The Different Types Of Hydrangeas

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Hydrangeas have long been a favorite in gardens from the mountainsides of Hawaii to the rainforests of Seattle; across the plains and deserts of the West and Midwest and down to the gulf shores of Florida. The large, showy balls of tiny flowers give a dramatic flourish to any garden. Their easy care qualities give a gardener more time to enjoy the garden and less time maintaining it. Hydrangeas also make excellent houseplants and the dried flowers can be used in flower arrangements and centerpieces.

Different Types of Hydrangeas

There are several types of hydrangeas and each type has its own special care needs. Here are the different types of hydrangea:

  • Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is one of the most popular species that is cold hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6. It is a common houseplant that can also be planted outdoors. The flower colors depends on the soil pH. Prune in late summer after the flowers have faded and shoots begin to grow from the lower parts of the stems.
  • Hills-of-Snow or Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is native to the easternU.S.. It grows into a large shrub over 3 feet tall and just as wide. Prune to the ground line in late winter or early spring. Smooth hydrangea produces white flowers that turn a pale green as they age. Create striking mass plantings by grouping Smooth hydrangea.
  • Pee Gee hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) is the most common hydrangea and is prized for its large white flowers which turn pink and dry on the plant. It can be shaped into a tree form and displayed in the garden as a specimen plant. Prune regularly to prevent the plant from becoming overgrown. Remove dead flowers and thin the previous season’s growth in late winter or early spring.
  • Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is native to theU.S., has oak leaf shaped foliage, attractive flowers and provides fall color when the leaves turn a deep burgundy. Plant as part of a mixed border or as a mass planting in a lightly shaded and protected area. Prune in early spring to remove any dead wood.
  • Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) loves to attach its flowering woody vine to vertical brick or wood surfaces. Climbing hydrangea can also be planted to grow up a tall tree or over a rock pile. They grow well in both sunny or shaded locations. This hydrangea does not require pruning, but vines that have become too long may be shortened during the summer.
  • Panicle hydrangea can be grown in areas as cold as Zone 4. It has large white flowers and can grow between 10 and 15 feet tall.

different types of hydrangeas  different types of hydrangeas

Caring for Hydrangeas

Grow hydrangeas in full sun or partial shade and in a rich, moist soil. Plants that receive too much shade will not produce as many flowers as a plant that receives adequate sunlight. In warmer climates, plant hydrangeas in an area that receives some shade. Hydrangeas should also be protected from extreme winds to prevent the plants from drying out. The leaves lose moisture when exposed to hot, dry winds causing the foliage to wilt. Bigleaf, oakleaf and smooth hydrangeas can be planted on the north side of a garden or along the edge of a wooded area.

Hydrangeas are susceptible to few pests and diseases. These diseases may leave the plant with an unsightly appearance, but will not seriously harm or damage the plant. Some common problems that are found on hydrangeas include:

  • Powdery mildew is commonly found on Bigleaf hydrangea growing in shaded and humid conditions.
  • Cultivated species of hydrangea grown in sunny locations may develop fungal leaf spot.
  • Oakleaf hydrangea is susceptible to root rot which can be avoided by planting in well-drained soil.
  • At the end of the growing season, Smooth hydrangea may develop small, orange rust spots.
  • When aphids are spotted on the new growth, wash the plants with an insecticidal soap. If ants are crawling on the plants, there are probably aphids on the undersides of the leaves.
  • Mites appear on the new shoots during hot and dry weather. They damage the new growth, leaving it stunted. Prevent mites by adequately watering the plants.

The intensity of the color of pink and blue hydrangeas is determined by the pH level of the soil. The pink varieties obtain their best color at a soil pH between 6.5 and 7.0. The blue varieties have the best color between a pH of 5.0 and 5.5. Some white hydrangeas do not have any pigment and will turn pink or blue depending on the soil pH. Examples of these white hydrangeas include Rose Supreme, Merritt’s Supreme and Merveille.

How to Dry Hydrangeas

The large and showy hydrangea flower clusters not only create a dramatic effect in the garden, as dried flowers their uses as a decorative touch inside the home are limitless. Dried hydrangeas can be used in flower arrangements, as a table centerpiece or arranged in an attractive wreath.

Hydrangea flowers turn a variety of colors as they age and begin to fade. Bigleaf hydrangeas turn soft shades of blue, purple, rose, violet and green. Panicle and Oakleaf hydrangeas turn pink and rose colors. And, Smooth hydrangeas turn a pale green. Here’s how to preserve hydrangea flowers for craft and decorating:

  • Allow the flowers to dry on the plant until the flowers have a paper-like feel.
  • When the weather is dry and the humidity level is low, cut the stems to the desired length.
  • Remove the leaves and hang upside down or place in a vase in an indoor location that is cool and dry.

When you are looking for a plant to brighten your landscape, consider planting a hydrangea. With their long blooming period, the big and bold blooms can be enjoyed for much of the year. And, after the flowers begin to fade, the blooms can be dried and enjoyed for another year.

Last Updated: June 7, 2012
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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