There are lots of reasons why hydrangeas are a good choice for your landscape. The most obvious reason is that hydrangeas provide long lasting bloom in your garden, starting in July and continuing through till frost. In fact, you can leave the flower clusters on the plant to provide texture and colour in the winter garden. The flowers remain crisp and upright all winter and look quite nice when topped with new snow fall.
These flowers can be pruned off in the spring. Smooth hydrangeas, Hydrangea arborescens) which includes cultivars such as “Annabelle” and the “Incrediball” series, bloom on new wood and can be pruned right to the ground in spring. However, cutting back the entire shrub every spring is probably not the best practice as the plant may show signs of burnout after three years. A more balanced approach is better. Think about taking out a fifth to a third of the oldest stems to the ground each year.
Panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata) including “Little Lamb”, “Limelight”, and “Fire Light” bloom on old wood. On these you want to remove only last season’s flowers and any stems that have winterkilled.
Recently, Fine Gardening Magazine, (August 2023) published an article reporting the results of trials looking at whether mophead or lacecap hydrangeas attracted the most pollinators. The tiny fertile flowers of the lacecap hydrangea proved to attract more pollinators than the more showy, eye catching mopheads. If you are interested in attracting pollinators, this is something to keep in mind when you are choosing what to plant.
There are so many hydrangea to choose from. You can choose a big bold plant such as “Annabelle” (Hydranngea aboresens) which grows 5 feet high and 6 feet across, in full sun or partial shade. It is great choice if you want to hide something or as a backdrop to a garden. The huge mophead flowers are stunning but remember they are not the best choice for attracting pollinators.
“Pinky Winky” (Hydrangea paniculata) is another large plant, growing 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide, requiring sun or part shade. This is a stunner and works well in a hedge or as a specimen.
“Tiny Tuff Stuff” (Hydrangea serrata) , Mountain Hydrangea, is great little plant, growing 2 feet tall by 2 feet wide, in sun or shade. It is a lace cap hydrangea, soft mauve in colour and is constantly full of pollinators while in bloom. It makes a great foundation plant.
Check out your local nursery to see what they have, consider whether you are planting in sun or shade and the size you need for the space you have. Also, consider the pollinators! I feel confident you will not be disappointed.
authored by Carol Anderson