If you could select only one type of flowering shrub for your garden, you couldn’t go wrong by choosing a hydrangea. But don’t stop at only one type of hydrangea, because the diversity among these plants includes different colors and types of flowers as well as distinctive leaf shapes and varying bloom times. Place these five hydrangeas throughout your garden and enjoy a long season of flowers!
1. Endless Summer
A remarkable improvement over standard mophead-type hydrangeas, the Endless Summer Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’) just keeps blooming and blooming. Unlike the species, which blooms once in a growing season, Endless Summer is a remontant plant, which simply means it’s a rebloomer. Also, even if there’s a late spring frost, Endless Summer blooms on new growth, so once new leaves appear, the flower buds aren’t far behind! Flowers may be shades of blue or pink, depending on the soil’s pH. If your garden soil is acidic, the flowers will be blue. But if your garden soil is more alkaline, you’ll have pink flowers!
Few flowering shrubs command attention like the Limelight Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’). Huge, cone-shaped flower panicles burst into bloom in the most brilliant shade of white and persist on the plant for most of the summer. As summer moves closer to autumn, the flowers turn lime-green before transitioning to pink in the fall — truly a sight to behold! Panicle hydrangeas like Limelight are the most cold-hardy hydrangea species, surviving winters to USDA plant hardiness zone 3.
Did you know there’s a native hydrangea that’s an outstanding performer in the garden? The Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is so-named because of its dramatic foliage, which resembles lobed oak leaves and grows up to 12 inches long! But the flowers give this plant’s leaves a run for their money. White cone-shaped blossoms turn varying shades of pink in the fall. Not to be outdone by the flowers, oakleaf hydrangea’s leaves once again take center stage in fall when they turn shades of reddish-purple!
The belle of the ball in the hydrangea world is the Annabelle Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’). The size of Annabelle’s round flower heads must be seen to be believed — up to 12 inches across! These pure-white blooms are so big you can see them from across your yard, nodding in the breeze. Annabelle Hydrangea is a true winner — it was awarded the 1995 Georgia Gold Medal as the outstanding shrub.
5. Nikko Blue
Last but certainly not least is the quintessential ‘mop head’ hydrangea — the Nikko Blue (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’). The round blossoms are blue if you have acidic soil and pink if you have alkaline soil. It’s the perfect understory plant where it thrives in partial shade under trees or large shrubs. Nikko Blue is a fast-growing hydrangea that prospers in moist (but not soggy) soil.
Unrivaled Cut Flowers
- Fresh. If you enjoy dramatic cut-flower bouquets to decorate your home, you’ll love arranging armfuls of hydrangea stems in your favorite vase. Strip any leaves from the stem sections that will be underwater, and re-cut the stems just before you place them in the water.
- Dried. Hydrangeas make some of the prettiest dried flowers. Cut flowering stems at the peak of their bloom, hang them upside down in a dark closet and they’ll dry to perfection!