Hydrangea is an old-fashioned NH garden favorite and its appeal seems to pass from generation to generation. If your mother or your grandmother grew them, chances are they probably filled the vases in your childhood home.
There is something dreamy and romantically sentimental about those showy and abundant clusters of colorful flowers in shades of blue, pink, purple and white that we just can’t resist! It is for this reason gardeners get frustrated when their hydrangea won’t perform as expected.
If your Hydrangeas fail to grow or bloom, it might be due to plant selection or pruning needs. At Studley’s, we first advocate choosing a Hydrangea variety that thrives in our local zones. We typically carry three types in our garden center, each of them known to be reliably hardy in New England zones: macrophylla, paniculata and arborescens.
These Hydrangeas either bloom on growth from the previous season or they bloom on growth from the current season. What does this mean for you? They are ideal selections because they don’t typically require annual pruning to look their best.
Macrophylla, also known as, “Big Leaf Hydrangea,” come in several varieties:
-Bloom Struck Hydrangea
-Blushing Bride Hydrangea
-Endless Summer Hydrangea
Big Leaf Hydrangea boasts large, beautiful flowers in pink, purple or blue, and will typically bloom from last year’s growth. The best advice is to NOT prune Big Leaf Hydrangea varieties, unless the shrub has grown too big. If you prune them in the fall or early spring, you risk pruning off the flower buds.
Endless Summer blooms on both last season’s growth AND the current season’s growth. This is an advantage for New England gardeners. Even if these varieties of hydrangea experience any winter die back, you will still enjoy flowers in the summer. Just be patient – and know this is a variety that will take longer to bloom on the new growth.
Pruning Big Leaf Hydrangea To Control Growth
If you feel your shrub has grown too large, the best strategy to control growth is to prune 1/3 of the shrub every year after flowering. This ensures you still have 2/3 of the plant to flower each summer. To do this, wait until the spring when the trees begin leafing out and check your Big Leaf Hydrangea for the leaves to begin emerging. You can then prune back any dead stems to where you see new leaves.
Paniculata and Arborescens Hydrangea Varieties