Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hydrangeas by Colette Whiting

There are several different types of Hydrangea, some are better suited to the Shelburne area than others. The two most common Hydrangeas grown here are Hydrangea Paniculata and Hydrangea Aborescens 'Annabelle'.

Hydrangea Paniculata 'Grandiflora'
Hydrangea Paniculata 'Grandiflora' sometimes abbreviated 'PG' is the largest and is sometimes trained/pruned into a small tree form 8-10 feet in height. It blooms on 'new wood'-this year's growth-so is unaffected by extreme cold in the winter and can be pruned for shape or size in the spring. It gets its name from the shape of the blooms, they are panicle or cone-shaped. It blooms mid to late summer with blooms changing from creamy white to pink to beige in the late fall. A newer cultivar named 'Pink Diamond' is somewhat smaller in stature but still will achieve 6 feet in height. It has larger panicles-up to a foot in length-that turn a beautiful shade of deep pink as the temperatures cool in September. I have this one growing on the east side of my office building and last year many people stopped to inquire about it-with all the rain last year they were spectacular. Another new and popular cultivar is 'Limelight'. It has a similar growth habit to 'Pink Diamond' but the blooms are packed a little fuller and start out a greenish white before turning to a soft pink. All Hydrangea Paniculata enjoy some sun but will grow in part sun very well. They need moist but well drained soil.

Hyrdrangea Aborescens 'Annabelle'
Hyrdrangea Aborescens 'Annabelle' is an old favourite that grows extremely well here. It is very cold hardy and also blooms on 'new wood'. It can be hard pruned to 12-24 inches in the spring. Mid to late summer bring huge rounded blooms up to 10 inches across that start our light green and age to cream and then beige in the fall. 'Annabelle' can cope with considerable shade-but morning sun is best- and enjoys moist soil. One problem with 'Annabelle' is the tendency of the large blooms to flop after a heavy rain. Subtle support can help to minimize this problem. A new cultivar called 'Incrediball' claims to have much sturdier stems to support the 12 inch diameter blooms. I have no personal experience with this one. Also very new is 'Invincibelle Spirit', the first pink blooming aborescens cultivar.

Hyrdangea Quercifolia

Less commonly seen and marginally hardy here is the Hyrdangea Quercifolia or Oakleaf Hydrangea. I gets it name from the shape of its leaves. It blooms on 'old wood' and therefore may fail to bloom after a particularly cold winter, such as we often experience. But a local gardener tells me “ They flower occasionally, but the flowers are the least significant part of their performance. Their foliage looks good throughout the summer, but their glory really comes in the fall when they turn a wonderful mixture of orange and maroon, blazing red and yellow. Other than hardiness, they seem to be without problems.” Oakleaf Hydrangea can grow quite larger-8 ft x 8ft. But newer dwarf cultivars such as 'Pee Wee' are being introduced for those of us with smaller gardens.

Hydrangea Macrophylla
Hydrangea Macrophylla is the least commonly grown and least hardy hydrangea for our area. It blooms on 'old wood' and unless protected will often fail to bloom here. Newer cultivars that also rebloom on new wood hold hope for those of us who would love to grow the lovely 'mophead' blooms in blue or pink.

One final note, all hydrangea blooms dry well for use in arrangements or wreaths.

Written by Colette Whiting a Shelburne & District Horticultural member


Anonymous said...

Lots of interesting information.

Post a Comment