Pinky Winky v. Quickfire

literatejo(z5b OH)September 29, 2009

I can't make up my mind. I love the color graduation on the Pinky Winky, but I want the longer bloom time of Quickfire. So, how do they compare? Are we talking a full month more of blooms, or just a week? Also, if you're inclined to give opinions, what can I expect as far as shape in a mature plant?

This year I discovered I LOVE paniculatas; planted 3 Limelights in the Spring that started blooming 3 weeks later, and have been going gangbusters since! Now it's the backyard's turn to share the love. Thanks for any guidance!


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I'll be glad to share my observations of how my QF and PW performed in my garden this year. They were planted from 3 gallon containers mid to end of last summer and are growing in some pretty heavy clay soil. Both exhibited similar growth rates. QF had a bit better form, but that was because I prematurely cut off some PW canes thinking they did not survive the winter and it was planted in the dead of summer. I have no complaints about the growth and shape of either. QF had more blooms, but PW was nice and full of blooms also.

Quick Fire: Started to open her buds in mid-June. Flowers were fully opened by the third week in June and by July 4, the transition to pink was fully under way. It was absolutely gorgeous during this phase. By the third week of July, the white was completely gone and it was in the dusty pink phase and still very pretty. During the month of August, the pink faded somewhat to a more drab color that I was not as thrilled with. As of today, the flowers are dried and will likely remain on the shrub until I remove them next spring. QF flowers are a little more rounded and looked more like a lace cap on my young shrub. I liked that look very much.

Pinky Winky: Flowers started to open in mid-July. It started showing pink on the bottom petals at the end of July to beginning of August while the white petals on the top continued opening. It was about 1/2 pink and 1/2 white by mid-August. The pink progressed nicely and by the end of August, flowers were all pink except for a bit of white at the tips. During Sept., the pink changed to a beautiful merlot color that remains as of today. I had one late blooming stem, so as a nice contrast, I still have one large flower in the 1/2 pink, 1/2 white stage which looks great surrounded by the other merlot panicles. The panicles are cone shaped with a lacy look. Here is a picture from today.

Now, all that said, choosing a favorite is a very personal thing, just like choosing a paint color for a new room. There are things I like about both shrubs and I would hate to part with either one. They are both care free, easy to grow, hardy hydrangeas. For me though, if I had to choose just one, it would be Pinky Winky. I liked it so much that I added another. Which ever one you choose, you really can't go wrong.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 7:17PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

I see that you are in my zone! Carol, I have both and I would go with Quick Fire. Simply for the reasons that the local bambi really "enjoyed" munching on my PW but not the QF, and that QF blooms earlier than PW, which I think is quite important for zone 5b that has a short growing season.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 10:14PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

My experience...

Pinky Winky seems to cascade more due to the full flowers. With that said it has more dramatic blooms. As I recall it started blooming mid-July.

Quickfire has a good tight uniform habit, I prune stragglers in late winter. I have 6 of them and they are all consistent. Blooms started mid-June. They are very very dark pink right now. There are a few late white blooms.

Personally I prefer the more "open" look of the bloom on the quick fire and the more "closed" habit of the plant itself.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 8:11PM
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I'm grateful for all the input on both plants ... I have prep'd a hole for yet another H paniculata for season 2010 beside QF, which is my fav!!!

Unlike Macgyver's ... QF in my zone progressed into the deep red-brick & kept the color for most of Sept ... just these last few days did she start to progress into the duller dusty phase, as the colder, wetter days of Fall started.

Like Whass, I like the tight & upright habit of QF & the smaller, rounder, lacier panicles.

I don't own PW & wish she could be one with all the wonderful qualities of QF for the row of assorted H.p. I'm trying to achieve ... on top of my retaining wall bed, where I dug up 2 clumps of Lady Duff Peonies ... BTW Ostrich - I've only had one baby Bambi, inadvertently separated from his family that hopped into my fenced yard ... I think I'm safe, but would welcome a visit, for a photo-op!!! LOL Â;)

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 12:12PM
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literatejo(z5b OH)

Thank you everyone for such well-rounded opinions! It's those little details that you can't get from a catalog or plant tag that really help make the decision. I guess I'm going shopping this weekend -- hope I can find a great deal!

Carol (in Canton)

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 4:04PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

Ooooooooooh! For those of you in NE Ohio, Gale's in Maple Heights is having a HUGE sale - I bought a 3 gallon Pinky Winky for $6.25!!!!!!!! It's basically 75% off of the regular price. They have tons of other shrubs and perennials on sale too.... so go and take a look!

P.S. Sadly they did not have other paniculatas on sale.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 7:30PM
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Hello Ostrich, did they have any other hydrangeas at that price? Any Quick Fires???

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 10:40PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

No, hydrangeasnohio, they only had a few Pinky Winky on sale.... and the other paniculatas were GONE! Sorry...

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 10:56PM
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