Ask Linnea: Hydrangeas

Q: What are the different varieties of Hydrangeas?

A: I found five varieties of Hydrangeas that are hardy to our Zone 5 area.

  • Hydrangea arborescens, or Smooth Hydrangea, is native to Eastern states woodlands. Smooth Hydrangea requires shade to grow its best. Smooth Hydrangea has a rounded form and should be pruned in late winter for the best blooms.
  • Hydrangea paniculata or Pee Gee Hydrangea is an upright shrub or small tree. Pruning should be done in late winter also.
  • Hydrangea macrophylla is known as Bigleaf Hydrangea. This rounded shrub can be pruned after flowering has finished. One thing to note about Bigleaf Hydrangea is that they are water hogs. Instead of the normal 1" of water per week that most plants need during the growing season, Bigleaf requires 2" of water during the summer months.
  • Hydrangea quercifolia or Oakleaf Hydrangea is an upright clumping shrub. Oakleaf Hydrangea can be pruned after flowering has finished. As with most of the hydrangeas, a balance fertilizer for shrubs can be applied in early spring, and again after flowering has finished.

All hydrangeas benefit if care is taken when planting is done in moist but well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add compost as you back fill the soil into the planting hole; that always gets your new planting off to a good start. If you have established shrubs, adding compost helps give the soil some added nutrients.

Hydrangea anomela subspecies petiolaris or Climbing Hydrangea was one of the most asked about shrubs when I worked in a nursery. Climbing Hydrangea has a very woody stem that adds to its charm. Climbing Hydrangea should be pruned just after flowering.

There are many new varieties of Hydrangea that are known for the flower color. Just make sure the one you choose is hardy to our area. Some of our winters have freezing weather without the snow cover to protect our plants. So remember to make sure there is a good protective layer of compost or mulch around them.

Linnea Good is the owner of Linnea's Greenhouse. Her houseplants and wheatgrass can be found at all Bloomingfoods locations.