In Love with Hydrangeas From My Garden
I counted the other day…we have nine hydrangeas in our gardens – and I guarantee you, there will be more. Why? Because it’s easy to love a hydrangea…they are well mannered, not aggressive. They are low-maintenance; I sprinkle some Osmocote fertilizer on them in early spring to mid-summer and that’s about it. They are quite happy in shade to part-shade (have I mentioned recently that shade is about all I have?). They are not water hogs and although they will get droopy in hot afternoons, they perk up the next morning. And they tolerate clay soil (have I mentioned recently that about all I have is clay soil?).
Even when they aren’t blooming, hydrangea shrubs a nice backdrop or screen, the green foliage adds nice texture to the garden. When they are blooming, they are stunning – attractive not only to humans, but to butterflies and bees, too.
Right now, in one of the gardens, there are two mid-sized mop-head hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) with white blooms absolutely covered in bees. The butterflies think it’s a smorgasbord; I’ve counted six Eastern swallowtails, a tiger swallowtail and a purple spotted on the flowers – all at one time!
The blooms last quite a while, too. I love the way my lacecap hydrangeas (H. macrophylla normalis) bloom so daintily, glowing like lavender jewels in the shade. The lacecaps are probably in too much shade, as they don’t bloom as prolifically as the white blooming mopheads, which do get morning sun.
We’d planted two oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) “Snow Queen” in the wrong place a few years ago. It didn’t take us long to figure out we’d planted a cultivar which would grow too large for the space we’d planted them, since they may grow four to six feet tall and nearly as wide. Fortunately, we quickly realized our mistake and moved them to a roomier space.
They didn’t grow enthusiastically the first year, the second year they seemed like they’d settled in and grew a bit. This is their fourth year and they are now at least six feet tall and gorgeous – covered in blooms.
The blooms are shaped like cones, more resembling H. paniculata blooms. They start out white and slowly turn to a very lovely pink / red and then dry on the stalk to a warm, light brown. They are nice for cutting or drying for bouquets. Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood, so wait until after they’ve bloomed to prune them (although now that they are in the correct spot and have space to grow, I really haven’t needed to do any pruning).
The oak-shaped leaves on this deciduous shrub turn bronze-ish in autumn. During the winter, the older stems have exfoliating bark, which provides a bit of winter interest. Also nice is that the oakleaf hydrangeas are native to the southeastern United States and are hardy from Zones 5 to 9.
Falling in love with hydrangeas is easy. The mophead and the oakleaf are native to the eastern U.S.; there are countless cultivars available to meet your landscaping needs and desires; they attract pollinators; they are low maintenance, they tolerate shade and clay soil…what’s not to like?
Go on…get on-line and start planning for fall planting; you know you want them!
Stay Green, Good Friends!