The most popular flowering shrub in the world.
Hydrangeas are valued around the globe as endless varieties of flowering shrubs that bloom in spring and are appropriate for the shade garden. The problem is, for many people in the north, the most popular selections of Hydrangea macrophylla (mophead hydrangeas) do not flower. Whether it's poorly timed pruning, late frosts that kill underground flower buds, or early frosts that kill the new growth, so many gardeners are disappointed each year when they get no flowers. "Why didn't my hydrangea bloom?" is one of the most asked questions at garden centers in many parts of the U.S. and Canada.
If you or your customers have had problems, try selections of Hydrangea paniculata, commonly called Pee-Gee or panicle hydrangeas. Not only do they grow in the full, hot sun, but they also flower reliably each summer regardless of climate, or pruning. Spectacular in the landscape, these no-fuss beauties form vase-shaped shrubs that support showy, cone-shaped flowers in mid to late summer. And then the best part is when the evenings start to cool off and those cone-shaped flowers start to drench themselves in shades of pink and red.
As with most popular plants these days, there are a ton of new introductions coming out. Panicle hydrangeas used to be known as back-of-the-border plants. They were tall and grandiose in their stature. Today's new introductions are literally shrinking. Not shrinking in number, but shrinking in size. The latest and greatest keep getting smaller and smaller. If you know these plants or you have been designing with them or growing them for years, you might ask yourself, "Why?". Why do they need to be so short and compact? Why would I want a chrysanthemum-sized version?
It looks better in a pot, they say.
More will fit on the wracks for shipping, they say.
People have smaller yards, they say.
I apologize but have to rant just a little about this.
I think we need some plants to be larger. Maybe not as large as the older selections like 'Tardiva' were, but 4-6' tall and wide is nice sometimes. 4-6' tall plants make perfect hedges. 4-6' tall plants stand out in borders and foundation plantings. 1-2' tall plants might as well be perennials because you'll have to buy 5-7 of them to make a statement in any garden.
Remember, just like a perennial, a shrub can look really nice in a pot, and then still grow a little taller once you plant it. To me, that's the perfect combination. 1-2' tall in a pot at retail, then 4-6' tall after three years. I love that idea! Okay, enough venting...
Can we skip to the GOOD part? Like - what's new?
We have some really beautiful, unique panicle hydrangeas in our mix. Here are a few.
Not the newest, but still one of our favorites, Magical® Candle, was one of the first few introductions from the Kolster/Boot & Dart Co., breeding program in The Netherlands. Dense, cone-shaped flowers are filled with overlapping florets that emerge a luminous, creamy yellow and age to a deep cranberry pink. Candle is the perfect size to separate garden spaces, yet it fits perfectly into a mixed border, foundation planting, or large pot.
New for 2023 - Magical® Lime Sparkle
Lime Sparkle is different. It's not too short to be seen or too tall to hide stuff. The flowers begin in early June as lacy lime green panicles and open up and age throughout the summer to apple green and then celery green with a candy apple red blush once the nights get cooler.
This panicle hydrangea, in our opinion, is a perfect size. Whether you are looking for backbones for a sunny border, or the ultimate, people-height hedge to gently divide a space or keep the neighbors out, Lime Sparkle delivers what many new introductions can not.
New for 2023 - Ruby Snow
Ruby Snow is a sensational new variety, exclusive to the Worry Free® brand of the SynR-G group, whose bright white panicles open in mid-summer. Closer to fall, as the night temperatures cool, each cone-shaped panicle turns ruby-red from the base up, leaving the tips topped in white like a snow cone.
Standing 4' tall, it is a compact form with strong stems, Ruby Snow can be planted in smaller gardens among other flowering shrubs and perennials. Plant in groupings or as exclamation marks along a garden path to draw the eye in, or use it as a low hedge between properties. Who wouldn't want to share a glass of wine over a Ruby Snow fence?