Wedding gown hydrangea (Pam Erikson/Langley Advance Times)

Wedding gown hydrangea (Pam Erikson/Langley Advance Times)

LANGLEY GREEN THUMB: Hydrangeas re-invented

Local gardening expert explains how growers have created a few key species for small spaces

by Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times

Whenever someone said ‘hydrangea’ to me, I always flashed back to childhood memories of big, round blooms of pink and purple all over massive shrubs that took up the whole side of the house!

While those are still amazing hydrangeas, breeders of this beautiful shrub have listened to the gardening public and come out with lines of truly fabulous, more compact, varieties.

These include the Everlasting series (large mophead blooms on strong shorter stems) and the Double Delights series (most are double lacecap style blooms).

Both of these strains of hydrangeas offer varieties that are compact – growing three to four feet tall and wide – making them exceptional plants for container gardening for those in smaller spaces.

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Most of the Everlasting series bloom on older and new wood, so pruning is very easy.

They like partial sun/partial shade and we have found them to grow best in morning sun, with protection in the afternoon from the harsh heat of summer.

Most of the Double Delights series bloom on new wood and testing in our gardens have shown they can tolerate more sun than most, as long as they are well watered.

Again, they are more compact and great for small gardens and containers.

One of our favourites in the Double Delights series is Wedding Gown, a pure white lacecap that bloomed for us last year from mid-July through to the end of September.

Another big favourite was Stargazer, with purple and white blooms that attracted a lot of attention.

In the Everlasting series, we loved Green Cloud, a celery-green with white eye, that turned deeper shades of red and green as it neared the end of the season; and Amethyst, which starts pink/blue and matures to blends of blues and purples.

Both series of plants offer many selections, so do some research and find the ones that you fall in love with!

One of the main questions we are asked about hydrangeas is when to prune.

This, of course, depends on the variety. But, when you purchase one, it will say whether it blooms on new or old wood, or both. Old wood means branches that have been on the plant since the summer before; new wood means branches that develop in the current season.

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For hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, they normally set new buds for the following year in August/September, so should be pruned in the summer – before that happens.

Pruning them in the winter or early spring will result in low bloom for the following year.

For hydrangeas that bloom on new wood, prune after the current years bloom has finished up to the winter. Do not prune new growth in the spring as it will have the flower buds for the current year. For varieties that bloom on both old and new wood, we would prune only to reduce the size if required – in late summer.

The growers of all these hydrangeas will provide you with a tag on all plants that will tell you what type they are and what is required regarding pruning, light conditions and feeding.

For me personally, I do prefer the more compact varieties as I love to grow in containers around the house and these have proven themselves to me over the last four years to be the most forgiving and hardy hydrangeas for container growing.

– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens

and Perennials and president of the Langley Garden Club

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Everlasting green cloud hydrangea (Pam Erikson/Langley Advance Times)

Everlasting green cloud hydrangea (Pam Erikson/Langley Advance Times)

Everlasting amethyst hydrangea (Pam Erikson/Langley Advance Times)

Everlasting amethyst hydrangea (Pam Erikson/Langley Advance Times)

Pam Erikson is a Langley gardener who specializes in daylilies, but also grows and sells other perennials. (Langley Advance Times files)

Pam Erikson is a Langley gardener who specializes in daylilies, but also grows and sells other perennials. (Langley Advance Times files)

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