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Ten Tips When Choosing Hydrangeas

All hydrangeas provide big, bold blooms at a time when few shrubs are flowering. As flowers start to turn papery, they can be cut for drying or left on the plants to add excellent interest in the winter. 

Bloom colors range from light lime green to white to pink, red and mauve-violet. Many hydrangeas will start with white blooms. Then as they fade they will turn various shades of pink depending on the variety.

All hydrangeas have one thing in common—they love to be planted in well-drained soil.

Hydrangea Invincibelle Ruby  
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invincibelle Ruby’ (left) Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball Blush’ (right)

Hydrangea arborescens are the first to bloom in early summer on new growth. They can take full sun to full shade, reblooming big balls of flowers summer through fall.

Hydrangea macrophylla
Hydrangea macrophylla flower.

Hydrangea macrophylla can produce violet or blue flowers however in Illinois our soil pH is alkaline which will produce a pink flower. A more acidic soil produces a blue flower. We recommend amending the soil every two months during the growing season with Espoma® Soil Acidifier if you want to get a blue-ish flower. 

Hydrangea quercifolia, commonly known as Oakleaf Hydrangea, has exfoliating bark and spectacular fall foliage color in shades of red and burgundy. 

Hydrangea madrophylla ‘Summer Crush’ (left) Hydrangea x ‘Tuff Stuff Ah Ha’ (right)

Two new hydrangeas for 2019 are Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Summer Crush’ and Hydrangea x ‘Tuff Stuff Ah Ha’. Summer Crush blooms are intense raspberry red. Tuff Stuff Ah Ha prolifically blooms pink waterlily-like florets from early summer to frost. Growing 2’x3’ in height and width, both fit well in small spaces.

Some Hydrangea paniculata, such as Vanilla Strawberry, come in tree form, making an outstanding summer floral display when other trees are not in bloom. Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’ has the biggest flower clusters at a massive 15”. Add to your landscape next to evergreens or give it a spot of its own to show off in grandeur. 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Quick Fire’ just starting to turn pink.

Use hydrangeas as a backdrop in a perennial garden to add height, texture and year-round interest. Plant them as a hedge or to soften a corner. There is no doubt adding hydrangeas to your landscape will bring curb appeal, winter interest and great eye-catching color at a distance.