Written on June 2, 2010 at 7:17 am , by Justin W. Hancock
Hydrangeas are some of the most popular garden plants around — and for good reason. Most have gorgeous blooms and there’s a wealth of varieties, so you can find one for sun or shade, even in the North!
One of the most intriguing varieties is a golden-leafed oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’).
This little beauty has a lot going for it:
- The bright chartreuse foliage looks awesome all spring and summer.
- The leaves have incredible rosy-red fall color.
- It blooms with white flower clusters for weeks in summer.
- It’s a named selection of a North American native plant.
- It has a dwarf habit (for oakleaf hydrangeas), growing only 4 feet tall and wide.
- It loves a shaded or partially shaded spot.
This is a young specimen in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. It’s just the second year it’s in the ground so it still looks a bit runty, but the golden foliage really lights up the corner it’s tucked into!
Written on March 17, 2010 at 7:17 am , by Justin W. Hancock
It looks like hydrangeas are going to be hot again this year! I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from readers about hydrangeas, we’ve been getting lots of questions about them in our Garden Doctor application, and we even have a brand-new downloadable booklet online on growing and caring for the plants.
If you have hydrangeas, here’s some information that’s handy to have now:
- If you buy a florist hydrangea and would like to plant it outdoors, harden it off first by leaving it in a shady spot for a couple of hours a day. Then a few days later, leave it out for a few more hours. A few days after that, the plant will have toughened up and shouldn’t be too badly shocked when you plant it outside.
- If you have the blue- or pink-flowering mophead or lacecap hydrangeas, don’t prune them now. They’ve already made this year’s flowers, so cutting them back could mean sacrificing the 2010 floral display. (The exception to this is reblooming hydrangeas like Endless Summer; they made some of their flowers last year, but will also make a lot more flowers on new stems this year.)
- If you’re thinking about purchasing a hydrangea, be sure you select the right type for your conditions. The easiest way to have a terrible hydrangea experience is to pick the wrong variety for your spot.
Looking for more info? Check out our Plant Encyclopedia, hydrangea slideshow, and be sure to check out the new issue of Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living magazine, where my colleague Luke Miller produced a fun piece on hydrangeas that highlights some of the amazing variety this group of plants offers.
Written on February 17, 2010 at 6:54 am , by Justin W. Hancock
If you’re a cold-climate gardener like I am, you’ve probably thought about how this (seemingly never-ending) winter will affect your hydrangeas.
The good news is that all the snow cover is a great insulator, and if we keep a heavy coating of snow while temperatures remain cool, and there are no late-spring frosts, you may see an amazing display from your plants. This is because the snow is protecting last year’s flower buds from the worst of the cold temperatures.
The bad news, like I mentioned last week, is that the snow has robbed deer, rabbits, and other critters of many of their usual winter foods, so they may be eating away at your plants.
If you live in a more mild climate and your winter has been unseasonably cold, you may not see your usual display if the chilly temperatures damaged the flower buds.
That is, of course, unless you grow reblooming varieties such as Endless Summer, Penny Mac, or the Let’s Dance series from Proven Winners — these varieties are famous for being able to make new flower buds for summertime blooms.
Or have summer-blooming types such as ‘Annabelle’, ‘Limelight’, etc., they may not be affected by the cold because they don’t start producing their flower buds until spring anyway.
Written on November 25, 2009 at 7:44 am , by Justin W. Hancock
What’s America’s favorite flower? Based on the amount of mail we get about them, I’d guess it’s hydrangeas. It’s not hard to see why, with their beautiful blooms. Add on the fact that hydrangeas are relatively deer resistant (I know there are lots of you out there who may disagree, but many gardeners do grow these shrubs without fear of seeing them mowed down by Bambi) and it’s like a match made in heaven.
If, that is, you choose the right varieties for you. There are several different kinds, and unfortunately none of them are one-size-fits-all plants. Here’s a quick cheat sheet on hydrangea types:
If you have sun, choose varieties of Hydrangea paniculata. They’re also a good bet if you live in a cold climate (Zones 3 or 4). Most are white, but some newer varieties like Quick Fire and Vanilla Strawberry have a red or pink blush.
If you want cut flowers, choose reblooming varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla. They’ll start producing flowers in June and usually continue through fall. Endless Summer is the classic type, but there are others such as the Let’s Dance series or Mini Penny if you look hard enough.
If you want a no-brainer, go with oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). This is the more carefree hydrangea I’ve ever grown, and it puts on the best fall show of any of my hydrangeas, too.
Interest piqued? Learn about other great types and varieties here!
By the way: What’s your favorite hydrangea? Share by commenting below!