Gardeners usually think of hydrangeas as those rounded shrubs with the softball-sized blue flowers in early summer. However, the “bigleaf” or “mophead” type is the most common in a versatile family of shrubs.
Choices are available that grow anywhere from full sun to full shade and that bloom into fall – not just in June.
- Oakleaf: A U.S. native hydrangea that blooms white or pink in early summer. The flowers are cone-shaped instead of round, and the large, hand-sized leaves turn burgundy in fall.
- Panicle: This type prefers sunnier spots and has large, cone-shaped flowers that morph from white to pink to rusty-rose over three months in late summer to early fall.
- Smooth: Also native to the United States, smooth hydrangeas produce big, white, round flowers that bloom in summer. They’re extremely cold-hardy and grow in sun or shade, including dry-shade settings under big trees.
- Mountain: These look and grow much like bigleaf hydrangeas, but their flower buds are cold-hardier, making them a good choice for cold-climate gardeners whose bigleaf hydrangeas often don’t flower because winter cold killed them.
- Bigleaf and mountain hydrangeas change flower color depending on soil acidity. In acidic soil (pH of 6 or below), they bloom blue. In alkaline soil, they bloom pink.
- Prune early-summer bloomers, such as bigleaf, mountain and oakleaf hydrangeas, immediately after they finish flowering in early summer. Prune summer-blooming smooth and panicle types at the end of winter before new growth begins.
- Some new varieties of bigleaf hydrangeas are rebloomers, meaning they flower in June and again late summer into fall.
- Fertilize hydrangeas in early spring and early fall with an organic-rich, balanced, granular fertilizer.