Most gardeners know the tried and true hydrangea for summer color. blooming for months and suitable for drying. There are, however, hydrangeas which can be planted in sun and will thrive and produce huge amounts of easy care (and low maintenance) blossoms for the garden and vase. These are mostly cvs. of Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora (the pee gee hydrangeas). Ease of culture makes them popular, and hybridists have been busy working with this group to produce a nice array of cvs. suitable for many landscape situations and needs. They can funcion as screens, specimens, accent plantings, and even in containers, (best to use the dwarf cvs, unless you are going for BIG spectacular effects!) Here you will find hydrangeas with a different type flower cluster, they have conical clusters of blooms. Blooming is profuse and culture very easy. Maintenance is minimal as well, you only prune once a year! And that pruning can control size of the plant. If never pruned, they can reach the size of a lilac bush, perhaps 12-15 ft tall. but if you prune, you can keep them to 4 ft, most people leave them to grow a bit bigger, perhaps 6-8 ft. Pruning actually helps encourage vigorous growth, which has the effect of producing large flower clusters. Flower clusters can be up to 16″ long! Pinky Winky is a standout among a showy croud. Here you get buds in chartreuse, opening white, aging to pink and VERY spectacular. They are fragrant as well. As the blooms age, they turn a wonderful pink and the tip of the cluster remains white, giving a sky rocket effect to the plant and blooms! Fall gives nice leaf colors in yellows, tans, and even some orange. They are not mentioned as having fall color, but they do. Pruning is simple, just cut way back to near the base of each year;s growth, leaving a few nodes to grow and bloom the following sunner, You must do this before any growth starts, as pruning too late will delay blossoming. Cut branches can be conditioned over night in deep buckets of water, then arrange them in the vase after that conditioning. Additionally, you can dry the blooms for later use. Wait until the individual blossoms mature to a papery consistency, then cut with long stems and hang upside down until thoroudhly dry. Some people sprinkle with spray adhesive and apply glitter fo additional interest and effects.
Other cvs. and species to try: ‘Lime Light’ is a chartreuse cv. Wonderful and color neutral to go with everything.
‘Little Lamb’ is dwarf, so will work nicely in containers and any smaller landscape situations.
There are many other cvs. Most come in whites.
Other species: H. aspera, H. sargentii, H. arborescens and cvs. H villosa and cvs.
Sun, ample water, rich soil(well drained) / adding organic matter, humus, compost will enhance growth. Fertilizer if soil is poor(acid food). These are all low maintenance plants, you only touch them once a year(pruning in winter) and that is it! And they produce some of the boldest floral displays summer can offer any garden!