Spring is coming – I promise!!! Now is a great time to start dreaming about what to add to the garden.
Hydrangeas are widely known and admired for their large, showy blossoms that lend fabulous colour to gardens from mid- to late-summer. Although, Hydrangeas are native to parts of Asia, every year more and more varieties are developed and released that are suitable to our growing conditions. The names designated to the two cultivar groups of “Macrophylla” Hydrangeas fall within two categories that relate to the appearance of the flowers on the plant; “mopheads” and “lacecaps”.
Mopheads are also known as bigleaf or garden Hydrangeas and are very popular and widely grown. Mopheads feature large round flowerheads resembling pom-poms and bloom from mid to late summer. Their flower clusters differ from lacecaps in that some varieties produce sterile flowers with petal-like sepals, while others bear smaller fertile flowers with starry petals. Those bearing sterile flowers bloom for several months, although their color gradually fades toward summer’s end. Mopheads bloom in solid masses, their clusters often so heavy that they cause their stems to droop and bend. The most common mophead we see in our region is the Hydrangea arborescens “Annabelle”. This variety is easy to identify as it develops the large white pom-pom like flowers, often over ten inches in diameter, in late summer. Sometimes after a light frost the flower petals will develop a slight blush of pink. These flowers are great for drying. “Annabelle” hydrangeas also make a great hedge when planted in rows of multiple plants. Annabelle’s have to be cut back each fall to the ground to promote new growth for the next season.
Another favourite mophead that grows well in our region is the “Paniculata” or “Pee Gee” hydrangea which has large oblong white flower heads that have a tendency to flop downwards from the branches. The Pee Gee hydrangea is a shrub that takes on a tree-like form and in some areas it can reach twenty feet tall. These blooms develop a lovely pink shade as the blooms age, extending their beauty well into the fall. After heavy frosts the petals of the flowers turn a rusty brown.
Lacecap hydrangeas is the other variety of hydrangeas that has some cultivars that will grow in this region. Lacecap hydrangeas bear flat round flowerheads with centers of fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of sterile flowers. Their center flowers are not exactly showy, however thee outer rings of their sterile flowers are quite striking. The flowers tend to be light and airy with a delicate structure, not the dense flower structure of the mopheads.
Now that you agree everyone loves hydrangeas you will want to add a variety or two to your garden. Just make sure that before you purchase a plant that you check the tags before buying to make sure you purchase one for our zone. Planning ahead and doing some research will reward you with best results.