Hydrangeas: hardy shrubs that add beauty to your garden



Hydrangea are hardy shrubs that will add beauty to any garden. They are easy to grow and do not require a lot of attention. I have two varieties in my garden, Limelight and Oak Leaved Hydrangea (Hydrangea Quercifolia). These are the only types with which I have personal experience, but there are many more varieties.

In general Hydrangeas require a light well drained soil and will not do well in heavy clay soils. If your soil is heavy, lighten it with pine bark mulch or something similar. They require a sunny location and will not do well if planted under trees.

Watering and fertilizing...Keep them well watered as they are thirsty plants. Fertilize them with a 10-10-10 fertilizer or something similar a couple of times during the growing season but don't fertilize them after August as this may encourage late growth witch will not withstand the winters in Chicago.


Lime turns to pink, adding changing color interest to the garden


Limelight hydrangeas can grow quite large, up to eight feet tall, but the size can be controlled with pruning.

They should be planted about five feet apart. If planted in full sun, they will produce more blooms than if planted in part shade. The blooms are a greenish white turning to a brownish pink in the fall and can be used as cut flowers. They like plenty of moisture but should be in well drained soil.

It is essential this be done at the right time late winter or early spring. Limelight blooms on new growth. If pruned too late it will not bloom that year. How you prune depends on the size you want. If you want to maintain the size just prune a little. However, if you want keep it smaller prune back to the last pair of buds on each branch. This is how I pruned the hydrangea illustrated and all the growth is this year's.


Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Oak Leaved Hydrangea

This hydrangea is one of the very few which are native to the United States. So named for the shape of its large leaves which are similar to oak tree leaves, these leaves turn brilliant colors in the fall. It can stand much dryer locations than other hydrangeas. The blooms are a different shape than the mopheads being more of a spike shape my bush has white flowers which turn brown in the fall. My plant is about seven feet tall and has year round interest with the changing leaves and blooms.

Hydrangea drys

The blossom drys, turning brown. It is lovely in dried arrangements

The blooms on this type of hydrangea bloom on last year's growth i.e. the blooms for 2012 will be on growth produced in 2011. If it is necessary to prune it must be done no later than July. Also any dead growth should be removed. If the plants are old and getting thick one third of the branches should be cut off at ground level, this will  invigorate the plant.




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