The Garden Plant of the Month for June is Hydrangea
Hydrangea is a garden classic that offers so many options from ground cover all the way through to trees – yes really! There is also a wide range of flower types offering a choice of styles to suit every situation. But if I had to say why hydrangea is such a global favourite, it’s the fact that success is (virtually) guaranteed.
A favourite – and easy to see why
Let’s take a moment to look at the characteristics that makes this a number one plant. First up, bags of blooms are sure to show every year. Next, the newer varieties have an even longer flowering period (look out for Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’). Hyrdrangeas are also highly resistant to disease and need little care to keep on performing year after year – but do keep them properly watered in dry spells. This means getting out with the hose and soaking the roots if it hasn’t rained properly for a while. They are happy in a wide range of soil types, changing flower colour depending on the pH of the soil.
The ‘Big One’
Hydrangea macrophylla (meaning large or long leaved) is probably the best known of them all. One of the most recognizable of garden plants, they occur naturally in China and Japan but are known throughout the world now as a result of the dedication of gardeners and plant breeders.
Pride of place
Put your hydrangea where you can enjoy it to the max. Make sure it is in full sun or partial shade. Try a planting combo of Choisya ternata, Sarcocca confusa and the white blooming Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ for a cool calming effect right through the warmer months. ‘Annabelle’ is also great with Virburnum davidii under trees, its big, white flower balls really do make a statement. The two main categories of Hydrangea are the descriptively known ‘mopheads’ (Hortensias) and lacecaps, but whichever you opt for, you are sure to get a spectacle to be proud of.
Hydrangeas on the patio
Smaller varieties of hydrangea can be grown in pots, for example Hydrangea paniculata ‘Silver Dollar’ (an RHS AGM holder). This is a compact, dense plant which produces flowers that are white, but which turn pink through the flowering season (July to September). At a maximum height of 1.25m they are perfect for the space-challenged.
Hydrangeas up the wall?
Climbing hydrangeas are anomalies as they actually thrive in the kind of shaded and inhospitable locations in which most other plants would wither. Interestingly this fact is reflected in the name of one species - Hydrangea anomala subsp petiolaris, also known as the climbing hydrangea. The aerial roots of this plant will cling onto walls or fences. Flowering is profuse with masses of lacy white flowers appearing in late spring/early summer. This hydrangea can also provide ground cover as it will happily grow along the ground if given nothing to climb.