11 Reasons You’ll Love ‘Early Blue’ Hydrangeas

If you are thinking of planting 'Early Blue' hydrangea this season, you've come to the right place! There are many reasons to love this low-maintenance variety, especially with its beautiful blue blooms. In this article, gardening expert and hydrangea enthusiast Jill Drago walks through why she loves this popular hydrangea variety, and thinks you will too!

early blue hydrangea

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There are so many hydrangeas available it can be hard to make a choice. From soft pinks to rich purples, these blossoms are sure to suit any of your garden desires.  Often the most sought after hydrangea flowers are the big mophead blues.

Hydrangea macrophylla, also known as the bigleaf hydrangea, is one of the more popular types of hydrangea because this species produces those sought after blue blooms. Hydrangea macrophylla loves to be planted in well draining soil in partial shade. These flowering shrubs will bloom for most of the summer and into the fall.

A lovely and very versatile bigleaf hydrangea option is ‘Early Blue’. Read along for why we love this variety, and why we think you will too!

‘Early Blue’ Grows in Many Climates

'Early Blue' hydrangea in summer garden with big beautiful blooms. There are five blue flowers, some with a purple tint to them.
This variety prefers to grow in USDA zones 5-9 and in shade.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Early Blue’ is hardy in USDA zones 5-9. This means that it can grow happily in a good chunk of the United States.

When growing in zone 5 you may want to wrap your plant with burlap or plant bag over the winter to protect the buds that will have already formed. On the contrary, if you live in a hotter zone you will want to make sure that you plant in full shade to avoid the plant drying out too quickly.

It’s Easy to Find

Blue blooming shrub in the garden with five heads  of large blooms. There are light blue flowers, some with a purple tint to them.
This variety can be purchased at garden centers.

‘Early Blue’ is available at most garden centers amongst the rest of the bigleaf hydrangeas. If you cannot find it, it is easily specially ordered by your trusty garden center employees.

Hydrangeas can be found in many different sizes, and at most times throughout the year. In the late summer, you can usually find them at a deep discount.

It’s Easy to Propagate

This variety can easily be propagated to create more plants on the cheap! You can try rooting cuttings, or ground layering. Both of these will be successful if you have a little bit of patience.

Rooting from cuttings

A close up image of cuttings on a wooden table, with pruning shears. Leaf cuttings lay around the table center, as well as many clipped leaves and some rooting hormone in a small bowl.
Cut off a healthy cutting and place it in the rooting hormone and then in a moist plant medium.

You will want to start with a piece of a green stem that is about five inches long, make sure that there is at least one set of leaves on it.  Strip off all of the leaves except for one piece.

Next, dip your cutting in some rooting hormone, and then stick the cutting into some sterile plant medium. Keep your cutting moist, and you will have new roots growing in just a couple of weeks.

Ground Layering Propagation

A gardener is using a sharp knife to pull a branch off a shrub in the garden.
Scratch some of the bark off the branch with a knife and bury it about 2 inches into the soil.

This method of propagation is super simple and can be done outside right in your gardens. Start off by choosing a branch that is low to the ground and peel off the leaves from a good chunk of that branch, five inches in length should do.

Using your fingernail or garden snips scratch some of the bark off of the branch. Lower this section of the branch into the ground and bury it about two inches below the soil surface. Cover the branch with soil and place a stone on top to keep it in place.

Water as you would water your shrub. Soon this branch will have roots of its own and it can be cut from the mother plant and moved to another area of your garden.

They Are Low Maintenance

A blue flowering shrub that has green foliage in season around the plant. There are water droplets across the entire plant.
Typically, one inch of water per week is needed for regular watering.

‘Early Blue’ is just as easy to care for as most other low-maintenance hydrangea types.

They need about one inch of water per week in order to keep everything in order. Without this water the leaves and flowers may begin to wilt and turn brown.

‘Early Blue’ should be pruned very shortly after blooming ends to ensure that you do not damage any flower buds that may have formed. The good news about this variety is that they should not need to be pruned too frequently unless you intend on keeping them small. Deadheading the spent blooms should suffice just fine.

Great For Shady Spots

A bright blue flowering shrub is blooming in the garden. The blooms on the plant are bright blue, and some have a purple tint to them. There are approximately twenty blooms, layered with bright green foliage.
Plant in shady places but with access to the sun for 4 to 6 hours.

‘Early Blue’ hydrangeas like to be planted in partial shade. Partial shade can range anywhere from 4-6 hours of sunlight, and it is best if that sunlight is in the morning. The few hours of sunlight the hydrangea will receive will ensure that the stems are nice and strong and able to support the pretty mophead flowers that this plant produces.

It is not common for such a robustly flowering shrub to thrive in the shade which is another reason that we love ‘Early Blue’. If you have plenty of shady space in your yard, this is the perfect variety to add for a gorgeous and long lasting blue bloom.

Longer Bloom Times

A closeup of a mophead of light blue blooms, with water droplets on each petal of the flowers.
This particular variety has a very long bloom time compared to others.

Some varieties of bigleaf hydrangeas including ‘Early Blue’ have the ability to rebloom, meaning that they bloom on old wood as well as new wood. This unique characteristic can help lengthen the bloom time substantially.

The only downside to a reblooming variety is that you will need to be a little bit more careful when you are pruning. ‘Early Blue’ is a smaller variety so it will not need to be pruned too often. When it does need a haircut, make sure you prune right after blooming has ceased. This will ensure that you will not remove any flower buds that will be forming in the fall.

Their Beautiful Blue Blooms

A shrub is blooming in the garden with blue flowers. There is green foliage in season at the bottom of the picture. The blue blooms rest atop the green stems and foliage.
This variety produces gorgeous vibrant blue-purple flowers.

The violet blue shade of this Hydrangea is perfect. The flowers open in midsummer a pale blue with green centers and age to a deep and vibrant violet in the fall.

As with most Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Early Blue’ is sensitive to the pH of your soil. If your goal is to have bright blue blooms, you will want to make sure your soil is acidic!

If you have alkaline soil and your ‘Early Blue’ hydrangeas are blooming in a shade of pink you are in luck. These blooms are sensitive to the pH of your soil, meaning that you can use a soil acidifier to turn your flowers blue.

They Are Very Versatile

Blue flowers and pink flowers are blooming atop the stems of the shrubs. There is foliage that is bright green at the base of each plant.
This fairly compact variety will make a great addition to your flower garden.

‘Early blue’ is a nice compact variety. At its full size, this variety will grow to four feet wide and high. This compact nature makes it easy to add this variety into any part of your garden. You could easily add this variety to your perennial gardens, or use it as a low growing border along a walkway.

Plant this variety in your cutting garden! These flowers make for gorgeous, long lasting flowers in your vases and arrangements. When they are dried they will maintain some of their blue tone, with minimal browning.

Minimal Issues with Pests

A closeup of a Japanese Beetle resting on the top of a blue flower.
The most common pests you’ll encounter include aphids and beetles.

Hydrangeas are known to be resilient plants and ‘Early Blue’ is no exception. There are common pests and diseases present in every garden. Aphids, beetles, and fungal diseases are among the most common.

The best way to prevent any of these hydrangea pests is by performing regular maintenance. This means planting them in partial shade, and keeping them watered. Insects as well as fungus love to attack plants that are already stressed because they make easy targets. Keeping a healthy plant will keep these bad bugs away.

They Are Great Companions

Shrubs are blooming in the garden, with purplish-blue flowers. They are in pots, many of them are stone terra cotta pots, or stone pots painted blue. There are other plants next to the  hydrangea blooming in pink.
Plant with other companion plants to create wonderful flower arrangements in the garden.

The size and the color of the ‘Early Blue’ hydrangea make it a dream to add into your garden. This variety will grow nicely on its own, however, there are endless possibilities of companion plants for this variety of hydrangea.

If you plan on planting in a container, try pairing it with trailing verbena or creeping jenny. In the perennial garden, ‘Early Blue’ is lovely planted in a mass. But if you are looking to create a garden around it try adding hosta, lambs ear, or coral bells.

This Variety Loves Containers

A small selection of plants in black colored pots. They are shrubs with blue flowers and are newer plants waiting to be purchased at a garden center.
This variety is an excellent container plant.

The size of ‘Early Blue’ makes it a perfect container hydrangea. You can plant this variety on its own for a very pretty statement. Perhaps a container on either side of a front door, or a walkway. It also would be perfect in a mixed container with some trailing annuals.

However you decide to plant in your containers it is important to remember that containers dry out much faster than garden beds. Be sure to check the soil every day or two to prevent drought stress.

Final Thoughts

Hydrangeas can be the star of every garden because of the differences that each species offers. The flower colors range from white to red, and there are species that love the shade and others that love the sun. That can’t be said for many flowering shrubs.

If you are looking for a new blue hydrangea variety to try in your garden, I urge you to look for ‘Early Blue’ at your garden center. Try adding them into your containers, or shady perennial gardens. No matter where you plant this hydrangea, you’ll be able to enjoy their beautiful flowers all season long.

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