Saturday, August 24, 2019
Posted By: in Shrubs

​​​Without doubt, macrophylla hydrangeas are very high on any list of most popular summer & fall shrubs in the Pacific Northwest.  Here we offer conditions ideal to keep them in beauty: abundant rainfall in the growing season, acid  soil to keep them the most exquisite blue, with variations possible through treatment, up to and including deepest pink and even variations of colour on the same shrub. Our long falls allow us to enjoy the variation of colour in the flowers as they age. Last, but not least, our mild winters allow us to give them the pruning they like best: having their dried flowers left on all winter, then each sturdy stem cut back to the nearest set of buds.


Not surprisingly, people gardening in colder climates covet hydrangeas for all their manifold beauties, but find it very difficult to provide the conditions they need, a particular difficulty being allowing the stems to stand all winter.  Aware of this demand, breeders have turned their minds to ways to address these difficulties and recent years have seen a number of new strains of macrophylla hydrangeas come onto the market, each addressing the problem in different ways.  While this has expanded opportunities for eastern gardeners it has also greatly enlarged the situations in which we here can grow this wonderful plant.

Perhaps the most exciting is the CityLine strain of hydrangeas.  Blooming, like all macrophyllas on OLD wood, they have been bred to stay very compact: 12-36" wide and tall (for us, undoubtedly closer to the high end).  For gardeners in colder climes, this means they are more easy to protect over the winter (where the plants will likely be smaller).  For us, they still offer a lot for today's smaller gardens and are especially well suited to containers.
 

Cityline Hydrangea Comparison

Variety
Name
Bloom
Desc.
Colour
(Acidic)
Colour
(Alkaline)
Size Blooms On
'Berlin' Lovely flowers with white centres Blue Pink 1-3 ft Old Wood
'Mars' Flowers are white edged violet Violet Deep Pink 1-3 ft Old Wood
'Paris' Reddest of the line, requires aluminum to turn blue Blue Vivid Red 1-2 ft x 2-3 ft Old Wood
'Rio' Early flowering     Strong Blue Purple 2-3 ft Old Wood
'Venice' Flowers green with age Blue Hot Pink 1-3 ft Old Wood
'Vienna' Traditional macrophylla flowers Violet - Blue Pink 1-3 ft Old Wood
Find out more about thie Cityline series on Proven WInner's Website.


Another wonderful line is the Seaside Serenade group, also bred to remain relatively compact.  Named for various sites on the east coast of New England, they are spectacular shrubs with bicolour flowers, and extra thick stems. Additionally, they have been bred to provide interesting fall colour.  They too bloom mostly on OLD wood, although some form new shoots on that wood in the season, which produce more flowers, though smaller.  In colder climates, this means that if the original wood is partly lost to winter, there will still be some flowers.  Here in the lower mainland, we get a first wonderful flush and then a continuation of fresh coloured flowers through the fall.
 

Seaside Serendae Hydrangea Comparison

Variety
Name
Bloom
Desc.
Colour
(Acidic)
Colour
(Alkaline)
Size Blooms On
'Cape Cod' Each floret has white centre Blue Pink 4 ft Old & New Wood
'Cape Lookout' Colour changer, huge blooms, great fall foliage Green→ White→ Pink Same 3.5 x 3 ft Old Wood
'Cape May' Only lacecap (serrata hybrid) of group Blue Pink 2-4 ft Old Wood
'Fire Island' Flowers are white edged with main colour Deep Blue Deep Pink 3.5 ft Old Wood
'Hamptons' Two-toned flowers of distinctive colour Intense Blue Intense Pink 3 x 3.5 ft Old Wood
Find out more about the Seaside Seranade series on Monrovia's Website.



Finally, there is the Endless Summer group, which name has unfortunately given rise to  a myth: that they flower entirely on new wood (like the smooth leaf or Annabelle varieties) and thus can be cut right back, like an Annabelle hydrangea. This is unfortunately not the case.  These hydrangeas (like Seaside Serenade) send out new shoots, which do bloom later in the season. But they form these shoots on OLD wood, the first and largest blooms still arise from the tops of wood formed the previous season. In colder climates, gardeners are advised to mulch them over the winter to preserve that old wood. It obviously takes a lot out of a plant to keep churning out new growth, so increased nourishment is likely to be required as well as intelligent pruning.  
 

Endless Summer Hydrangea Comparison

Variety
Name
Bloom
​​​​​​​Desc.
Colour
(Acidic)
Colour
(Alkaline)
Size Blooms On
'Bloomstruck' Glossy leaves; does bloom on new shoots Violet - Blue Rose - Pink 3-4 x 4-5 ft Old & New Wood
'Blushing Bride' Soft colours White→ Soft Blue Same 3-6 ft Old & New Wood
'Endless Summer' First to introduce this tendency Blue Pink 3-4x 4-5 ft Old & New Wood
'Summer Crush' Intense colour Violet - Blue Raspberry 1.5-3 ft Old & New Wood
'Twist & Shout' Lacecap with vivid red, sturdy stems Periwinkle Blue Deep Pink 3-5 ft Old & New Wood

Find out more about the Endless Summer series on the Endless Summer Website.

With so many varieties to choose from, here in the Pacific Northwest we can find a hydrangea for any situation and any taste.  




Marian Vaughan

Email:mvaughan@artsnursery.com


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Surrey, BC, Canada,
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