New Hydrangeas for 2013 (and Beyond!)

The highlight of the annual MSHS Spring at the Inn event (other than meeting and talking with fellow gardeners) was seeing some of the new introductions from Bailey Nurseries Inc. during the plant fashion show. The show included a variety of new plants from honeyberries for fruit lovers to new types of impatiens, calibrachoa and other annuals.

Bailey’s is known for its Endless Summer series of hydrangeas, and presenter Alec Charais assured those of us who love hydrangeas that new ones will be coming along.

Among the new hydrangeas for 2013 is ‘Bobo’, a compact hydrangea with large, white flowers from Bailey Nurseries Inc. Bobo is a squat hydrangea, growing no more than about 3 feet tall and just as wide or even wider. In midsummer, it bursts into bloom with huge, puffy white flowers. As they age, they turn shades of pink. Bobo is a cultivar of Hydrangea paniculata and is considered an easy-care plant. Like most hydrangeas, it likes partial to full sun and consistent watering. It’s important to water regularly especially during the first year to ensure a deep, healthy root system.

strawberry sundae hydrangea

Strawberry Sundae hydrangea

In 2014, Bailey’s will have two more new and different hydrangeas to try. First Editions® ‘Strawberry Sundae’ is a panicle hydrangea perfect for smaller yards. The plant was developed in France and is hardy to USDA Zone 4. Half the size of its relative, First Editions® Vanilla Strawberry™, it has cone-shaped flowers that are white at first but blend to a bright strawberry pink. Like Vanilla Strawberry, it’s a great plant for fresh cut of dried flowers in arrangements.

Bailey’s other 2014 hydrangea is called Bloomstruck™. It 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. Bloomstruck, according to Alec, is “the best of them all.”

Now that’s something to look forward to.

While new plants are exciting, there are many lovely and hardy hydrangeas already on the market. I’ve heard, for example, that the toughest, best bloomer of all hydrangeas for the North is Twist-n-Shout, though it’s not always a popular seller at garden centers. I grow both the standard Annabelle hydrangea and Bella Anna®, a Hydrangea arborescens with a pink flower and a smaller size, but plan to add Twist-n-Shout to my gardens this summer.

Which is your favorite hydrangea?

—Mary Lahr Schier