Deservedly popular, Hydrangeas are easy-care, long-lived, deciduous shrubs with magnificent flowers which show off in gardens, containers or in vases around our living areas. Amazingly versatile, Hydrangeas bloom throughout summer and into fall, providing long-lasting color when many shrubs are already fading. Their flowers come in various shapes, ranging from the big, rounded flower clusters of the Mophead Hydrangeas, to the delicate, flat, lacy flowers of the Lacecap Hydrangeas, or to the pointy, conical flowerheads of the Oakleaf Hydrangeas.
Colors also beguile with deep blues, vibrant pinks, pristine whites, lavender, and rose. Some Hydrangea varieties have the added attraction of changing color, depending on the soil pH. Strongly acidic soils allow these species to produce blue flowers; slightly acidic soils will produce pink flowers. To change the color of your Hydrangea, add aluminum sulfate to the soil to make the flowers bluer or add lime to the soil to make them pinker.
Many Hydrangeas are fragrant and others enjoy a wonderful foliage adding glorious fall color to the landscape. All are charming or glamorous.
Hardy Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood (current year's growth) are safe picks for the New England region as their flowering buds will not be sacrificed to late frost. Panicle Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) and Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) are good selections for the region. Bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), nationwide favorites with their billowy clouds of pink or blue blossoms from summer through fall, generally bloom on last year's wood. However, some cultivars bloom both on new and old growth and flower regardless, since their flower buds are produced not only in the fall but also in spring and summer.
The following is a list of Hydrangeas recognized as proven performers in New England.