Snowballs in August?
Sure as shootin’, they’re round and white and about 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Albeit, these snowballs grow on a shrub. We’re speaking of course about snowball hydrangeas when they’re in full bloom in the latter part of July through August.
There are at least four different classes of hydrangeas and each has their own peculiarities, if you will, as far as size of shrub, size of bloom, color of bloom, shape of bloom and a few other variations.
Hydrangea macrophylla (mop head and lacecap): The most popular grown in home gardens and landscapes and are usually blue or pink depending on soil composition. The variations of the two hues are endless hence the huge variety available.
One such is the variety Endless Summer that has become an instant hit primarily because of its ability to re-bloom in a single season and also its cold tolerance even as far north as Minnesota. To turn a macrophylla blue consider applying aluminum sulphate by scratching it into the top inch of soil and watering in.
Lacecaps are magnificent in the landscape because of their somewhat more “looseness” of the plant itself making it a natural next to a tree line or as a specimen planting. Their beautiful flower head consists of tiny seed-bearing florets in the center surrounded by a loose ring of colorful larger blossoms.
I planted one in a tree line at the back of my property that had creamy seed-heads in the center surrounded by cerulean blue florets. It became an instant hit in the dappled light.
Hydrangea arborescens (Annabelle and family): Annabelle is far and away the most recognizable of hydrangea arborescens. They are popular inclusions at any garden center because of their ease of growing and their beautiful huge blooms — sometimes reaching a full 12 inches in diameter. These beauties are also popular because they can be cut back severely each year and have no problem surviving even harsh cold winters. They are quite often used as a hedge because of this.
Hydrangea quercifolia (oak leaf): The oak leaf hydrangea is another popular pick because of its versatility in the garden.
Unlike its counterparts, this hydrangea will thrive in sunny locations and produce a profusion of creamy-white huge panicles. While they will do just fine in a shadier location, they prefer at least a regular infusion of sun.
They, unlike their kin, prefer and will thrive in dry (even sandy) soils and hate wet feet — sometimes even succumbing to a quick death.
Some of the most popular aspects of this shrub is that their leaves have the same shape as a huge oak leaf (hence their name) and the exfoliation of their cinnamon/orange bark flakes leaving handsome and interesting branches. In the fall the leaves (and the only ones of the hydrangeas) will turn to colorful yellows, oranges, burgundies and reds.
As with any purchase of a hydrangea, try to buy them when they are in bloom to take out the guesswork as to bloom color and shape because sometimes depictions on tags are vague and yes, even wrong unfortunately.
Hydrangea paniculata (PeeGee and family): Paniculatas’ need sun, at least several hours of sunlight throughout the day to thrive. This trait sets them apart from macrophylla, which enjoy shade or at least partial shade.
One of the most popular and oldest of the paniculatas’ is PeeGee. They are seen everywhere and can withstand severe weather to zone 3. They may get quite large (8 to 10 inches) in height and width. They may also be pruned into a single branch creating a tree of blossoms.
Their name, paniculata, is derived from the flower-head which resembles a cone-shaped panicle sometimes reaching a foot in length.
Snowballs in August?
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