Heavenly hydrangeas: it’s so easy to understand why they continue to be one of our most beloved flowering plants. Adored for their long seasons of bloom and interest, hydrangeas—whether tree, shrub, or climber—can be used in nearly every Long Island garden or landscape setting. Worth mentioning, they also make great cut flowers for the home!
With so many to choose from, how do you make sense of it all? Here’s a snapshot of some of the more popular hydrangeas:
Hydrangea macrophylla is the most popular and widely recognized grouping of hydrangeas. There are many cultivars to choose from, including Nikko Blue, Pink n’ Pretty, and Penny Mac.
Remontant varieties are those that bloom more than once during the growing season. The best known is the Endless Summer series—Blushing Bride, Twist-n-Shout, Bloomstruck, Summer Crush and, the most adored, The Original Endless Summer.
Hydrangea arborescens—think Annabelle and her to-die-for large white flowers. And if you need more reasons to include this hydrangea in your landscape, Annabelle is easy to grow and care for.
Hydrangea paniculata, commonly called the panicle hydrangea, can easily be used in landscape borders. Favorites Limelight and Tardiva are known for their beautiful flowering in late summer.
Hydrangea quercifolia, the oakleaf hydrangea, gives us so many reasons to buy and plant! Whether it’s the beautiful oak-shaped leaves, long, panicled flowers, beautiful orange-red fall color, or the fact that oakleaf hydrangea will flower in shady locations, this is a “must plant” for any landscape.
Hydrangea petiolaris, the climbing hydrangea, is an attractive woody vine that readily attaches itself to trellises, walls, or fences. Give it strong support! Flat, airy clusters of white fragrant flowers appear in summer. Not just a one-season-of-interest vine, older peeling bark turns a cinnamon color and spent flowers catch the winter snow.
Culture & Care
Hydrangeas are adaptable plants that grow best in sun to partial shade locations. Think about the areas of your landscape that are possibly worthy of hydrangeas—foundation plantings, walls or fences, raised beds, garden borders. A few words of caution when selecting a planting site: avoid areas that are poorly drained, exposed to constant high winds, or where there is intense afternoon sun, especially during the summer months.
Soil preparation—yes, it’s so worth the time and effort to properly prepare the soil prior to planting. Work in organic matter—compost or composted manure to enrich the soil—then you are ready to plant. Hydrangeas prefer soils that are moist, yet well-drained; organic matter helps with this.
People will sometimes refer to hydrangeas as “thirsty” plants. Translation: never let hydrangeas go dry, especially during Long Island’s summer droughts. An inch or two of water per week during the growing season for established plants—whether from Mother Nature, you, or your sprinkler system—is required. Newly planted hydrangeas should be checked daily; water as needed to keep the soil moist. Hydrangeas can be lovely in decorative planters. Be sure to use a hose (or add drip to the planters) to keep the soil moist!
During periods of extended drought and high temperatures, hydrangeas (newly planted or established) may require additional watering to keep them happy. It’s best to check them daily. Leaves that appear scorched around the margins are telltale signs of drought damage.
Mulch with several inches of an organic material (NOT peat moss) to conserve needed soil moisture. Do not apply mulch directly on the crowns or stems.