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Re: ..now hydrangeas

My experience has been that the macrophyllas end up dying almost to the ground each winter and while they come back, they rarely bloom. My 'Annabelle' does great in the shade garden. The oakleaf hydrangeas have been perfectly hardy, but they are a deer magnet.
Cathy, west central IL, z5b
On Wednesday, February 26, 2003, at 11:35 AM, Kitty wrote:

Personally I'm somewhat new to hydrangeas. Killed a tiny Hydrangea
macrophylla `Tricolor' years back then got my first real one 2yrs ago,
H. mac. 'Lilacina' (bloomed for months last year). I discovered the
story behind 'Hobella' only while searching for a source.

Other folks on this list will have more experience with hydrangeas, but
they will mostly live south of you. I'm in Zone 5a, so any experience
our Display Gardens or I have had might be of more benefit to you. I'll
tell you some of the things I've found out in recent years.

Around here (Ft. Wayne, IN) when you mention Hydrangeas, people only
think of Mopheads, big globose flowerheads. I prefer Lacecaps, because
they are daintier and not weighed down. Most Mopheads and Lacecaps you
come across will be macrophylla (mac) or serrata (ser) cultivars. And
sometimes mac or ser will be unclear because the cultivar might be from
a time when serratas were considered part of the macrophyllas, so it's
possible to see it listed either way. Generally, by today's naming, I
have found most macs are a tad heartier than most sers, but both are
worth a try. Last year I bought Hydrangea serrata bBluebird', as it is
already doing well in our Display Gardens.

But macs and sers aren't the end of the story. Your bAnnabelle' is
neither; she is an arborescens and hardy to Z4. She's tough and full of
vitality and easy to grow so of course she's often suggested. But I find
her too blousy for my taste. You don't come across too many other
arborescens cultivars, though you could try the species which is a
lacecap (I think) - I'm not sure of Annabelle's lineage. Then there is
H. quercifolia, Oakleaf H. I just got one of those last year too - hope
it makes it through this rough winter. The flowers are beautiful, but
it's the leaves that are to die for. I've seen it listed hardy to Z4,
but not all references agree. I think it requires other considerations
like humidity. I think Dirr wrote something extensive on its
requirements - will have to look for it.

Oakleaf Hydrangea is a species that has flowers in panicles like the
species H. paniculata (pan). These are also hardy to Z4 and there are
quite a few cultivars to choose from. Our CES hort educator strongly
suggests Panicle Hydrangeas in our area. We (MGs) grew H. pan bPink
Diamond' for sale last year and they were very vigorous. H. pan
bTardiva' is another strong grower that is readily available. You may
also have seen Tree Hydrangeas. This is usually H. paniculata
bGrandiflora', sometimes called the Pee Gee (p.g. = pan gran) - this
too is hardy to Z4. Other panicle Hydrangeas can be trained into tree
forms, too, to as much as 10-15 ft in height.

Another species, H. aspera (lacecaps), has a few readily available
cultivars and H. aspera bSargentii' can grow to 10ft+ and is hardy to
Z4, but H. aspera grandiflora bVillosa' is rated only to Z6 - with
extra protection, though, I'm sure it could be grown to Z5. Don't forget
Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, the Climbing Hydrangea, it is also
hardy to Z4.

The important thing to consider is how to grow them. I have a long list
of cultivars that have been growing in our Terrace Garden on the CES
property very successfully for several years now - I'll try to remember
to post it when I get home. This Terrace is a very protected site, but
with a reasonable amount of sunshine. bAnnabelle' has been a little
"too happy" there. She got so huge we recently dug her out, potted up 20
divisions, and put a healthy-sized portion back in the hole.

For helpfull culture info go to:
Hydrangeas Plus growing tips:

Also check out their entire site for gorgeous varieties. Greer Gardens
also has a large selection of hydrangeas and they send good qulaity
shrubs. Interestingly, though, I have recently found some special
varieties, some even quite rare, at my local Lowe's - a 3gal pot for

Another helpful article I found discusses hydrangeas best suited for
Minnesota. If they grow well in MN, surely they'll do well in Z5b! Go

Hydrangeas hardy in Minnesota:

So, you see, there's more than bAnnabelle' out there. She's just the
safe choice. If you're willing to adjust for a plant's requirements just
a little, you can grow a whole lot more of these lovely shrubs in Zone
5b. H. mac bNikko Blue' shouldn't be too difficult for you, perhaps all
you need do is find a more protected spot or make adjustments to the
soil. You make Nikko happy; he'll make you happy.

If you have weeds, you don't have enough plants.

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