Foundation plants, container garden selections, mixed-border accents or stars in their own right: Hydrangeas are among those shrubs that are must-haves for any landscape.
What’s that saying? “These are not your grandmother’s hydrangeas,” right? Well, there’s nothing wrong with Grandma’s plants. But one look at these selections would have her digging up the planting bed and making room for more. What’s even better, these are the kinds of plants that will capture the imagination of younger gardeners—yes, they do exist—who are looking for fun, for portability, for a new twist on the tried-and-true. Innovations in breeding have brought so many new selections to the market that it’s mind-boggling, and it’d be impossible to cover them all. So on these pages we’ll simply whet your appetite for these new(er) takes on a bread-and-butter plant.
Endless Summer BloomStruck™ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘PIIHM-II’)
A Plant Introductions Inc. selection, BloomStruck joins the Endless Summer collection to boast large, 3.5- to 5-inchwide blooms from late spring through fall. Flowers range from pink to pistachio to blue to “blurple” depending on soil acidity, of course, and each is held atop a strong, striking red stem. Red petioles and red veins highlight rich, dark green foliage. Featuring a slightly mounded habit, the shrub grows 3 to 4 feet tall with a spread of 4 to 5 feet.
BloomStruck is happiest in partial shade and is hardy in zones 4 to 9, where it has shown reliable heat and cold tolerance, as well as resistance to disease — especially powdery mildew.
Jetstream™ (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘PIIHQ-I’)
Jetstream is a member of the First Editions series developed by Plant Introductions Inc., and this is a shrub with true multiseason interest. Growing 5 to 6 feet tall with a spread of 4 to 5 feet, its dense, compact habit supports large flowers that, remarkably, do not flop. Flowers emerge white and age to pink, finishing a dark pink. Sturdy, leaf-spot resistant foliage is dark green throughout spring and summer, but come fall, it turns an elegant and rich, deep orange-red. Peeling bark on the stems adds winter interest. Hardy in zones 5 to 8; prefers full sun to part shade.
White Diamonds® (Hydrangea paniculata ‘HYPMAD I’)
Pure white, panicled blooms are held proudly upright on First Editions® White Diamonds®, a smaller, more compact selection than the typical H. paniculata. The sparkling white blooms eventually fade to parchment with a hint of pink. The flowers keep their shape and make a good choice for cutting. Dark green, leathery foliage is heat and drought tolerant in zones 4 to 8, where the plant prefers full sun to part shade. The densely formed shrub grows to 4 feet tall with a spread of 5 feet.
L.A. Dreamin’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘L.A. Dreamin’)
A reblooming hydrangea that features bounteous blooms in pinks and blues on the same plant, L.A. Dreamin’ doesn’t need the addition of aluminum sulfate or other special fertilizers to create the rainbow. Transitional colors also abound, providing an entire bouquet on one plant from late spring through late summer. Lustrous, rich green leaves provide the perfect backdrop. L.A Dreamin’ prefers sun to part shade in zones 5 to 10, where it can grow up to 4 to 5 feet tall with a spread of 5 to 6 feet.
Enchantress (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Monmar’)
Reblooming hydrangeas are all the rage, and Enchantress flowers continuously throughout summer, featuring huge mophead blooms of crystal blue when grown in acid soil, pink blooms in alkaline soil. Both hues fade to a creamy green at the end of the season. Flowers are supported by strong and bold, ruby-black stems, which make an impressive statement even during winter. The combination of colorful blooms and dark stems makes Enchantress an excellent candidate for cut stems or for drying. The plant reaches 3 to 5 feet tall with an equivalent spread in partial shade to partial sun. It’s hardy in zones 5 to 9.
Everlasting™ series (Hydrangea macrophylla)
The Everlasting series of big leaf hydrangeas was bred in The Netherlands for the cut flower market, but has made an entry into the U.S. as hardy and versatile shrubs that provide unique, long-lasting color in shades ranging from soft, pastel pink and coral to blue and purple to red, often with multiple hues adorning the same mophead flower. Flowers start in varying shades of green, then age to multiple shades before they return to green, retaining a trace of color. They bloom in May and June on 3- to 4-foot-tall stems that are strong enough to support everlasting cut or dried flowers. Planted in full sun to part shade, Everlasting is hardy in zones 5 to 9.
‘Haas’ Halo’ (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Haas Halo’)
‘Haas’ Halo’ boasts impressive, pure white lacecap blooms that reach to 14 inches across, supported by sturdy stems that don’t flop. Blooms grace the shrub from June through October, and the deep, bluish green, glossy foliage provides the perfect backdrop. The native selection stands about 3 to 5 feet tall with a spread of 3 to 5 feet in full sun to partial shade. Hardy in zones 3 to 9, ‘Haas’ Halo’ can handle drought, heat and humidity, and is not known to be bothered by pests or diseases.
If you’re a hydrangea enthusiast, there’s a must-attend event this summer: “Hydrangeas 2015: A Gathering of Hydrangea Experts” is scheduled for July 14 to 16 at Heritage Museums & Gardens in the historic village of Sandwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Featuring tours of spectacular collections as well as private gardens, the program is anchored by an outstanding roster of speakers. The keynote—“The History of Hydrangeas—Earliest Introductions to Current Developments” will be presented by none other than Dr. Michael Dirr, who, as we all know, wrote the book on hydrangeas.
If you grow them, market them, maintain them or just love them, this is where you need to be.
Visit http://heritagemuseums.org/hydrangeas2015 for more information.