What a Hydrangea Wants

Bloomstruck blooms in colors from cream/pink to deep purple.  Bailey Nurseries photo

Bloomstruck blooms in colors from cream/pink to deep purple. Bailey Nurseries photo

Get together several hundred avid gardeners and a line-up of experts, and the questions and conversations start flying. Yesterday, MSHS hosted its third annual Spring at the Inn. This annual luncheon or dinner followed by a plant fashion show is a must-do event for many garden clubs and excited gardeners. What a great way to welcome spring!

Bailey’s Nurseries in Newport, MN, provides the plants and hosts were Bobby Jensen and Laura Betker of KARE-11 and Grow with KARE for the lunch, and Bobby and Heidi Heiland of Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens for the dinner. (Lots of wonderful individuals and garden centers helped sponsor the event, too.)

Alec Charais of Bailey’s was especially excited to show off the new Bloomstruck™ hydrangea, a reblooming macrophylla hydrangea, that’s the new jewel in the crown of the Endless Summer series of hydrangeas. Bloomstruck is a combination of the original Endless Summer hydrangea and Twist-n-Shout®, a lacecap hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘PIIHM-I’ (PPAF)) that blooms pink in alkaline soil and blue in acid soil. Alec had lots of Bloomstruck plants  available for perusal and it was amazing how many different colors it could bloom in — from a very lovely cream and pink to a deep, deep blue-purple, which the folks at Bailey’s called “blurple.”

But macrophylla hydrangeas will not work in every site or every soil, Alec was quick to point out. This led to a great discussion of what a hydrangea wants (needs?) to perform well in your garden. First, a hydrangea will languish in sand and extreme heat, so don’t even go there. They love a rich, humus-y, organic soil and they do best under a canopy of trees that provide partial or dappled shade. They like consistent moisture and do best if mulched well the first couple of years they are in the ground. “In the summer, the mulch is for moisture retention; in the winter, it’s for winter protection.”

Hydrangeas look great in large, dramatic containers. Bailey Nurseries photo

Hydrangeas look great in large, dramatic containers.
Bailey Nurseries photo

Once established in the right site, a macrophylla hydrangea that’s zone hardy will perform well. Heidi — who has planted her share of hydrangeas over the years — added one other recommendation. Plant the crown of the hydrangea somewhat deep. This will protect the crown, which is what the hydrangea grows from in case a weed whacker gets too close or a winter is especially cold.

What to do if you love hydrangeas but don’t have a good spot for them? Plant them in containers! You can often overwinter containers by heeling them into the ground or keeping them in a cool garage.

What’s your favorite hydrangea?