To want a flower garden is human. To have a hydrangea garden is divine. These marvels of the plant world are known around the globe for their eye-catching blooms that can be as large as the human head. Colors range from indigo blues to candy cotton pink. The most appealing trait of the hydrangea is its ability to change colors based on the type of soil it lives in. Alkaline soils will change the flowers to a more pinkish color. If you’re feeling blue, plant in soil that leans towards the acidic side.
Despite its tendency for gargantuan flowers, the hydrangea is basically a “plant it and leave it be” specimen. Pests and disease search elsewhere. Deer find it unappetizing. It can grow in a wide variety of soils. It rarely needs pruning, except to remove dead or diseased branches. And, they can grow in the ground or in containers.
What you do need to pay attention to is sunlight. The further north you live (up to Zone 3), the more sun the hydrangea can abide by. If you live further south (Zones 7 and up), understand that your hydrangea cannot take all day sun. The best recipe for these climates is 2-3 hours of morning sun with an afternoon of partial shade.
What Hydrangea is Best for You?
The beauty of these plants is that beginners can dive right in and have showy blooms that will upscale the neighborhood. Basically, you are looking for colors, flower shapes, growing zones, and ease of care.
Below are the styles of hydrangeas, and then some of the best varieties in each category:
Bigleaf Hydrangeas (H. macrophylla)
These varieties are perfect for gardeners who live in Zones 8 or warmer. Plus, the Farmer’s Almanac recommends the Bigleaf for experimenting with bloom color change. Finally, these plants are known to bloom on last year’s growth.
Two of the most popular hydrangeas in this category are…
The rock star of the hydrangea world. Horticulture guru, Michael Dirr, calls it, “One of the most important plant introductions of the last 50 years.”
A list of attributes:
● 6 months of flowers
● Can grow bountifully up to Zone 4
● Virtually frost proof
● 8-10 blooms
● Perfect cut flower
The Endless Summer is also unique because it can bloom on both old and new growth.
Bluer than BB King, this Hydrangea will spruce up any garden design with its deep indigo colors.
A winner for many reasons…
● Blooms from early summer into fall
● 6 inch snowball-shaped blossoms
● Landscape adaptable
The Nikko thrives best in Growing Zones 6 and warmer. Plus, its 6 foot height and width makes it the perfect candidate for a foundation hedge.
Panicle Hydrangeas (H. paniculata)
Beginner growers, this is your perfect hydrangea. Its trademark cone-shaped flowers will make amateur gardeners look like experts. These tough customers can thrive in Growing Zones 3 and warmer, and they are known for blooming on new growth starting in early summer.
The newest entrant in the Endless Summer series range from deep purples to vibrant reds. Plus its fall foliage of burgundies and reds makes it a three season wonder
It’s a perfect hydrangea for many reasons…
● 10 to 12 weeks of blooms
● Flowers on old and new stems
● 5 inch blooms
● 4 foot height and 5 foot width makes it perfect for compact gardens
Southern residents, never fear. The Bloomstruck can even take the heat. Just make sure some dappled shade is available.
This tall drink of water (10’ high and 6’ wide) is also the most cold hardy (Zones 3-8) of all hydrangeas. The monster blooms go from white in spring to lime green in the summer, to, finally, deep pink in the fall.
This is a favorite with beginner growers because…
● Lowest maintenance of any hydrangea
● 8 inch blooms
● Foliage turns red in the fall
● Perfect hedge potential
For even more zest to your growing flair, try growing this variety indoors. Careful, your other plants may develop envy!
And, check out its dwarf cousin, the Hydrangea Little Lime.
Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea
This gorgeous hydrangea was voted ‘Top Plant of 2010’ by the American Nursery and Landscape Association. The flowers are the showstoppers here, transforming from a cotton-candy hue to deep maroons by late fall.
It’s also a best-seller due to…
● 6-8 inch blooms
● Excellent privacy hedge
● Flowers from mid-summer well into autumn
And cut flower fanatics will love the floral arrangements with its unique multi-color looks.
Oakleaf hydrangeas (H. quercifolia)
This final variety has impeccable bud hardiness and can thrive in Zones 5 and warmer. Known for blooming on old growth, the oakleaf boasts amazing fall colors that range from reds to purples. Plus, the flower heads transform into deep browns that can last all winter.
But, that’s not the only reason to own this plant…
● Multi-colored blooms of white and pink
● Excellent privacy hedge
● Extremely drought tolerant
● Wildlife attractant
The Oakleaf is perhaps the most versatile of all hydrangeas and most flowering plants. This is one plant that put its foliage and blooms on equal footing.