells good for hydrangeas? ›

If you want pink hydrangeas, crushed eggshells may be one way to get them. Eggshells will slowly break down and reduce the acidity of your soil—making it harder for hydrangeas to absorb aluminum.

Are Epsom salts good for hydrangeas? ›

Hydrangea macrophylla, ones with pink and blue ones, are affected by the pH of the soil. A pH below 6 is best for blue flowers; above 6 encourages pink ones. Adding Epsom salts to your plant increases the amount of magnesium in the soil.

Do hydrangeas like vinegar? ›

Hydrangea flowers will be pink in alkaline soil, but change to blue in acidic soil. So, mix up some apple cider vinegar and water, and give all the acid-loving plants a treat.

What happens if hydrangea gets too much sun? ›

Too much sun exposure can cause your hydrangea shrubs to burn on its leaves and blooms. Also, be sure to put your fingers in the soil to see if it needs watering. We do recommend a soak versus light watering each day, but you should be sure that the soil is always moist – not wet – by sticking your fingers in the dirt.

Do hydrangeas need to be cut back for winter? ›

Cut back these shrubs in late winter before new growth begins. Because they need to grow and set buds the same year that they bloom, shrubs that flower on new wood generally start blossoming later than old-growth bloomers, beginning in midsummer and continuing until the first frost.

Do hydrangeas like hot weather? ›

Hydrangeas are plants that love water, which made the heat particularly tough for them. When hot temperatures occur, plants need to cool themselves, just as we seek a cool place during the heat of the day. Unfortunately for plants, they can't get up and move!

Should you put lime under pine trees? ›

Acidic Soil: Unlike grass, pine trees prefer acidic soil.

You can try to balance the soil by raking up the pine needles that have fallen, hoeing the dirt around the tree, and mixing in lime, approximately one 25-pound bag per large pine tree or two small ones.

Should you mulch under pine trees? ›

According to Las Pilitas Nursery, pine trees benefit most from a mulch of chipped redwood, oak, pine or chaparral.

Will milkweed grow under pine trees? ›

Aptly named, Swamp Milkweed does very well in boggy conditions. It prefers slightly acidic spoil so it should be happy with the pine.

Do mosquitoes hate pine needles? ›

Do pine trees attract mosquitoes? Pine trees attract mosquitoes, not because of the delicate pine aroma but the damp and sheltered environment the tree creates. This dark and humid environment allows mosquitoes to procreate and breed comfortably.

Why won't things grow under pine trees? ›

Dense shade and extreme dryness cause most plants not to grow under pine trees. Pine trees have a dense root system and are strong competitors for soil nutrients and moisture.

What kills pine needles? ›

Pine needle weevils (Scythropus) chew notches along the length of pine needles causing them to brown and fall off. The insects are 1/4 inch long and look like beetles with brownish snouts. Their rough-surfaced bodies are black to brown with lighter splotches on their backs.

Will pine needles turn hydrangeas blue? ›

If your hydrangeas are pink (meaning your soil is alkaline) and you want them to turn blue, make the soil more acidic by adding aluminum sulfate or a soil-acidifying treatment, which can be purchased at any garden center. Adding pine needles, compost, and even coffee grounds to the soil can help, too.

Do pine needles stop plants from growing? ›

These pine needles cover the ground under the tree which keeps other plants from growing there. The pine needles contain acid, which goes into the soil when the needles start to decompose. This acid doesn't hurt the pine tree, but discourages or kills other plants growing near it.

Will pine needles make hydrangeas blue? ›

If your hydrangeas are pink (meaning your soil is alkaline) and you want them to turn blue, make the soil more acidic by adding aluminum sulfate or a soil-acidifying treatment, which can be purchased at any garden center. Adding pine needles, compost, and even coffee grounds to the soil can help, too.

What plants benefit from pine needles? ›

Pansies, zinnias, snapdragons, dahlias and marigolds respond well when mulched with pine needles, especially since pine straw is light enough for young annual plants or bulbs to push through as they grow toward the sun.

What is the best mulch to use around hydrangeas? ›

To give hydrangeas their best chance at success, apply a layer of chunky mulch around the base of the plant. Decorative mulch is helpful but we recommend straw, marsh hay, or fallen leaves.

Do coffee grounds help turn hydrangeas blue? ›

Some gardeners report success in turning their hydrangeas blue by applying coffee grounds to the soil. The coffee grounds make the soil more acidic, allowing the hydrangea to more easily absorb aluminum. In addition, fruit peels, lawn clippings, peat moss and pine needles, are thought to have a similar effect.

How much vinegar do you need to turn hydrangeas blue? ›

Use vinegar diluted with water in a ratio of 20 parts water to one part apple cider vinegar. Water the plants along their base. Try not to get the vinegar-and-water solution onto the leaves, because it can burn the foliage.

Is Miracle Grow good for pine trees? ›

If you are looking to nourish your pine tree through and through, the Miracle Gro'N Shake feed is an excellent option. Loaded with organic ingredients this fertilizer will not just lead to a growth spike but will also ensure that your trees are healthy.

Do pine needles attract rodents? ›

Pine needles on their own do not necessarily attract rodents. When the layer of needles is deeper than 3 inches, especially in cold weather or near the end of autumn, it becomes an attractive area for some burrowing rodents.

What makes hydrangeas thrive? ›

Most hydrangeas will thrive in fertile, well-draining soils that receive plenty of moisture. Add compost to enrich poor soil. Generally, hydrangeas prefer partial sun. Ideally, they will be given full sun in the morning, followed by some afternoon shade to protect them from the hot midday sun.


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