Hydrangeas provide big, bold blooms at a time when few shrubs are flowering. With the assortment now available, picking the right Hydrangea for where you want to plant can be confusing. All varieties have one thing in common. They thrive when planted in well-drained soil.
Smooth Hydrangea are the first to bloom in early summer. The blooms start out green, turn white, and then return to green. Flowers can be flat, lacecap, or large mophead type. Hydrangea arborescens are shade-loving, tolerating sun with adequate water. Prune in late fall or early spring to 6”-12”. Annabelle and Incrediball are two varieties of Hydrangea arborescens.
Panicle Hydrangea are the most adaptable of Hydrangeas. Grow in full sun to partial shade for summer flowers of chartreuse, white, and shades of pink. Excellent fall foliage color ranges from yellow to orange. Sizes range from 3’-10’, with some available in tree form. Prune in early spring to remove flower heads and control size. Limelight, Quickfire, and Vanilla Strawberry are a few Panicle Hydrangea varieties.
Bigleaf Hydrangea are known for their flowers that can be white, shades of pink, lavender, and even blue with the right soil composition. Illinois soil pH is alkaline, which produces a pink flower. A more acidic soil produces a blue flower. To change the flower color, we recommend amending your soil with Espoma® Soil Acidifier. Newer cultivars like Endless Summer have been cultivated to bloom on new and old wood. They thrive in morning sun with afternoon shade. Only dead stems need to be pruned.
Oakleaf Hydrangea grow in part shade, adding a course texture to the garden. Blooms start white in early summer, changing to a pinkish-mauve before drying to a brown hue. The leaves turn spectacular shades of red and burgundy in the fall. The exfoliating bark and dried brown flower heads bring winter interest. Sizes range from 2’-6’ in maturity. Prune after flowering to control size. Cutting in spring will remove flower buds for the coming year.
Hydrangea anomala petiolaris
Climbing Hydrangea is a ‘slow to get going yet worth the wait’ clinging-type vine. Plant in shade for growth on a study trellis, or use to screen off an area. The foliage is glossy green and the fragrant flat clusters of flowers bloom 6”-10” early to mid summer. The Climbing Hydrangea has peeling bark for winter interest, is drought tolerant, rabbit resistant, and attract butterflies. Prune only as needed. Grows 25’-30’H.