Garden Clippings for July 25, 2020
It is mid-summer and Hydrangeas are in their full glory. There is no summer flowering shrub that puts on a better show than Hydrangeas. They begin blooming in late June and will give colour all summer long, sometimes lasting into fall.
There are 5 or 6 classes of Hydrangea, each with their own unique qualities. I am a self-professed Hydrangea nut, but I admit that I, too, am often confused as to which Hydrangea falls in which category.
The easiest is climbing Hydrangea, a good performer that leans against a shady fence or wall with white flowers and lush green foliage. Also easy to decipher is Oak Leaf Hydrangea that is admired for its unique leaves that turn bronze in fall.
Big Leaf or French Hydrangea (H. macrophylla) are the most common Hydrangeas and are divided into three sub-categories: Mophead with purple, blue and pink blooms, Lacecap with flowers that are both complete and incomplete, and Mountain, with smaller flowers on incredibly hardy plants.
The popular Endless Summer Hydrangea, a Mophead variety, is a proven performer, producing blooms from early to late summer.
Panicle Hydrangeas have large cone shaped flower heads that often change colour. Panicle or PG Hydrangeas are the only Hydrangeas that will form trees with a single main stem. ‘Limelight’ with its pure white blooms and ‘Pinky Winkie’ with red to white blooms are popular Panicle Hydrangeas. ‘Bobo’ is a compact variety with white blooms growing to only 2 feet.
Smooth Hydrangeas are known for their large pure white flowers, reminding us of the Hydrangeas that were growing in Grandma’s garden of several decades ago.
Hydrangeas are versatile shrubs that will grow anywhere in the garden. They are happiest when grown in partially shaded locations. The East side of the house is superb, where they get morning sun and are shaded from the hot afternoon sun. The north side of the house is also fine. Hydrangeas will grow in deep shade but will likely produce less flower.
Success with Hydrangeas also depends on good soil. When planting a new container grown Hydrangea, I suggest digging a hole about twice the width of the pot, and backfilling with a nutrient rich soil made up of a mix of manure, triple mix and topsoil.
Hydrangeas do not like dry soil and will enjoy a weekly drink during hot summer dry spells. A layer of shredded mulch on the soil surface will help retain soil moisture and will also give weed control.
Pruning hydrangeas is tricky business because each class has different pruning needs. Your best bet is to look up the specific pruning instructions for your plant. Most Hydrangeas do not need major pruning but will benefit from the removal of oldest limbs in spring.
Hydrangeas are rarely bothered by pests and diseases. Adding fertilizer once a year will guarantee powerful flowers. Use compost or granular fertilizer applied at half the recommended rate.