Radio Show: Hankering for Hydrangea
Bounce down any street in Minnesota and you’ll likely meet a lot more smiles now that the weather has finally turned! Oh, I know we could have severe weather but our bodies have been waiting for these warmer temps and our fingers itching to get into the soil!
I’ve been tempted by a couple of hydrangea. ‘Incrediball’ is an apt name for this gorgeous arborescens.
The green to white to green blooms on this baby are an enormous 4 times the normal size. This is a fast growing hydrangea arborescens that will reach 5 feet tall and wide. But don’t expect that the first year. Let it adjust! I’ve read several reviews of ‘Incrediball’ and they were all very good. Hardy to zone 4, Minnesota can rock this plant! The shrub flowers from June into September in sun to part sun. Then enjoy the drying flowers past winter. And here’s another bonus, it doesn’t flop over.
For another beauty, this one from our own Bailey Nurseries here in Minnesota, comes a paniculata named ‘Vanilla Strawberry’.
Hydrangea ‘Vanilla Strawberry’
‘Vanilla Strawberry’ was named the top plant in 2010 by the American Nursery and Landscape Association. It’s flowers start as a milky white then progress to strawberry red a couple of weeks later, staying that color for nearly a month. New flower heads continue opening into late summer, which means you’ll see all three color stages at any one time. The blooms are borne on red stems, creating quite a contrast against the green leaves. ‘Vanilla Strawberry’ can grow to 7 feet tall with a 5 foot spread and flowers from July to September.
If you feel you must have a blue hydrangea, then know you will have to amend the soil from the start and every year thereafter. Not that people don’t do that, but, for me, I’d rather grow a plant that works in the soil I have. The year after ‘Endless Summer’ came out, Master Gardeners were calling it Endless Bummer because it did so poorly. One of the reasons was it’s penchant for more moisture than most hydrangeas need.
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’
Aside from making sure this hydrangea gets plenty of moisture, you need to amend your soil to retain the blue color of the flowers. In Minnesota, most of us have more alkaline soil which turns the flowers pink. For blue, the soil needs to be more acidic. Your soil’s pH must be between 5 and 5.8. It would make a good large container planting. You have more control over the soil. Elemental sulfur is used yearly to keep the flowers blue.