Hydrangeas have become a key summertime show-off in front and backyards across the country. It used to be that the beautiful blue-and pink-blooming hydrangeas would bloom once a year for a few weeks in June.
But plant breeders have developed new varieties that perform with longer bloom times and re-bloom through much of the season. The most foolproof hydrangeas are those that bloom on new wood, or old and new wood both. That way if there is a frost and the old wood is damaged, you will still be sure to have flowers in summer.
Newer varieties such as Endless Summer offer big, colorful blooms every few weeks in summer and into fall. Many offer beautiful fall color and their spent blossoms continue to be attractive in the winter landscape or can be cut and dried for indoor arrangements.
For these reasons the hydrangea is a versatile and beautiful landscape choice.
Here Are Five Of My Favorite Hydrangeas:
Forever and Ever Hydrangea
The magnificent flowers of this hydrangea will bloom from mid-summer to mid to late fall. The blue color may fade to a blue-pink range of colors late in the year. Forever and Ever Hydrangeas get to be about 3 to 4 feet tall and wide and will do best in morning sun, afternoon shade.
Endless Summer Hydrangea
This is another great and long-blooming hydrangea, very similar to Forever and Ever. They flower early to midsummer until frost. They also get to be about 3 to 4 feet tall and wide and do best in partial sun. As with most Hydrangea, you can get them to bloom pink or blue by altering the acidity of the soil.
Limelights will provide really great color in early summer, through summer, and fall up to frost. They can rise 6 to 10 feet high and up to 6 feet wide. For this reason I have often used them as a privacy shrub when it is desirable to screen a view, but not necessary to block it in winter. The flowers of this plant start off as white with a hint of green. As time goes on they turn all white and then at the end of the summer they turn a beautiful coppery pink. If you need some plants taller than Endless Summer or Forever and Ever Hydrangea, this is a great choice.
This is the traditional flower, the “snowball bush” we grew up with, but with an upgrade. The newer varieties have huge white flowers bloom on new wood and provide a very pretty show for a good part of the season, from early to midsummer to frost. You can expect each plant to grow 3-5 feet high and wide. One of the advantages of this Hydrangea is that it will take more sun than the others. If you have a deer problem, these are not the plant to select.
Climbing Hydrangea is one of the best of the ornamental vines. It will flower even in shade gardens and creates a beautiful vine on an arbor, pergola, fence, stone wall, or the trunk of a large shade tree. Foliage is almost heart shaped. Leaves drop in winter exposing an attractive reddish brown exfoliating bark for winter interest. In early summer, they produce fragrant, lacy, flat-topped, white flower heads. These “lace caps” can be 5 inches or more in width and are composed of showy flowers on the outside and less-than-showy flowers on the inside. This remarkable vine may take 3-5 years to start blooming, but patience will be rewarded. They sometimes reach 50 feet tall.
Hydrangeas are a low maintenance, versatile, beautiful addition to any landscape design. These are just five of my favorites. I haven’t even mentioned oakleaf, or some of the dwarf and tree-form varieties; I could easily add another 10 to the list.
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