There are so many questions people have regarding Hydrangea. It’s understandable, there are multiple varieties and each has different uses and ideal conditions.
White Hydrangeas are the hardiest garden plants and reliably perform in our area. There are several different types of white Hydrangea.
The white mop-heads are Hydrangea Arborecesens. You may know them as Annabelle or Incrediball. They are very hardy and provide massive flowers in late June through July. Some varieties like Invincible Spirit are pink colored. This species is native to the eastern United States and are very dependable performers with very little need for attention. They will take sun or part shade and give reliable blooms every year.
Some other white types are the taller PGs. PGs typically bloom in late summer into early fall and have upright cone shaped flowers. These include a wide assortment of different varieties such as Unique, with its lacey upright blooms, Limelight with its massive long-lasting flowers, also Pinky Winky that turns a nice pink shade as the blooms mature, and Quick Fire with its early blooms. These are the toughest of all the Hydrangeas. They can take full sun, and somewhat dry conditions. The flowers are very reliable, and the plant is generally deer resistant.
Another native is Hydrangea Quercifolia, Oakleaf Hydrangea. These are mid-summer bloomers with upright cone shapes and can also really put on a show in the fall with fantastic scarlet foliage. The Oakleaf will tolerate a fair amount of sun and grow to about 4-5’ depending on the variety.
The last of the whites is the fantastic June blooming Climbing Hydrangea. This vine performs very well in our climate particularly on north facing exposures. The lace cap type flowers only last a couple weeks, somewhat shorter than other types but it’s still very worthwhile and will give you many years of carefree enjoyment.
Hydrangea Macrophylla are the more colorful cousins in this family. They are a bit more particular on the correct growing environment, but when they are planted in the right place they are well worth it. In years past you would only find really nice examples in coastal areas like Cape Cod or our own local shore line. This is because they tend to actively grow late into the fall and start early again in the spring. This tendency leaves them susceptible to having the flower buds damaged by cold. The moderating effect of shoreline conditions allows them to bloom reliably. Over the last couple decades breeding and selection breakthroughs have created new varieties that not only bloom on buds formed the prior year (which are susceptible to frost and cold over the winter) but also bloom on new growth like the PGs. With this breakthrough, not only will you typically get a great show in June and July, but you can expect blooms throughout the season, sometimes right up until frost! One of the tricks for getting the best color on these types is to pick the right variety for the color you want. Endless Summer or Penny Mac, for blue, Bloomstruck for purple/blues and many others including bi-colors like Edgy Hearts. The other trick is to know your soil pH. Use the right soil amendments like Aluminum Sulfate or acidifying fertilizer like Holly Tone for rich blues or raise the pH with lime for better pinks. Within this same group are also the Lace-cap types. They have flat topped flowers with intensely colored centers and add another look to your garden altogether. Macrophyllas in general are a bit fussier about their location and like some protection from strong mid and late day sun. Make sure they have plenty of water!
This is a lot of information, so if you want help choosing what’s best for your yard please stop in and speak to one of our horticulturalists to find the right choice for you!
Burnett’s Country Gardens, Route 85, Salem, CT