Connecticut Garden Journal: Cool, new hydrangea varieties to grow
Blue hydrangeas can be stunning in Connecticut, especially along the shore. That's because Hydrangea macrophylla or the big leafed hydrangea that turns blue, is native to coastal Japan where it thrives even in windy, salty air. But not all gardeners are thrilled with the blue hydrangeas in their yard. The plants can flower sporadically, get big and unruly and can be confusing to prune.
But there are options beyond the traditional 'Endless Summer' lines and 'Nikko Blue' varieties. I recently went to a garden talk where I learned about some cool, new varieties.
If size is an issue with your Hydrangea macrophylla bushes try 'Wedding Gown' and 'Wee Bit Giddy'. These varieties only reach 2- to 3-feet tall and wide making them perfect for a small space garden. They also are good repeat bloomers.
Mountain hydrangeas or Hydrangea serrata are becoming more popular in cooler, hilly locations. These are native to the mountains in Korea so are tougher plants, but still can give you large, blue flowers. Most have a lacecap type flower. 'Tuff Stuff' only grows 2- to 3-feet tall and wide. To get the best flowering try a cross between the mountain hydrangea and big leaved hydrangeas. 'Let's Dance Can Do' grow 3- to 4- feet tall, is hardy to zone 4 and produces flowers all along its stem all summer.
Most big leafed hydrangeas are hardy in zones 5 to 9, grow best in part shade to full sun on well-drained fertile soil. Prune to shape and reduce height after the first flush of flowers. Add sulfur to lower the pH and get a deeper blue color.