What’s Blooming Now, In August: Hydrangeas
August 24, 2018
Hooked on Hydrangeas!
With nearly 100 species available, hydrangeas are one of the most prevalent and versatile shrubs in the contemporary garden. ‘Mophead’ and ‘Lace Cap’ hydrangeas are considered the “classics” with their immense, glossy green leaves and striking clusters of flowers ranging from blue to pink. Here at B&V, we love hydrangeas because they offer a wide variety of species and cultivars that provide an amazing range of colors, textures and seasonal interest. August is a great time to celebrate this varied genus since hydrangeas are known for their prolific blooms that begin early in the season and often continue into the fall, with some varieties even changing color throughout the season.
Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is known for its massive, rounded flower clusters and soft heart-shaped leaves. The classic cultivar ‘Annabelle’ is a favorite among gardeners for its huge flower clusters that are dependable bloomers and hardy in cold winter climates. The cultivar ‘Incrediball’ is our favorite, not least because the name perfectly describes the 12" wide blooms. ‘Incrediball’ also has the stems to support those big blossoms and does not flop over under the weight of its flowers the way ‘Annabelle’ often does. ‘Incrediball’ also changes colors throughout the season, emerging pale green, maturing to pure white, then aging back to pale green towards the end of its bloom. Finally, it turns dusky tan in autumn. The cultivar ‘Incrediball Blush’ puts on an even brighter show with silvery pink blossoms in early summer that deepen to dusky rose in fall.
Shown Above: Smooth Hydrangea – Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’
Smooth Hydrangea is an excellent addition to contemporary borders and large cottage gardens. Plant in full to partial sun and water deeply throughout the summer. Plant several in a row for a stunning flower display throughout summer, or in a small cluster in cottage and woodland gardens for excellent cut flowers.
Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) gets its name from large, uniquely-shaped leaves that resemble big, roughly-textured oak leaves. The large leaves emerge in late spring and provide a dark green backdrop for stately cones of white flowers that begin to bloom in early summer. As the large white blossoms mature throughout the summer they acquire a pinkish blush that eventually matures to shades of rose in early autumn, often persisting until first frost. The leaves also change color in autumn, turning deep red, burgundy and purple. In winter, delicate spent flower heads add interest to strong structural branches and flaky cinnamon-colored bark.
Shown Above: Oakleaf Hydrangea – Hydrangea quercifolia
Oakleaf Hydrangea can be grown in a range of sizes depending on the space you want to fill. The species typically grows to be 5'-6' tall and wide, with dwarf cultivars like ‘Munchkin’ and ‘Pee Wee’ that stay small, growing up to 3'-4' tall and wide, and larger cultivars like ‘Alice’ that can grow up to 10'-12' tall and wide. Oakleaf Hydrangea thrives in partial sun to partial shade and moist soil, it can take some direct sun if it is deeply and regularly watered but will look best when grown in partial shade.
Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) is named for its large, loose clusters of small flowers. There are many cultivars of Panicle Hydrangea available that provide a range of varying attributes like size, color and flower shape. Most of these cultivars have simple, delicate green leaves and flower clusters ranging from white to pink.
Shown Above: Panicle Hydrangea – Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bobo’
One of our favorites of the panicle species is simply known as ‘Bobo’. We love this little shrub for its big, fluffy white flowers that completely cover the bush from July to September. The flowers emerge bright white in July and age to blush pink starting in August. Robust stems prevent the large flowers from drooping and support the flower heads well into winter, allowing them to age gracefully through the seasons. The compact form of this shrub, up to 3' tall and wide, makes it ideal for small spaces. Its adaptability makes it a great addition to any garden with full sun or partial shade and evenly moist soil. While most hydrangeas will tolerate some direct sun, they need plenty of water and will not thrive in dry exposed sites. Plant ‘Bobo‘ in a row on top of a wall, or along the border of a planting bed or walkway for a lush contemporary cottage effect.
Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) are a unique species of the Hydrangea genus characterized by their climbing form and woody vine-like branches that attach to fences, trees and upright structures through twining aerial rootlets. The upright climbing habit of this hydrangea is enhanced by lateral branches that grow straight out from the main stem to provide excellent surface coverage and create a lush, layered appearance.
Shown Above: Climbing Hydrangea – Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris
Climbing hydrangea is an excellent choice for growing along low walls, on top of fences or as an accent on the trunks of tall mature trees like Doug Fir. We love this climbing plant for its deep green, heart-shaped leaves and flat, elegant flower clusters that resemble the ‘Lace Cap’ hydrangea. While it is deciduous, the bark is attractive and similar to other hydrangea species with a rich cinnamon color and flaky texture. This species is less sun tolerant than other hydrangeas and should be grown in partial to full shade with evenly moist, well-draining soil. While some hydrangeas can thrive in heat and humidity, the climbing hydrangea prefers a consistently cool and shady environment with regular water.
What else is blooming?
This post is part of our ongoing “What’s Blooming” series. As we add more, we’ll update the list here, so you can continue learning about the lovely plants blooming (or otherwise looking great) in the Seattle area each month.
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