I HAVE SAID IT BEFORE (BUT AM INCLINED TO REPEAT MYSELF): I prefer white Hydrangea to blue ones. And in this hottest, driest summer I know another reason why: The clean white blooms of my various Hydrangea paniculata freshen the place up a bit. And they just get better as the season wears on, like this.
September 13, 2015
a hydrangea primer, with chanticleer’s eric hsu
‘THEY BRIGHTEN our days just as summer heat and humidity become tiresome,” reads a line in the new book “The Art of Gardening,” from Chanticleer..
August 27, 2017
best hydrangeas of now and tomorrow, with dan hinkley
IF SOMEONE SAYS HYDRANGEA, many of us first conjure classic images of big blue moptops, or maybe the paniculata types with their conical white-to-pink-to-tan flowers...
I adore the blue hydrangeas–but I planned my wedding around these, and I got married in my yard. I carried them in my bouquet, had them all over the yard as decorations, in arrangements, just everywhere. Who says we have to choose?
Thanks for this. We just moved into a house that has a HUGE paniculata by the front door. It has gotten so overgrown that it is blocking the view from the door and part of the walkway. I was afraid to prune it, but saw your previous post on how/when to do it.
My question is: do I have to wait until spring to give it a pruning? And can I be really aggressive with how far back to go? I won’t be too heartbroken if it doesn’t bloom well next year. It just needs to be tamed at this point, however I don’t want to kill it.
Love the blog! Susan in Atlanta
Welcome, Susan. The paniculatas bloom on new wood, so you can be brutal with them; I have rejuvenated some pretty far down when they just got way too big. Eventually, though, you do end up with the dilemma of having varying ages of wood (very old, a year or two old, new) to make up the architecture of the thing, at least for awhile — so it’s not a plant that’s as obvious about what to cut (to my eye) as some others.
Hard to explain in words…but when pruning something of course you try to make a nicely shaped new (smaller) architecture, leaving branches with buds pointing in the general direction you want it to fill out into, and with H. paniculata that means sometimes you have an odd lot of branches doing the underpinning job (not all the same age as I say). Which is OK, just a little odd-looking when the plant’s bare.
I would be a chicken and cut back partway this fall just to recover your view (though your winters aren’t as severe as mine, which is why I hate pruning after midsummer here in case new growth is induced by my actions) and do the rest in late winter to early spring. The reason I like to do early spring is because I can see where the buds are then — and shape accordingly, trying to make my cuts just above an one that’s facing in the right direction (where I intend the new growth to fill in).
I love all hydrangeas! I even grow macrophyllas in large pots and keep them in unheated garage over the winter. Little Lamb is becoming a ewe and thus needs hard pruning in spring to keep her small. Have you tried Blue Billow or Bluebird? Lacecaps, they have bloomed for me in protected spots. I love White Moth and Unique as they are lacier. Endless Summer bloomed on old wood but not on new,