Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > April 2015 > GARDEN TALK with DOUG - UNDERSTANDING THE HYDRANGEA FAMILY


It is no wonder that I get so many customer questions concerning hydrangeas.  Each year there are more new varieties being introduced into the market.  Now that it is late April and we are in the height of the spring planting season, now is the time to understand the family of hydrangeas.
                The most confusion aspect of hydrangeas is understanding what type of hydrangea you are selecting.  There are five different types of hydrangeas.  Even though there are five different type of hydrangea, each of these falls into one of two pruning groups, based mostly on whether they bloom on wood produced in the current year  (A)  or wood produced in the previous year  (B) .    Here are the five plant groups:
  1. Climbing hydrangea  (A)
  2. Smooth hydrangea (arborescens)  -  ‘Annabelle’, ‘Bella Anna’, ‘White Dome’  (A)
3.Bigleaf hydrangea (macrophylla) – ‘Nikko Blue’, Pretty in Pink’, ‘Pia’, ‘Endless Summer’ (remontant), ‘Twist-n-Shout’ (remontant)  (B)
  1. Panicle hydrangea (paniculata) – ‘Limelight’, ‘Little Lamb’, ‘Tardiva’, ‘PeeGee’  (A)
  2. Oakleaf hydrangea (quecifolia) – ‘Alice’, ‘Snow Queen’, ‘Snowflake’  (B)
Group A  -  With these hydrangeas the flower buds are formed on the new growth that sprouts in the spring.  The proper time for pruning this group is during the winter months.
Group B  -  With these hydrangeas the flower buds are formed in mid-summer.  Prune only if needed.  The time to prune is when it finishes blooming.  To be safe, DO NOT PRUNE AFTER JULY.   Now, ‘Endless Summer’ and ‘Twist-n-Shout’ are remontants meaning that they bloom off of new and old wood.  So, in order to not to interfere with their continuous bloom cycle I suggest not to do any pruning on the remontants.  Our past couple of winters have been tough on our Bigleaf hydrangeas.  The winter has killed the plants back beyond the wood that produces the flower buds. This is why so many of our hydrangeas have not bloomed but only produced the green leaves.
So, when you make your hydrangea selection, be sure to save the label!  That way, when it comes time to prune, you can do it correctly without sacrificing the beautiful blooms.
Bottom line is that hydrangeas are woodland plants, traditionally known as shade garden plants.  They prefer to be in consistently moist, well-drained, humus rich soil.  Be careful, too much shade can result in reduced bloom production.  Ideally they should be situated in areas of light shade to partial shade.
Posted: 4/24/2015 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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