Hydrangeas are most noted for their large, showy flower clusters that bloom in the summer months, putting on quite a show. Several varieties are suited for almost any garden setting.
Hydrangea flower cluster
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Hydrangeas are perennial shrubs that are hardy in zones 3 to 9. They can be grown in full sun but prefer shade at midday. There are a number of varieties, the most often grown being the gandiflora (also called smooth), oakleaf, peegee and French hydrangea. All are woody shrubs with large flower clusters.
The grandiflora hydrangea has showy flowers that turn from green to white to pink throughout the summer. It grows from 3 to 5 feet tall.
The French hydrangea (lace-cap being a sub-variety) can grow up to 8 feet tall and has blooms that grow so large they weigh down the branches. French hydrangeas change color depending on how acid the soil is--the more acid, the bluer the blooms; the more alkaline, the blooms become more pink.
The peegee hydrangea ranks as a small tree that grows up to 25 feet tall.
Oakleaf varieties grow as tall as 6 feet.
Where to Plant
Hydrangeas can be planted in any well-drained, fertile soil. Grandiflora may send out runners and can easily produce an entire group of new plants. Hydrangeas like light to full shade but will tolerate sun as long as they get afternoon shade.
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How to Plant
Container-grown plants can be planted in the spring or fall. French and grandiflora hydrangeas should be placed 3 feet apart, pegees at least 6 feet apart and oakleaf hydrangeas about 5 feet apart. Water generously after planting and in times of drought.
Hydrangeas can be pruned in late winter or early spring. Grandifloras can be pruned to the ground. French varieties can be pruned of weak branches. Dead flowers can be cut to improve flowering. Oakleaf varieties don't usually need to be pruned unless there are damaged or weak branches.
- "New Complete Guide to Gardening"; Susan Roth; 2001
- "Pick the Right Plant"; Time-Life Books; 1998
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Sonia Acone is a full-time freelance writer in northeast Pennsylvania. She has been published by The Wild Rose Press and is currently writing children's picture books, as well as online content. Acone writes articles for eHow and GardenGuides.com. She has been freelance writing since 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and professional writing from Elizabethtown College.