A love for hydrangeas

Since moving into our house, gardening has always been a little trial and error as well as a steep learning curve, but if there’s one plant I love, then it’s hydrangeas. They were something my Grandma loved too and I adore how these enormous blooms can fill your garden with long-lasting colour whilst also making beautiful arrangements and wreaths.

I think we are so lucky to live in a world where we can gain access to inspiration so easily, from Instagram to Pinterest and apps like Houzz. I got my inspiration for our garden from Gina’s Denmark garden at GNCGarden. Her Instagram is full of gorgeous photos of large ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas which fill her garden surrounded by buxus hedging and purple hues. It’s simply gorgeous.

With varieties ranging in size from container pot specimens to 8-footers, these versatile beauties can add depth and colour to borders, work in pots, or be used to segment areas by using them as hedges.

Growing hydrangeas

Here are some of my favourites and some top tips to get them off to a thriving start: 

Big leaf hydrangeas

Big leaf hydrangeas are divided into two groups; mopheads and lacecaps and are widely loved because of their large, rich in colour floral displays.  They tend to change colour depending on the pH of the soil and whether it’s acidic (for true blue blooms) or alkaline (for pink blooms). Depending on the colour you want to achieve you can change the pH level of the soil with a soil acidifier or garden lime.

Mophead hydrangeas 

Mopheads are the most common type of hydrangea, sometimes called ‘pom-pom’ hydrangeas and come from the macrophylla family. They have large puffy headed blossoms and heart shaped serrated leaves and come in a choice of colours.

Lacecap hydrangeas  

Lacecap hydrangeas belong to the same species (macrophylla) but are more dainty with flat-headed caps surrounded by a cluster of smaller flowers. As they are from the same family as mopheads, they require the same soil conditions.

  • Colour: white, pink, blue, purple or red  
  • Bloom time: June – October
  • Pruning: Very little pruning required, just tidying up. remove dead growth in Spring
  • Tip: Well drained moist soil

Climbing hydrangeas

Hydrangeas make excellent climbing shrubs too. They can reach heights of up to 50 feet and work well for trellises, chimneys, and pergolas and their intricate lacy caps produce fragrant, aromatic white flowers. Most flowering vines don’t tend to tolerate shade, but climbing hydrangeas actually prefer a little shade particularly in hot climates. Just like mophead and lacecaps, climbing hydrangeas like moist, well draining soil with plenty of compost. They’re slow to take off but once established they’ll grow vigorously.

  • Colour: white  
  • Bloom time: May – September
  • Pruning: Prune in the first 2-3 years until established. Once established, the plant will grow vigorously so prune after the plant blooms in mid-summer.
  • Tip: Well drained moist soil

Smooth hydrangea

Also known as wild hydrangeas, smooth hydrangeas produce giant white blooms and are known for their tiny cream flowers. Their leaves tend to be darker green and heart shaped.  

  • Colour: white to pink 
  • Bloom time: June – September
  • Pruning: They bloom on new wood. Prune back close to the ground in winter
  • Tip: Well drained soil, watered regularly throughout the summer months

Oak leaf hydrangea 

True to its name, its foliage is shaped like oak tree leaves and unlike other hydrangeas, its leaves change colour through the seasons.

  • Colour: white to purple/pink 
  • Bloom time: July – September
  • Pruning: They bloom on new wood. Prune back close to the ground in winter
  • Tip: Tend to be hardier than most hydrangeas – protect in winter with a mulch (bark chips)

Panicle hydrangeas 

As Panicle hydrangeas bloom on new growth each summer they are the most hardy, as there’s little chance the flower buds will be damaged by winter frosts. They come to life with arching stems and cone-shaped blooms in white and pink varieties and a change in the temperature can trigger their flowers turning from white to pink or red in the Autumn. 

  • Colour: white to pink
  • Bloom time: July – October
  • Pruning: Pruning is very important for the panicle hydrangea. It ensures that new flowers develop on the plant every year, and keeps it young and healthy. Prune February – March.
  • Tip: Plant in full sun or partial shade 

These wonderful, reliable shrubs provide long lasting colour from July to October and are easy to grow provided you place in the right area of your garden and keep them well watered. With so many varieties, there’s sure to be a place for one in your garden.

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