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Pinky Winky Hydrangea Care Guide

Pinky Winky hydrangeas are known for their stunningly large blooms that gather in clusters called panicles, making them a standout member of the panicle hydrangea family. These flowers begin their display in a crisp white before gradually turning to a lovely shade of pink.

These hydrangeas thrive in full sunlight, making them incredibly adaptable to various garden spots. Plus, their robust, thick stems ensure the flowers stand tall and proud. Today, I’ll guide you through caring for Pinky Winky hydrangeas to ensure they flourish beautifully.

pinky winky hydrangea care

Pinky Winky Hydrangea

Plant profile

Care/requirements Pinky Winky Hydrangea
Hardiness: USDA zone 3-8
Size: Height 8 ft. and width 10 ft.
Shape: Rounded with upright stems.
Type: Perennial, deciduous, shrub.
Light requirements: Full sun or at least 4-6 hours of direct sun per day.
Soil: Loam or amended soil.
Soil pH: 6.2-7.0 Grow best in slightly acidic soil.
Watering: When 1 inch of soil is dry. Don’t water in the winter.
Growth rate: Fast
Blooming: New wood.
Flowers color: White-red.
Leaves color: Bright green.
Fragrance: Low scent.
Best time for planting: Early spring and early fall.
Pruning: Deadheading after flowering and removing deadwood.
Reblooming: No
Spacing: 4 feet apart (center to center).
Transplanting: Early fall or early spring.
Fertilizer: Balanced NPK formula, twice per year.
Propagation: By cuttings in early spring.
Deer resistant: No
Problems: Pests, diseases.

Planting

Pinky Winky hydrangeas need their space, stretching out to about 6 feet tall. So, it’s smart to avoid putting them under trees with branches that hang low. You’ll also want to keep them 4 feet apart from each other, measuring from the center of each plant.

They love soaking up the sun but don’t mind a bit of shade, though they might grow a bit slower in it. And the best time to get them in the ground Early spring. That’s when the weather’s nice and gentle, helping them settle in without too much stress from transplant shock.

Read also: How To Grow Hydrangeas

Light Requirements

Pinky Winky hydrangeas thrive in full sunlight. Yet, in really hot areas, the midday sun can get a bit too strong. If they’re in pots, you might want to shift them out of the sun’s peak heat around noon.

They’re pretty tough, though, as long as their soil stays moist. While they can manage in some shade, they don’t do well in complete shade.

Soil

Pinky Winky hydrangeas prefer soil that drains well. Thick, clayey soils, often orange or light grey, aren’t their favorite. The same goes for very sandy soil that doesn’t hold onto water.

If your garden soil is dark, rich, and drains well, you can plant them straight into it. But if your soil leans towards the clayey side, it’s a good idea to mix up a special soil blend. Before you plant, fill the hole with this mix and also surround the root ball with it once it’s in the ground.

A perfect mix would be half the soil you dug out and half compost. Aim for a soil pH between 6 and 6.5, ideally not exceeding 7. You can easily test and adjust the pH with supplies from a garden store or online.

pinky winky hydrangea care

Pinky Winky Hydrangea

Watering

Water your Pinky Winky hydrangeas when the soil around their roots feels dry about 1-2 inches down. Roughly 1 gallon (4.5 liters) of water per session should do the trick. In the summer’s peak heat, feel free to increase that amount to about 1.5 gallons.

Adding mulch around the base of your Pinky Winky hydrangeas is a smart move, too. It helps the soil retain moisture longer, preventing it from drying out too quickly.

Pruning

Pruning your Pinky Winky hydrangeas is mainly about keeping them from getting too tall, as they tend to grow more upwards than outwards. It’s often done to make your garden look nicer by playing with different plant heights for a lovely visual effect.

Early spring is the perfect time for pruning. It’s pretty straightforward: just decide how much you want to trim and cut right above the nodes on the stems. These nodes are where the new growth will sprout in spring.

One great thing about Pinky Winky hydrangeas is they bloom on both new and old growth. So, you don’t have to worry about them not flowering after a trim.

Problems

Often, the reason your flowers aren’t blooming or the blooms are smaller than last year can be due to a sudden cold spell in spring or summer, right when the buds are getting ready. If there’s been a cold snap, it might mean your Pinky Winky hydrangeas weren’t used to your local weather before you planted them. Many nursery plants are kept in warm greenhouses, getting used to those temperatures.

So, when you bring them home and plant them outside, the change in temperature can shock them. This shock might delay their blooming until they adjust to the new conditions, meaning you might not see flowers until the next spring or summer.

Pinky Winky Hydrangea

Pests and Diseases

Yellow spots and dead leaves on your hydrangeas can be a sign of pests like mealybugs, aphids, and scale, or even diseases like mold. A good way to tackle these issues is by spraying the stems and leaves with neem oil.

Spraying is best done after the sun has set. Doing this during daylight can lead to the sun’s rays magnifying through the water droplets and burning the leaves. You can trim the affected leaves to a certain extent.

However, be careful not to strip your hydrangeas of all their leaves during spring and summer, as this can stress them out. It’s wise to remove the most damaged leaves while keeping as many healthy ones as possible to support the plant’s overall health.

Fertilizer

An all-purpose fertilizer works well for hydrangeas, but it’s wise to stick to the instructions given by the manufacturer on the packaging.

Another great tip is to grab a soil testing kit from your local garden supply shop or, if you’re in the USA, from the County Extension Office. These kits can help you figure out if your soil lacks any nutrients and what you can add to perfect it.

It’s generally best to fertilize Pinky Winky hydrangeas in the spring and then a few more times throughout the summer, keeping in mind the recommendations from the fertilizer’s manufacturer.

Most gardeners recommend using less fertilizer rather than more. Over-fertilizing can harm the delicate root hairs, making the plant absorb fewer nutrients, which might lead to yellow spots on the leaves.

Janet

Sunday 25th of February 2024

My 8-year-old Littleton, Colorado Pinky Winkies are on the north side of the house and don't get much sun until mid-May. They have been strong bloomers in most years but I noticed last year that they are thinning near the middle. Their leaves have been damaged by wild hail storms several times in recent summers which seemed to discourage their blooms from maturing. Last year the blooms were sparse and the plants thinned in the middle.

What is the best approach to pruning to encourage them to thicken?

Should I consider transplanting them to a more sunny location - we are at about 5900 fee of elevation here and the southern exposure sun can be brutal on fleshy-leaved plants.

What else can I do to help them thrive?

Igor Viznyy

Sunday 25th of February 2024

Hi Janet! It sounds like you're facing a bit of a challenge with your Pinky Winky hydrangeas, but don't worry, there are definitely steps you can take to help them thrive again. Let's tackle your questions one by one.

Pruning to Encourage Thickness

For hydrangeas like Pinky Winkies, which bloom on new wood, the best time to prune them is late winter or early spring, before new growth starts. This timing helps because:

Removes Old Wood: By cutting back the older stems, you encourage the plant to produce new, vigorous growth from the base, which can help fill in those thinner areas in the middle. Promotes Healthy Growth: Pruning out any damaged or weak stems helps the plant focus its energy on producing strong, healthy growth and more blooms.

When pruning, aim to remove about a third of the oldest stems, cutting them back to the base to encourage fresh, new growth. You can also trim the remaining stems to shape the plant, which can help it look fuller.

Transplanting for Better Sunlight

Hydrangeas generally prefer morning sun with afternoon shade, especially in areas with strong sun exposure like you have in Littleton, Colorado. Since Pinky Winkies are somewhat sun-tolerant, a bit more sunlight might help, but you're right to be cautious about the intense southern exposure.

If you decide to move them, the best time is either early spring before they break dormancy or in the fall after they've gone dormant. Make sure to prepare the new location with plenty of organic matter to help them adjust and keep them well-watered as they establish.

Additional Care Tips

Here are a few more tips to help your hydrangeas thrive:

Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of your plants. This helps retain moisture, keep the roots cool, and adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. Watering: Hydrangeas need plenty of water, especially as they're getting established in a new spot or during hot, dry periods. Aim for deep, infrequent watering to encourage deep root growth. Fertilizing: Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring to encourage growth and blooming. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to lush foliage at the expense of blooms. Protection from Elements: Consider using burlap screens or similar protection to shield your plants from hail, especially if you know a storm is coming.

Deb Shores

Monday 18th of September 2023

My pinky winky has loads of blossoms but they don’t fully open. Only about 1/4 th of them open. Why is this? Happens every year. My tree is 4 years old. Thank you in advance for any guidance you can give.

Igor Viznyy

Thursday 28th of September 2023

Hey, Deb Shores. The reason why your Pinky Winky Hydrangea is not fully opening its flowers may be because it is too young. It still needs to gain strength and develop a large root system.

Take care of it as I recommend and in a few years it will bloom to its full potential.