Hydrangea – Bringing Splendor to Your Garden

Hydrangea – Bringing Splendor to Your Garden

Hydrangea is a timeless plant with impressive flowers, and they often remind us of some of the best vacations, secret hideaways, old family gardens, etc. For this reason, the purchase of a hydrangea is often an emotional investment. K Drive Greenhouse understands this and wants to ensure that prior to purchasing you make the right selection for your garden. There are six different species of hydrangea that are commonly grown in North American gardens. Each one has unique characteristics:

  • Bigleaf hydrangeas – often considered the belle of the ball. They have big pink, purple, or blue ball-shaped flowers. This is the plant that most people mean when they say “hydrangea.” Bigleaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood, and do not require pruning. You may cut flowers for display immediately after blooming. These plants are hardy to USDA zone 5. K Drive Greenhouse carries several of this species, including CITYLINE and LET’S DANCE.
  • Panicle hydrangeas are some of the most rewarding plants you can grow. They are low maintenance and long blooming. They flower every year and their blooms begin white or green before maturing to a beautiful pink, burgundy or red color. Prune these plants in very late winter or early spring. If you prune them any later than suggested, you will be removing potential flower buds. These plants are truly hardy – to USDA zone 3. This species are easy keepers. K Drive Greenhouse carries several of this species, including BOBO, LIMELIGHT and PINKY WINKY.
  • Oakleaf hydrangeas are four-season hydrangea. They have handsome oak-like leaves, showy white flowers in the summer and amazing fall color. In winter, the peeling bark in visible and quite attractive. Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on what is referred to as “old wood” – or wood that is at least a year old. You do not want to prune this type of hydrangea! You may cut flowers immediately after flowering. These plants are native to North America and hardy to USDA zone 5. K Drive carries GATSBY’S PINK and GATSBY’S STAR of this species.
  • Smooth hydrangeas are North American natives with large orb-like clusters of white, pink or green flowers. These shrubs should be cut back in late winter before new growth begins. They are easy to grow, reliable and hardy to USDA zone 3. The ANNABELLE, INVINCIBELLE and INCREDIBALL varieties that K Drive Greenhouse carries falls under this species.


K Drive Greenhouse does not currently carry climbing or mountain hydrangeas. We include them to complete the list of six.

  • Climbing hydrangeas are vines that attach themselves to walls or trees with tiny clinging roots. They have white flowers, are relatively slow-growing and should not be pruned unless they begin to outgrow their space. Hardy to USDA zone 5.
  • Mountain hydrangeas are related to the bigleaf hydrangeas, but are more tolerant of cold. The flowers set on old wood, so any cutting should be done immediately after bloom and should be done in moderation. Their flowers are determined by the soil pH and may be pink or blue, but smaller than those of the bigleaf. Hardy to USDA zone 5.

PRUNING HINT FOR SMOOTH and PANICLE HYDRANGEA

When you cut them back leave a framework of old growth. This will help new branches to stay more erect under the weight of blooms.

PRUNING HINT FOR HYDRANGEA THAT GROW ON OLD WOOD

For gardeners who like to maintain a tidy appearance in their gardens, spent blooms may be snipped off just below the flower head, and removing old, woody canes at the soil line will help keep the shrub healthy and enable it to produce larger blooms.

When planting hydrangea, remember:

When planting hydrangea, remember:

1. Take into consideration what the mature size of the hydrangea you are purchasing will be. This will enable you to space your plants so that they have room to expand and breathe. For example, the PINKY WINKY shown below grows to be 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. Spacing on any side of this newly planted plant should be approximately four feet.
2. They like well-drained soil, and most like to be moist (not wet).
3. Be sure that you’ve dug a hole that is wider than the pot you bought it in and is as deep as that same pot.
4. Once that is done, carefully remove the root ball from the pot, loosen the soil at the end of the ball, center it in the hole and backfill.
5. Last of all, water it well and apply 2-3” of mulch.
6. Hydrangea should be fertilized in the spring with controlled release fertilizer.
7. Some hydrangea, such as PINKY WINKY, have a change in blossom color as the bloom ages.