Smooth and Panicle Hydrangeas

By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

Hydrangeas are easy to grow shrubs that have strikingly large blooms perched atop sturdy stems.  Most hydrangeas grow in partial shade and will perform best with at least 4 hours of morning sunlight.  Some varieties of hydrangeas will also grow in full sun if they are kept moist.  Because their roots are shallow, they tend to dry out quickly.  Therefore, plant hydrangeas in moist, well-drained soil.  Take care not to overwater because hydrangeas don’t like “wet feet”.  Adding a thin layer of mulch will help keep moisture in.  One of the most common questions at Bloch’s Farm in Green Lake is, “How do I prune my hydrangeas?”

Pruning can be confusing when it comes to hydrangeas.  Some hydrangeas bloom on “old wood” and some bloom on “new wood”.  Blooming on “new wood” means the shrubs can be pruned in late winter or early spring and buds will form on the new wood grown in the current season.  Pruning encourages the strong new growth needed to support the weight of the large blossoms, and pruning can also lead to larger flowers.   Remove old canes or too-tall stems at ground level, and cut the rest of the stems down to about one-third of their total height.  This will provide a strong framework to support the new growth.  

Examples of hydrangeas that grow on new wood include the smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) varieties:  Annabelle, Invincibell, and Incrediball to name a few.  The smooth hydrangea is one of the easier, lower-maintenance varieties. Plant sizes vary from the 1-foot tall Invincibelle Wee White to 5-foot tall Incrediball.   The large, round flowers bloom during mid-summer.  Colors range from white to pink and may turn a greenish jade color toward the end of summer. 

Other hydrangeas that bloom on new wood are the Panicle (Hydrangea paniculata) varieties, a few of which include Bobo, Fire Light, Little Lime, Pinky Winky and Vanilla Strawberry.  These hydrangeas differ from the smooth varieties in that their flowers are more cone-shaped.  Blooming occurs in mid- to late summer, the colors beginning as white or lime green and turning pink toward summer’s end.  Panicle hydrangeas range from the 2-foot tall Bobo to the 8-foot tall Limelight, and the taller versions can be pruned into trees.  

Stop in today to get your stunningly beautiful hydrangeas!  Bloch’s Farm has many varieties available!  Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions.  You can also check out our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and be our friend on Facebook.  Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale!  June 12th- June 14th 20% off all annuals (excluding herbs and vegetables).

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