Thursday, May 03, 2007

Secrets to the Perfect Hydrangea

Long adored for their luscious blooms and grandeur in the garden, hydrangeas are, and will likely always be, one of the most popular choices for color in the landscape.

Paul Winski, New Products Development Manager for Hines Horticulture, shares tips for selecting the perfect hydrangea for your garden and the latest, breakthrough hydrangea collection available to home gardeners.

“The surge in popularity for hydrangeas has led to an influx of new varieties for home gardeners to choose from,” said Winski. “Thanks to advances in plant breeding, consumers can enjoy long blooming hydrangeas, sun tolerant hydrangeas and even hydrangeas with low maintenance care requirements.”

But amidst the avalanche of choices, Winski contends that intricate physical details are what set some varieties apart from the rest. Angel Star, part of the Halo Hydrangea™, shown here shines in the landscape. One of the standout new hydrangea series Winski recommends is the Halo Hydrangeasä collection.

The Halo Hydrangeasä collection includes seven picotee and bi-colored flower combinations in colors ranging from electric blue and grape to fuchsia and maroon. “What truly sets these hydrangeas apart from other varieties, is the halo of light color that surrounds the edge of each blossom,” said Winski. The name of the series comes form the unique white margin that outlines the petals of each variety in the collection, creating an angelic halo effect.

“The duality of color offers a marked difference in appearance, making the Halos stunning in the landscape and out,” said Winski. “They also look stunning planted en masse in flower beds or work well as cut arrangements inside the home.” Their compact growing habit also makes them ideal for small flower beds and in containers, reaching three feet by three feet at maturity.

For those searching for the quintessential perfect hydrangea for their garden, Winski offers these tips :

Tip #1: Know the differences between a macrophylla and serrata hydrangea.
Hydrangea macrophylla are divided into two groups the mopheads, with their puffy, ball shaped bundle of blooms and the lacecaps, which have a center of fertile, non-showy flowers surrounded by an outer ring of showy sterile flowers. Hydrangea serrata is typically not as robust a plant, with narrower leaves and smaller flowers. Both species bring special landscape qualities to the garden.

Tip #2: Have a spot in the garden already selected before for heading out to the garden center
The ideal location for a hydrangea is in full morning sun and some degree of afternoon shade. But by the other token, avoid deep shade anywhere in the country as this will cause a declining number of flowers over the years to the point where you may get few to none at all.

Tip #3: Pick the perfect time to plant
Hydrangeas of any species should be planted in the spring time after the fear of last frost or in the fall well before the night time temperatures reach 32 degrees. If planting in the fall, avoid high doses of fertilizer to avoid soft growth before winter. Use a water soluble fertilizer at ¼ strength and only apply it twice after fall planting. Plant hydrangeas 45-60 days before the first expected freeze.

Tip #4: Perfect the soil for picture-perfect blooms
The soil should be rich in organic matter and drain well. Avoid planting in highly sandy soils and heavy clay soil. Amend the sandy soil with aged compost and only plant on or near clay if the water will drain away.

Tip #5: Foster a well balanced nutrition
Feed your hydrangeas! Hydrangeas are hungry plants and do best when fed enough during early to mid growing season. A slow release fertilizer is a must.

Tip #6: Keep these thirsty plants hydrated
Regular irrigation is important both after planting and 5 years later even after the hydrangea is established. Water newly planted hydrangeas in part shade thoroughly once a day and twice a day if planted in mostly sun for the first two to three weeks.

Gardeners looking for the latest and greatest new hydrangea varieties should keep an eye for these new introductions:

Bliss™ — This show-stopping, new macrophylla/serrata cross offers very large pink or blue lacecap flower heads. The hydrangeas glossy, spring green foliage turns a lovely shade of merlot as temperatures cool in the fall, providing three full seasons of garden interest. With its serrata bloodlines, Bliss™ Hydrangea performs effortlessly in Zone 6 and is an excellent choice for shade or part-shade gardens.

Blue Frost™ Hydrangea — This compact lacecap hydrangea shows its deep blue flowers on flat semi-spherical heads. Blue Frost™ blooms from early July to late fall, and is excellent for any garden but is equally suited for containers on patios and balconies.

Big Smile™ — The Big Smile™ Hydrangea is a stunning new cultivar that offers dark stems and glossy foliage in the spring, magnificent lacecap flowers through the summer and deep merlot fall foliage. Enhanced hardiness makes Big Smile™ Hydrangea an exceptional choice for gardeners in Zones 5 and 6.

Halo Hydrangeasä thrive in partial shade, and were extensively tested in garden settings across the country to ensure superior performance in gardens zones 6 to 9. As with all hydrangeas, Halo Hydrangeas™ need ample moisture. For more information about the Halo Halo Hydrangeasä collection or other hydrangeas, visit

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out Jo Ann Gardner's recent article in Fine Gardening (June 07)about Fusion Glow. It's fabulous!! We'll be posting it soon.