Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

August 16, 2013

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Hydrangeas come in many colorful, beautiful varieties

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.

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