When it comes to lush and romantic blooms on a large scale, hydrangeas rank with peonies in terms of their arresting visual beauty in the garden. But, while herbaceous peonies die to the ground by the end of each autumn, hydrangeas are unsurpassed among flowering shrubs. Each year several new varieties of hydrangeas burst onto the gardening scene, complete with promises of sturdier stems to support the ever-larger heads, more flowers per plant, or colours that include white, green, pink, red, or a combinations of hues.
Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea, for example, features tri-coloured 10-inch blooms that are a blend of vanilla and strawberry, turning to a rich strawberry-red colour that lasts from three to four weeks.
Little Lime Hydrangea, a new dwarf selection that is one-third the size of Limelight Hydrangea, produces vast numbers of blooms that are about six to eight inches across. The name Incrediball, of course, suggests what is perhaps the largest bloom of any of the hydrangeas on today's market -- up to 12 inches across.
Owen Vanstone, of Vanstone Nurseries in Portage la Prairie, highly recommends the Incrediball Hydrangea.
Another variety is Invincibelle Spirit, which promises blooms that will emerge bright and hot pink.
There is a certain mystery to hydrangeas, however, and it lies within the area of care and maintenance.
One of the most commonly asked questions among gardeners at this time of year is, "Should I prune my hydrangea"?
The most common types of hydrangea available in our growing zone are: the mophead (Hydrangea macrophylla var.
The most popular species is the macrophylla, which means "big leaf." It produces the mophead blooms that are globular or rounded in shape and six to eight inches wide -- mostly showy, infertile flowers arranged on the outside and a small number of fertile flowers in the interior. Because the flowers are mostly sterile, they are not pollinated and do not produce fruit and seed, so the flower heads last a very long time. Examples of the mophead type of hydrangea include Hydrangea arborescens (Annabelle, Incrediball and Invincibelle Spirit) and the Endless Summer collection, whose latest entry is Bella Anna.
The lacecap variety features a flattened flower cluster with an inner ring of small-sized, fertile flowers surrounded by an outer ring of large, showy flowers.
When it comes to an early blooming time, Philip Ronald, of Jeffries Nursery in Portage la Prairie, recommends Quickfire. Another variety that is making more of an appearance at the garden centre is the climbing hydrangea (H.
The next step to identifying and caring for your hydrangea is to determine whether it blooms on new or old wood -- or both. For example, the Endless Summer hydrangea, discovered by plantsman Michael Dirr at Bailey Nurseries in Minnesota, has pink or blue blooms (depending on soil acidity) and blooms on new wood of the current season and old wood of the previous season.
Pruning should be done as soon as flowering is finished, prior to flower bud formation for the following year.
In the spring, wait until new leaves have fully expanded before cutting any dead-looking stems to the ground -- they may not be dead. The easiest hydrangeas to prune are those that bloom on new wood -- the Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea arborescens cultivars. Garden Heliotrope features beautiful clusters of fragrant purple flowers at the ends of the stems from late spring to early fall, which are most effective when planted in groupings. Garden Heliotrope is an herbaceous annual bedding plant with an upright spreading habit of growth.


Garden Heliotrope will grow to be about 18 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 18 inches. This species is not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets. Pixwell Gooseberry is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth.
This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. Noa Mega Magenta Calibrachoa is covered in stunning violet trumpet-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from late spring to early fall.
Noa Mega Magenta Calibrachoa is a dense herbaceous annual bedding plant with a trailing habit of growth, eventually spilling over the edges of hanging baskets and containers. Noa Mega Magenta Calibrachoa will grow to be about 8 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches. Million Bells Crackling Fire Calibrachoa is clothed in stunning orange trumpet-shaped flowers with peach overtones and red centers at the ends of the stems from late spring to early fall.
Million Bells Crackling Fire Calibrachoa is a dense herbaceous annual bedding plant with a trailing habit of growth, eventually spilling over the edges of hanging baskets and containers. Million Bells Crackling Fire Calibrachoa will grow to be about 10 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 18 inches. White Yellow Eye Marguerite Daisy features beautiful white daisy flowers with yellow eyes at the ends of the stems from early summer to early fall, which are most effective when planted in groupings.
White Yellow Eye Marguerite Daisy is an herbaceous annual bedding plant with an upright spreading habit of growth.
White Yellow Eye Marguerite Daisy will grow to be about 18 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 18 inches. Fame Pink Star Petunia is covered in stunning pink trumpet-shaped flowers with rose stripes at the ends of the stems from mid spring to mid fall. Fame Pink Star Petunia will grow to be about 8 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches.
Cinderella White Lisianthus features showy white cup-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from early to late summer. Cinderella White Lisianthus is an herbaceous annual bedding plant with an upright spreading habit of growth. This annual bedding plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should not require much pruning, except when necessary, such as to remove dieback. Cinderella White Lisianthus will grow to be about 18 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches. MiniFamous Perfect White Calibrachoa is bathed in stunning white trumpet-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from late spring to early fall. MiniFamous Perfect White Calibrachoa is a dense herbaceous annual bedding plant with a trailing habit of growth, eventually spilling over the edges of hanging baskets and containers.
MiniFamous Perfect White Calibrachoa will grow to be about 14 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 14 inches.
Their large showy blooms show from midsummer to fall and evolve in colour as the season changes.
Flowers start out green-white but take on pinkish tones by fall -- great for a small garden space or even a container.


Their blooms start out lime-green, change to pure snowy white, and then fade to shades of pale green.
Again, if you're not sure, it's essential you simply do nothing until the plant begins blooming. Failure to bloom (always distressing) results when new flower buds forming at the tips of stems in late summer are pruned off.
Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition. Trim off the flower heads after they fade and die to encourage more blooms late into the season. Although it's not a true annual, this plant can be expected to behave as an annual in our climate if left outdoors over the winter, usually needing replacement the following year. It requires an evenly moist well-drained soil for optimal growth, but will die in standing water. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage. This fast-growing annual will normally live for one full growing season, needing replacement the following year.
Although it's not a true annual, this fast-growing plant can be expected to behave as an annual in our climate if left outdoors over the winter, usually needing replacement the following year. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies and bees to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 15 years.
It is a good choice for attracting hummingbirds and bees to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It is a good choice for attracting hummingbirds to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. But, if not, your best bet is to exercise patience until the plant begins blooming so you can see the shape and colour of the inflorescence -- key to identifying your hydrangea. Others include the incomparable Limelight and its dwarf selections, Little Lime and Little Lamb, as well as Bombshell, Pinky Winky, Vanilla Strawberry and Quickfire. Removing the spent blooms of the first flower flush is essential for the production of flower buds on the new growth.
Hard pruning to six to eight inches above the ground will encourage long stems on older plants and giant blooms. It features an abundance of magnificent salmon berries in early summer, which are excellent for making jams and jellies. This is a self-pollinating variety, so it doesn't require a second plant nearby to set fruit.



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