Hydrangeas: Selection, Planting & Care

Hydrangeas: Selection, Planting & Care

Whether it's color, easy care or year-round interest that your garden needs--hydrangeas are the answer.

 Mix them with perennials to extend the color, increase texture and add year-round interest to the garden. Use tree forms as focal points and accent plants, taller shrub forms as a screen or hedge and cultivars with colorful flowers, bark or fall color to help create interest in any corner of your landscape. Here are a few traditional and new favorites to consider:

 

Smooth, Hills of Snow, Snowball (Annabelle type) Hydrangeas
Hydrangea arborescens

 Shade garden, mixed border, dried flowers

  • Grows 3 to 5’ tall and wider
  • Prefers Partial shade, full sun if soil is kept moist
  • Moist, Well-drained soil preferred
  • Fertilize with low nitrogen/ organic fertilizer early spring to improve flowering
  • Soil pH (acidity) does not influence flower color
  • Blooms on new growth – prune during dormant season
  • Varieties
    • Annabelle – large white flowers, 4’ tall x 5’ wide, tolerates full shade
    • Invincibelle Spirit – Large pink flowers, no matter the pH
    • Incrediball – Large round white flowers. 5’ tall and wide
  • Pruning Tips
    • Prune late winter after the worst of winter has passed /early spring before growth begins (You’ll enjoy the winter interest & increased hardiness
      • OR prune in fall for a neater appearance over winter
    • Prune all stems back to 12 to 15” above the ground, then prune half of these back to ground level for less floppy growth
      • OR all stems back to several inches above the ground – results in floppier growth

 

Panicle Hydrangea
Hydrangea paniculata

  • Screen, hedge, specimen, mixed border
  • Dwarf varieties 3 to 6’ tall & wide, Large varieties up 10’+ tall & wide
  • Performs best in full sun will tolerate partial shade
  • Moist, Well-drained soil preferred
  • Soil pH (acidity) does not influence flower color
  • Blooms on new growth – prune during dormant season if needed
  • Varieties
    • Bobo  - 30 to 36" tall x 3 to 4’ wide, compact mounded plant with lots of long lasting large white flowers that eventually fade to a purplish pink (available in 2016)
    • Limelight – 6 to 10’ x 5 to 6’ wide, lime green flowers fading to rose
    • Little Lime – 3 to 5’ tall and wide. Lime green flowers fading to rose
    • Pinkie Winky –6 to 8’ x 5 to 6’ wide, large, white & pink flowers fade to dk pink
    • Quickfire – 6 to 8’ tall and wide – earlier bloom, white to pink to rosy red
    • Tardiva – 8 to 12’ x 5 to 7’ wide – late bloom, lacy white flowers fades to purplish- pink
    • Vanilla Strawberry- 6 to 8’ x 4 to 5’ wide – large white flowers fade to pink and then a strawberry red
  • Pruning Tips
    • Minimal Pruning Needed
      • Thinning plants to 5 to 10 primary shoots will encourage larger flowers
      • Pruning to ground level will result in weak floppy growth. Prune in late winter after the worst of winter has passed /early spring before growth begins

 

Bigleaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla

  • Shrub or mixed border
  • Grows 3 to 6’ tall & wide
  • Grow in full sun with moist soil, afternoon shade
  • Moist, Well-drained soil preferred
  • Soil pH (acidity) influences flower color
    • Blue flowers in acidic soil
      • Aluminum sulfate (per label directions spring through July)
    • Pink flowers in alkaline soil
  • Blooms on old growth – Those at Pasquesi bloom on old and new growth
    • Improve Flowering on Endless Summer & Twist and Shout
      • Moist, not wet soil spring through summer
      • One application of Milorganite fertilizer in spring. It contains plant available – non leaching phosphorous (P). Plus as the microorganisms release the nutrients from Milorganite they also release some of the P bound to our soil – P promotes flowering
  • Varieties
    • Endless Summer – 3 to 4’ tall & wide, spherical blooms on old and new wood
    • Twist and Shout – 3 to 4’ tall & wide, lace cap flowers on old and new wood
  • Pruning
    • Allow plants to stand for winter
    • Remove winter-killed stems (this may be all of them to the ground)
    • No further pruning is usually needed in our area

 

Oakleaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia

  • Shade garden, four season interest, hedge, mixed border
    • Deep green oak shaped leaves
    • Bronze, maroon and purple fall color
    • Cinnamon colored exfoliating bark
  • Grows up to 8 feet tall and wide
  • Grow in partial shade or sun
  • Moist, Well-drained soil preferred
  • Blooms on old wood
  • Varieties
    • Alice – 5 to 8’ tall & wide, large 10-14” white flowers fading to pink then brown Bronze, maroon, purple fall color & orange exfoliating bark
    • Pee Wee – 3 to 4’ x 2.5 to 3’ wide, compact, less suckering, flowers white, fade to pink, then brown - Bronze, maroon, purple fall color & orange exfoliating bark
  • Pruning – Minimal
    • Remove deadwood
    • Prune after flowering if need/want to control the size

 

Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s gardening tips with you!