does Strawberry Vanilla have strong stems

jeannette_wi(z4WI)April 3, 2012

The pictures of Strawberry Vanilla are beautiful but I'm wondering if it will be one of those Hydrangea paniculatas that flop. Has anyone grown it long enough to know how strong the stems are?

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Paniculatas, like Vanilla Strawberry, will develop some stiffening of their stems if you allow some of that stem wood to ripen each season. IOW, do not cut back to the ground or a very low level each spring but leave 1/2 to 2/3 the length of the stems in place. Obviously you will need to make some adjustments for winter dieback, if any, but allowing that wood to persist for longer than a single season will provide sufficient time for it to properly ripen or stiffen and be more self-supporting.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 3:28PM
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buttercupia(zone4 IA)

This is a very new introduction from France and it claims to have sturdier stems than the Pinky Winky. Time will tell, and letting the wood grow in thickness is a good way to encourage stiff stems as they become larger. I have two of these and look forward to seeing them grow and bloom.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 3:58PM
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I think the technique of letting the stems be in the spring may definitely work. Just looking at my plant today and the stems that are left from last year are thicker and appear to be stronger. They are leafing out and I wish the weather would hurry up and get warm. =)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 8:52AM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Pinky Winky I believe is supposed to get a bit larger than VS and seems more upright in habit than VS. It will indeed take some time to see mature plants here in the US. And we're talking about starting out with a 5gal and fast forwarding at least 5 years. For example I bought a starter that's only 2ft tall so it will be floppy for quite a few years.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 4:32PM
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The shrub grows upright, but the flowers do droop some as they age. Although the flowers never touch the ground like other hydrangeas and has a great structured, non sloppy look to it. I only light prune in early spring, unlike limelight's I hard prune. I think hard pruning them would result in flopping flowers on the ground. I was lucky a few years ago my local nursery got 10 VS's in 5 gallon buckets in an early promotional release to them. I bought 1 and my sister bought 6 of them. I really like them and would of bought more myself if I had the space. They have very red stems and start blooming right behind my Quickfire's. I have never seen another hydrangea with stems as red as VS. Along with putting off new blooms all the way thru fall for the vanilla strawberry look that I wanted. Mine is close to being full grown and is great hydrangea in my book. Later this year hopefully I will be able to snap a picture of my sisters hedge line of them in bloom.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Ohio, im curious to know what kind of light your VS gets. Im looking to add more hydrangeas to my landscape and Im using this forum to scout out the perfect ones. Lots of great info on here. Thanks a lot!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:17PM
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My sisters are in full sun from about 10am till sunset. Mine gets sun from about 10am till 5pm. Although later in the year butterfly bushes on either side give it more shade. I cut the BB's to the ground in early spring, so not till later in the season do the BB's start providing more shade to the VS. But my sisters seem to be growing at the same rate and look.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:33PM
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How big have yours grown ohio? I am thinking i could put on the corner of the house but i dont want it to overtake everything. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 7:58PM
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My VS is about 4.5-5 foot tall and almost as wide also. I did prune it in the spring, so it was about 6 inches bigger. But I think it will get a little taller in full maturity. I was just at my sisters yesterday and hers are a little smaller in height than my VS. I did however get mine in the ground weeks before hers and I think I baby my VS Along with she spaced them 5 feet apart and they have crashed into each other already. Which is her plan to make a hedge line of them. Hopefully should be a great year for them.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:37AM
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I was at a local nursery over the week and i found a vanilla strawberry! It was the only i had seen in the whole place so i bought it. Its in the ground and i just love it! No blooms yet but the red stems are so pretty! Im new to hydrangeas and im wondering if i even need to prune, seeing as weak stems can be a problem. The VS isnt competing for space so size is a nonissue. Is pruning good for the overall health of the plant? I do know to take out dead or sickly brancges but can i leave the healthy stuff alone? This may be a silly question but does VS bloom on old wood? I cant seem to find that out. Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 1:18PM
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Ditto to previous suggestion from H-Ohio about VS:
LIGHTLY prune in a young years and remove all small twiggy growth from the base in order to create FUTURE strong framework.
I have it now for 4 years in a ground (from an 8" cutting).
Last year it was in 4-4.5' range, equally tall and wide.
This year I did a first major pruning (to 3') and cleaning (to 5 main stems from 8).

Tip: Since it's main attraction, aging blooms, coincides with a period of the most intence heat (end of July-August) try to avoid overhead watering at that time. Otherwise rust-spoted florets in individual panicles may spoil your picture-perfect show)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 2:50PM
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I wish I wasn't too scared to remove twiggy stems to shape 2 yrs ago ~ she would perhaps be gorgeous instead of just pretty. But I so love the red stems & even wish the blooms don't get too large (she looked like a short n'stout tea pot~ had to tie all stems w/ blooms) like my LL's QF's is good enough for me (airy)!!!

This is her 3rd season I'll hard prune & clean to shape! Thnx for tips George!!!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 2:32PM
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I would love for someone to post a picture of one that is pruned correctly. I have two that I bought last Fall. They have leafed out in a very strange manner and I can't imagine what they will look like when (and if) they bloom. They have leaves at the top of the stalks and a few sprouts at the bottom of some, but other than that they are just long woody stems--5 on one and 8 on the other. They had fading blooms when I bought them so I am anxious to see what they will do.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 12:10PM
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