We love hydrangeas because their flowers are so huge and showy, yet often those large blooms are so heavy that they end up down in the mud. ‘Annabelle’ is one of the worst in my garden, so it’s the one I support every year. Here’s what I do:
Here is how my ‘Annabelle’ looks once the flowers are open and heavy.
Put a bamboo cane in the center of the plant, pushing it down into the soil over a foot into the ground. The top of the cane should end up about a foot shorter than the hydrangea canes once they are pulled upright.
Take a soft cord that isn’t a bright color and tie it onto the cane. Take that cord out and around a hydrangea stem, pulling it upright close to the stake. One by one go out and around stems, circling back around the stake after each. Pull the stems to various heights – some close to the stake, some farther away, so that the plant will end up with a natural look. Once about a third of the shrub’s stems are supported at various angles tie the cord to the bamboo again. Once you finish the cords will resemble the spokes of an umbrella, going out and in on all sides.
Here is the finished plant. The leaves hide the cords and because the stems are supported at different levels the plant doesn’t look “tied to a stake.”
I cut a few of the most horizontal stems since these flowers would just turn muddy in the first rain anyway. Flopping hydrangea stems is a good excuse to bring in a bouquet!
I use this method for supporting flopping peonies too.