Ask Elaine: Varieties of Hydrangeas

Are there hydrangeas at Laurelwood Arboretum? I would like to add some hydrangeas to my garden. They remind me of my grandmother and the plants bloom later in the season.


Dear Barbara,

[su_row][su_column size=”1/2″]My grandmother grew hydrangeas also! They are lovely plants. Great in the garden, good cut flowers, wonderful when dried, and some have beautiful fall foliage colors. The plants have very few insect and disease problems.

We do have hydrangeas at Laurelwood Arboretum. Sadly, our resident deer eat them. We spray deer repellent but our summer rains have decreased the efficiency of the material. You will notice the evidence of deer damage in the photos. However, we are not giving up!  Here are the hydrangea species and locations:

Oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) has leaves that look like red oak, hence the name. It likes moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Loves to be mulched. Sun or part shade. White flowers in August that change to pink and then brown. Gorgeous fall leaf color. Find them near the 2nd Bridge, Cedar Hill and the corner of Hickory Hill.

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) is a clinging vine that can grow to be quite huge – 40 to 60 feet.  It likes moist, fertile, well-drained soil.  Sun or part shade.  Attractive peeling bark.  Fragrant white flowers in August.  We have one growing on an ash tree along Brook Road, adjacent to the 4th Bridge.

Hydrangea arborescens is also called smooth hydrangea. It is one of our native hydrangeas. Popular cultivars include ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Grandiflora.’ It likes moist, fertile, well-drained soil. The plant may bloom for six to eight weeks starting in late summer. The flowers are first green, then white, then green, then tan.  My grandmother grew this plant in her front yard in Jersey City  You can see ‘Annabelle’ in Laurelwood Arboretum near the Upper Greenhouse and along the back edge of the South Lawn.[/su_column] [su_column size=”1/2″]

Hydrangea macrophylla, bigleaf hydrangea, contains a large group of plant cultivars. They like moist, fertile, well-drained soil (have you noticed a trend?). Plant them in sun or part shade. This species of hydrangea can be divided into lacecaps and hortensias. Lacecap hydrangeas can be found on Hickory Hill. A re-blooming lacecap hydrangea called ‘Endless Summer’ can be seen at the south end of Dorothy’s Way.  Hortensias include popular cultivars like ‘Nikko Blue.’  We have a cluster on Brook Road. 

Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), again, likes moist, well-drained soil, sun or part-shade. White flowers in August into September that turn pink. We have two cultivars: ‘Tardiva’ and ‘Grandiflora,’ also called PG. You will find the ‘Tardiva’ on Hickory Hill, near the south end of Dorothy’s Way, and in the South Rock Garden near the stream. PG is located in a garden bed between Brook Road and Dorothy’s Way, near the 4th Bridge.

If you would like to learn more about hydrangeas, their culture, flowering habits, pruning and fertilizer needs, and how to cut and dry the blooms, please attend my lecture at the Knippenberg Center for Education on Sunday, September 17, 2pm, right after the free guided tours at 12:30pm. The program is free for members, $15 for non-members. Thanks for your interest.

Happy gardening!
Elaine Fogerty, Executive Director[/su_column][/su_row]

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