Late summer-blooming hydrangea shrubs have arrived with their fresh and extravagant blooms. The woody-stemmed hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) mature into large shrubs that thrive and prosper in full and part sun. When planting, make sure to allow extra space for these larger shrubs to mature. Remember to water deeply to establish a good root system before the winter. In addition, mulch these hardy shrubs to keep them blooming from summer through fall. For part shade bloomers, try Nantucket Blue™ hydrangeas which are classified as Big Leaf hydrangeas or the classic 'Annabelle' hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens), known as Smooth hydrangeas.
1. 'Phantom' Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom'): This 'easy-to-grow' variety is incredible with its thick, conical blooms that reach up to fifteen inches. The colors are creamy-white in the summer, and as fall nears, they turn a pale and then darker pink. The plant has a spreading habit that matures from 6 to 10 feet tall and wide.
2. Nantucket Blue™ Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'GRENAN'): Although this one is a 'big leaf' hydrangea (H. macrophylla), not a 'paniculata', it blooms repeatedly from early summer well into early fall. The leathery green foliage provides contrast for an abundant summertime display of blue (or pink) flower clusters that last until frost. The 'Nantucket Blue' thrives in morning sun and afternoon shade or in a dappled sunlight beneath large trees. Plant on the east or north side of your home for best results.
3. 'Limelight' Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'): This is a large hydrangea known for its chartreuse flowers that emerge in mid-summer. Blooms change to a blushed pink as autumn closes in and temperatures become cooler. The color of the blooms are not affected by the pH of the soil like the Big Leaf Hydrangeas (H.macrophylla). This plant thrives in full sun or part sun but blooms more with more sun. It matures from 6 to 8 feet tall and wide and can be pruned into a small tree or standard. It is more tolerant of urban conditions and more drought tolerant than most hydrangeas.
4. 'Annabelle' Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'): This classic, Smooth leaf hydrangea is known for its white, snowball-shaped flowers and heavy blooming. The flowers begin blooming with a green color, turn to white and then later in summer, turn back to green. The shrub has a rounded, mounded shape that thrives in partial shade and evenly moist, but well-drained soil. It can tolerate full sun, if moisture is available. The stems can be cut back in fall or left to stand with their dry, tan flower heads. They bloom every year, even after severe pruning.