Prize Worthy Panicle Hydrangeas
By Kerry Ann Mendez
Panicle Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) will provide months of stunning blooms from summer to fall. In fact, they are sometimes referred to as the "black thumb Hydrangea" because they are so reliable and easy to grow.
Where to Plant
They will thrive in full to part sun and can grow in a range of soil types, as long as it is well-drained. They are also fairly tolerant of road salt, but if it has been a rough winter, I recommend flushing the soil in spring to remove any accumulated salt.
Since Panicle Hydrangeas set their flower buds in spring (not the season before like Bigleaf Hydrangea), it is impossible to lose buds due to freezing. That means you can enjoy a gorgeous display of flowers every year! Plus, pruning is a breeze - if you need to control height, width, or remove broken or crossing branches, simply prune in late fall or early spring.
I think the most challenging aspect of Panicle Hydrangeas is picking which ones to grow – there are so many rock stars to choose from! Heights range from only 2-3 feet (Hydrangea 'Fire Light Tidbit') to 'Grandiflora' that can grow to 15 feet or more. The flowers can be ball-shaped or pyramidal, densely packed or open and airy. Most cultivars have white blooms that age to pink or burgundy, but there are some like 'Limelight' and 'Little Lime' that have lime green blooms that take on a lovely pink blush as the season progresses. Shorter varieties like 'Bobo' and 'Little Quick Fire' make outstanding container plants.
Shrub or Tree?
Finally, you have the option of selecting a multi-stemmed shrub or a tree form. The flowers are the same - the difference is simply that the tree was originally a multi-stemmed shrub pruned to a single stem and grown to create a "trunk".
You'll find a huge assortment of Panicle Hydrangeas every year at Estabrook's and we can help you pick out the perfect one (or ones) for your landscape.