The Hydrangea is a wonderful shrub to fill space and add a pop of color. This gardeners’ favorite is a dependable choice for almost any garden, and new selections are being introduced that offer a broad range of color and size. Overall, a hydrangea requires a shaded, moist soil location. Different varieties tolerate more sunlight, but constant moisture is necessary to ensure survival of a hydrangea in more sun.
The Annabelle hydrangea, a herbaceous shrub that grows about 3-5 feet tall and wide, has large white clusters of flowers that cover the plant during the summer. This hydrangea flowers on new growth, so plants can be cut back near the ground to encourage new growth and more prolific flowering.
The commonly known Mophead hydrangea has the same tight clusters as the Annabelle, but the flowers are generally blue or pink. The soil nutrients impact the flower color, and it is possible to change the color of a pink or blue hydrangea by adjusting the nutrients in the soil around the plants. A lace cap variety has a looser, flatter cluster of flowers. These hydrangeas flower on old wood, an important fact to remember when pruning.
A versatile hydrangea is the Oakleaf, so named for its leaves that resemble those of an oak tree. Through the summer, the large leaves and white flowers are attractive; during the winter, the interest continues with the exfoliating bark, which peels off in layers as the plant matures. Snow Queen and Alice are good choices for large locations; Sikes Dwarf and Peewee work well in smaller areas.
Not your typical hydrangea, the Panicle is an excellent choice for sunnier garden spots. It grows more as a woody shrub than a herbaceous plant, and the flowers are clustered in a large cone shape rather than a ball. Popular varieties include Limelight and Little Lime (an excellent dwarf plant), both of which have a green tint to the flowers. Tardiva and Pinky Winky both have larger, looser white flower clusters, with Pinky Winky turning deep pink as the flowers age. The non-dwarf varieties can grow 6-8 feet tall if not tended.
The Climbing hydrangea is a great option for a flowering vine, especially in a shaded location. It grows by clinging to a structure with small aerial roots, and the vine is full of white flowers, similar to the lace cap variety, during the summer.