Climbing Hydrangea on tree?

lakemurrayfish(7a SC)March 11, 2012

Last fall I purchased number of things at the Native Plant Society sale. I am excited about the climbing hydrangea but after reading about it's robust growth habits I am uncertain where to put it. I don't want it to climb on the garage, house or deck, since we need to paint or powerwash regularly. I saw a mention online where it can grow on a tree. Would that eventually kill the tree? We do have one tree right in the yard that would be in sight, get good sun etc. Another tree option is a healthy pine, near edge of the woods, where we could still see the flowers. The only other option is at the water's edge there is a stone retaining wall, with rip rap going to the waters edge. It's not MY wall, although it does cross our property line. I think a flowering vine would enhance the ugly wall. But I wouldn't want to be responsible for damage to the wall. The neighbor isn't in residence. And because we've had some previous disagreements about the wall being on my property, I don't want to ask. If it won't do much harm, I'd just go ahead and give it a try.

Any thoughts or suggestions of where to place this beauty ?

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First off, I find it unnerving that someone selling at a "Native Plant Society sale" is calling it climbing hydrangea!?! It creates a false aire of nativity (since the unresearched will assume both showier-flowering Asian species are American natives.)

That rant aside, I presume your "climbing hydrangea" is Decumaria barbara (aka woodvamp).

This vine is better in partial sun to partial shade (or on the north-facing side of a tree). Avoid planting it on the pine, since the pine prospers in natural soil without lots of wetness and the vine is better in moist to wet soils.

And yes, avoid any potential riff-raff with the neighbor and property line stuff for sure.

The other tree (the one you say is "in sight") may be the better choice, as long as it's already tall and the trunk is open/exposed for the bottom 15 feet to help get the vine established over these first five to 10 years.

You can let woodvamp grow like a groundcover, but it won't bloom gorwing that way. Vertical growth (hormone production and distribution in the plant) causes flower production.

One last idea is to go get a 20-30 foot wood "telephone" pole and erect it on your property specifically for the woodvamp vine. Doubt it's practical. :(

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 10:03AM
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Dear gusolie,
I'm sure you must feel better after taking that little snort at the Native Plant Society; however, I must say that if you took a moment to investigate _Decumaria barbara_ on the Internet, you would find that one of its common names is "native climbing hydrangea." Why, then, should there any more horticultural confusion than normal--among the researched and the unresearched? Are the researched and the unresearched a subset of the washed and the unwashed?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 10:36AM
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From the professional perspective...yes, if you have a large tree with fairly smooth bark a climbing hydrangea would be an interesting addition to your landscape. At maturity blossoms cascade from the tree top. An interesting sight.

No comment on your neighbor/wall problem. As you know, the climbing hydrangea clings to a support or rock wall by rootlets, similar to ivy. This network of roots is very visible during the dormant period. Some time ago I visited a large estate on the Hudson River cared for by a dedicated gardener. There was a granite stone wall about 4' in height surrounding the property. Much to my amazement this gardener had carefully trained one climbing hydrangea single branch along the top of the flat wall to a distance of at least two football fields. A labor of love covering many years of trimming and training and an example of how some of us in the horticultural world challenge ourselves with interesting projects.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 12:11PM
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lakemurrayfish(7a SC)

Thanks for your thoughtful answers. I'm excited to try the tree.
I mostly have container plants, so I'm really steppin out by setting this lovely free.

hmmm, now what to do with the Pipevine? That can be my next post.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 8:48PM
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