We recently posted on Facebook about the different types of hydrangeas grown in our area, but we wanted to expand on that with information on a few varieties and even some pruning tips! We get quite a few questions (and a little confusion) about this southern classic, so we wanted to create this blog as an easy reference for our clients.
First, hydrangea types. Typically, in our area we will refer to panicle, mophead, lacecap, and oakleaf hydrangeas. Here’s a brief summary about each type:
Panicle Hydrangeas: These hydrangeas have large, white panicles of flowers that are unaffected by soil pH. While Limelight is the variety traditionally seen, its large size can be overwhelming in many landscapes. We like to opt for the dwarf variety Little Lime for its compact size, topping out at around five feet. Pinky Winky is another variety we love, due to the pink tinge its flowers develop and its moderate size of six to eight feet tall. All of these varieties can take full sun – meaning you can have hydrangeas on the south side of the house too!
Mophead hydrangeas: This is the type of hydrangea that changes color with soil pH and is the most popular type of hydrangea. There are many varieties, but a key feature to think about when selecting from this group is to choose one that blooms on old and new growth. This protects your bloom from late frosts and especially harsh winters that can kill the growth back to the ground. Some such varieties are Endless Summer, Bloomstruck (pictured above), and Nantucket Blue.
Lacecap hydrangeas: Lacecap hydrangeas come from more than one species, but they are affected by soil pH regardless. Locally, our hydrangeas typically lean towards the blue end of the spectrum due to our acidic soils. If you want to get pink blooms, make your soil more alkaline by adding lime. A couple of our favorite varieties are Tuff Stuff and Twist n Shout for their hardiness and delicate blooms.
Oakleaf hydrangeas: Oakleaf hydrangeas are most at home in woodland and naturalistic landscapes – but be cautious if you have frequent deer visits! We like using the regular species Hydrangea quercifolia when space allows, but we opt for the dwarf varieties Ruby Slippers and Pee Wee when space is limited. Ruby Slippers’ flowers are especially red-tinged while Pee Wee’s blooms remain a truer white. A bonus of oakleaf varieties – they all sport good fall color, giving you another season of interest.
Another group worth mentioning is the smooth hydrangea. Though not quite as common or diverse as other categories, this does include the popular white-flowering Annabelle hydrangea.
Pruning hydrangeas is a topic we are questioned over time and time again. We’ll keep it simple, as pruning a hydrangea isn’t an overwhelming task. We often prune hydrangeas minimally to remove dead growth, but spent flowers can remain for winter interest as personal taste allows. The key to pruning hydrangeas is that you don’t do so at a time that will cause you to loose the next year’s blooms. Again, this is where re-blooming hydrangeas are a great choice since they will bloom no matter when you prune them.
As a quick summary – panicle hydrangeas should be pruned in the winter (annabelle hydrangeas should also be pruned in winter), mophead hydrangeas, lacecap hydrangeas, and oakleaf hydrangeas should all be pruned in the summer after they bloom. If you have a twice-blooming hydrangea, they can also be pruned in the winter.
We hope that this article will help you enjoy your hydrangeas to their fullest potential! If you have further questions about hydrangea care or if you would like to arrange for us to plant hydrangeas in your landscape, call our office at 33-765-6340.