With their oversized blooms, variety of colors, and season-long pageantry, hydrangea are a summertime favorite for good reason. They look at home everywhere from charming cottage gardens to luxuriously elegant vistas and even formally manicured landscapes.
These hardy plants are low-maintenance and grow in zones across the country, and indeed across the world. With nearly 75 varieties to choose from, they can be found from Asia to the Americas, on mountainsides, in forests, and in suburban landscapes everywhere.
The hydrangea is so beloved, in fact, that it’s earned its own special day. January 5th each year is officially celebrated as Hydrangea Day, and even though yours may not be in bloom then, you’ll love how easy it is to dry and preserve these beauties for year-long enjoyment.
In this Spotlight series, we highlight exceptional seasonal plants worthy of any garden view, and sumptuous hydrangea more than suits as a summertime prize.
More Options Than You Can Shake A Bloom At
The good news is that not all of hydrangea’s 75 varieties are suited for New Jersey seasons! But that still leaves you with quite a selection to choose from.
The Bigleaf Hydrangea is perhaps the most recognizable, with its showy, floral poofs in shades from blue to pink. One of the most unique things about this variety is that you can actually control the color of the flowers! The more acidic your soil, the bluer the flowers, while alkaline soil will yield pink blooms.
Changing flower colors, and even achieving a variety of shades within the same plant, is as simple as playing with soil additives to change the pH. It can take some time – a few weeks or even months, but you’ll be rewarded with a stunning array of color hues as unique as your own personality.
Prefer the soothing and serene white hydrangea? Choose the Smooth variety, which starts as pale green blooms but matures into bright, creamy white.
Oakleaf and Panicle varieties produce more of a cone shape than a round bloom, in shades from white to pale pink to rich coral.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there are even climbing varieties that look spectacular year-round, with lacecap flowers during summer, stunning golden foliage through fall, and rich brown-red bark during winter.
Depending on how you prune them, they can be grown naturally as a shrub or cultivated into a tree that can canopy a garden beneath. With so many options, it’s no wonder these plants are a perennial treasure.
Care & Maintenance
Once you’ve chosen a variety (or two!), you’ve mastered the hard part! Caring for hydrangeas after that is quite easy. They’ll grow in sun or shade, but for ideal blooming, look for an area that gets full morning sun with some afternoon shade, or you risk wilted flowers. Don’t fret if your yard won’t cooperate – there are verities that do better in full sun than others, so choose accordingly.
Hydrangeas need plenty of water. Their name, in fact, is derived from the Greek word hydro, which means water, and angeion, which means vessel. These little “water vessels” do need a lot of moisture, so be sure to water thoroughly during the hot, growing season.
Go light on the fertilizer, if you use any, or you risk burning the roots. Otherwise, a mulch cover during winter should keep these beauties healthy and strong year-round.
They don’t need much pruning, either – just a couple of snips to remove old flowers to make room for new, but do be mindful of the variety you have as that will change your pruning window.
Old-wood bloomers, like the Bigleaf, should only be pruned as the flower fades and before new buds form. New-wood bloomers, which include the Smooth variety, should be pruned during winter when shrubs are dormant. Proper pruning is important, because if you accidentally prune off buds, you may end up with green foliage and no blooms the following season.
Why We Love It
What’s not to love! Gorgeous colors, long-lasting blooms from spring through summer, easy care, a variety to suit many spaces and climates – these plants are as close to perfect as you can get. And yet, there’s still some icing to put on this cake.
They’re versatile enough to be grown in gardens, and even in containers. Choose a container with a wheeled platform and you can move plants throughout the season to take best advantage of the sun and shade, and to create your own unique views, whether you’re planning a back yard gathering or creating inviting curb appeal.
They’re a favorite of butterflies, too, which only adds to their charm.
Hydrangeas not only look great outdoors, but they’re wonderful flowers for indoor arrangements – fresh or dried. Snip full blooms and place in a vase of water for a long-lasting centerpiece. From wedding bouquets to dinner tables, these flowers have been crowd-pleasers for generations.
For off-season enjoyment, wait until the end of summer just as the flowers are beginning to fade, and snip them to dry and grace your home all winter. They’ll achieve an antiqued look that will add soothing color and beauty to your home even on the coldest, darkest day.
It’s no wonder that hydrangea is on the top of so many people’s favorite list and why it’s a garden staple throughout New Jersey and the world. If you’d like to find out more about how hydrangea can beautify your home, and which varieties will work best, contact us for a consultation. We’d love to share this summertime gem with you!