Does anyone grow Hydrangeas in zone 5?

AdamM321(MA z5/6)April 17, 2005


I am about to purchase Hydrangeas. I love them, but the 'one' that I previously bought has hardly ever bloomed. Even though I am on the edge of zone 6, the past few winters sure seems like a zone 5.

I am thinking of getting Endless Summer, which I hear good things about...blooming on new wood. Also an oakleaf hydrangea called 'Snow Queen' which is supposed to be hardy to zone 5, and an 'Annabelle' hydrangea, which I see a lot of people around here have success with. I was thinking about getting a paniculata 'Kyushu', but I am having doubts it is what I want.

Anyone have an input or experience?



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Definitely get Endless Summer. Its a sure thing!

When I asked GW about the Oakleafs and hardiness I was told they are not problematic like the mopheads. I am planning on getting Oakleaf "Pee Wee". I am also looking for Oakleaf 'Little Honey'. Annabelle is fine for this area, but I think there are better choices. She flops a lot, but its a look. Not bad. I drive by a good looking Tardiva that makes me want one of those too.

check out the zone info here. There are some other Annabelle-like varieties too that may do better.

Here is a link that might be useful: russell's deciduous shrubs

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 10:00PM
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The Hydrangeas Forum has quite a lot of information. Try asking your question there as well.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 12:37AM
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'Kuyshu' is far superior over 'Tadiva', in my opinion.
Kuyshu flowers has less fertile florets and almost resemble PG's flowers in its tightness, while Tardiva's flowers are much looser.
Also, overall Tadiva has much more loose/open habit, while Kuyshu is more tight and upright.
Here are the pictures of Tardiva in a shrub form and Kuyshu in a tree form. Neither picture show whole beauty of the plants, but you might got an idea.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 12:56AM
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mscarlet(z5 MA)

Adam I grow Endless Summer and LOVE it...I also have a conical shape hydrangea that is enormous and was here when I bought the house. It does wonderful in this clay soil I have. Last year I planted the Endless Summer which thrived all summer long and performed as wonderfully as everyone said it would. I also planted a lace cap hydrangea that hardly did anything at all. I am not sure it has made it through the winter. I see now new growth on it while the Endless Summer is already budding out...

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 12:59AM
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My tree-form Annabelle has been thriving for years in zone 4. Endless Summer is being sold in local nurseries - the tag says it will grow in zone 4 also.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 2:59PM
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We have Hydrangea anomala petiolaris (climbing hydrangea), 2 Hydrangea quercifolia (Oak Leaf), 2 "Annabelles", 2 PeeGee stanadards, a Nikko Blue, 2 Toyko Delights, and a varigated form with blue flowers. The first 4 varieties listed are rock solid hardy. I love the PeeGees and the Annabelles!

The last 3 are problematic and I'm learning how to massage them into bloom. You're absolutely right that the past two winters have been quite harsh (2003-4 was brutal for us). Last year we protected the Toyko Delights. Lo and behold! they are looking promising and I have hopes for the pretty flowers. Nikko and her varigated cousin didn't fare so well, I fear. The lesson is clear to me; I will have to provide them with protection if I wish to have any reliability in performance from them.

I'll keep you posted as the season progresses. Do a search for hayseedman's wintering tips. He is a wonderful source of information, as are many other devotees of the Hydrangea forum.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 4:03PM
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Valyias(z5b MA)

I have an Oakleaf Hydrangea that was planted last fall as is coming back just fine. I also have a Nikko Blue that was in pretty rough shape when planted and after and early struggle seems to be getting a foothold. Bear in mind that the NIkko blue is up against the south side of our house in what I like to call the "zone 6 garden".

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 7:13PM
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gata(z5a NH)

I have Annabelle. It does fine here. Purchased a bareroot Endless Summer from Fedco. It arrived in mid April already leafing out. I planted it right away and crossed my fingers. Two subsequent frosts nipped the emerging leaves, but it is putting out others, furhter down the stalks so I am hoping it will pull through. Also picked up a PeeGee at one of the marts last year and it made it through the winter fine. I am expecting a Hydrangea quercifolia 'Sikes Dwarf' to arrive next week.
Best of luck with yours.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 9:36PM
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Annabelle is very reliable in z5 and is knockout in the shade and flowers well. I love the H. quercifolias -- snow queen is the best choice, or pee wee if you can find it. Other favorites include Limelight (many awards), Endless Summer, and Kyushu. I grow the golden-leafed oakleaf hydrangea, Little Honey, it's beautiful but dies back in the winter and will not flower. Grow it for the foliage alone -- butter yellow.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 9:37PM
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I have 2 Tardiva here in Strafford County, NH and like the shrubbiness of it and the lacy flourettes v. the tree varieties. One is coming back just fine, and the other is 'late' to say the least. Not sure what it's doing...just taking its sweet time, I guess cuz a scratch-test proved it's still green under there, and it IS producing new growth. These two were purchased last September (late for putting a newbie in the ground), and are about 4' tall each.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 2:43PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)


Thanks again for all the input and the photos. I ended up getting a small Annabelle Hydrangea that will take a few years to get to a decent size I suppose. A 'Samantha' and oakleaf hydrangea from NEWFS, and an 'Endless Summer' bought locally, which already has blooms on it, but was the most expensive for a 1 gallon size.

I also bought two 'All Summer Beauty' hydrangeas for $4. a piece from a company that sells plugs. They were pretty good sizes and one has blooms on it. For that price, I thought they might make good container plants for the summer even if they didn't make it over the winter, although they were said to be hardy to zone 5.

Still planning on a paniculata purchase, just haven't decided on which one yet.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 3:22AM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi again,

I did finally plant the Endless Summer hydrangea and I have to say I am impressed. It took off as soon as it hit the ground and the blooms became gigantic with new branches and buds in a short 2 week period. The "All Summer Beauty' has gorgeous white centered to start gradually all turning a pretty pink. Very nice. I just hope it overwinters. Should these be brought indoors for the winter?

I am noticing brown spots on the oakleaf hydrangea leaves and think it must be a moisture problem. Anyone have this problem with oakleaf hydrangea?


    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 6:00AM
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Alice Johannen

Thanks for asking that question, Adam (I missed it the first time around and am now catching up since you updated us). I'm looking for good shade plants and have missed my old hydrangea. Looks like I'll be shopping this weekend!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 9:35AM
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There are a number of mopheads that should bloom reliably for you. 'Endless Summer', of course. But also 'Penny Mac', 'Dooley', 'Decatur Blue', 'Oak Hill' and 'David Ramsey'. (I think Dirr says that 'David Ramsey' may be identical to one of the other varieties. Can't remember which one.) I have 'ES', 'PM' and 'Dooley' --just planted. Any of these should bloom on new wood and guarantee you flowers. (Unfortunately, I think they all look pretty much alike in bloom.)

And I fell in love with Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake'. There's a link below if you're interested...


Here is a link that might be useful: H. q 'Snowflake'

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 10:33AM
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My Nikko Blues were absolutely gorgeous three years ago--and nothing since. I'm quite sure it was late spring freezes that have caused the bloom-less summers, so I've been looking for any alternatives for zone 5 growers. There's an article in the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, July 22, 2006 that's got my attention. (it costs $2.95 to download it from the archives) I'm going to try his unconventional ideas--I've got nothing to loose, at this point! Wish me luck!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 5:25PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I enjoy H. Kyushu as well as two 'Limelight' plants. No oakleaf hydrangea has survived for me however, even with burlap and leaf protection.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 7:26PM
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Rebecca & gardenbug many thanks for reviving this thread!!! I have a 16 y/o Nikko that bloomed for me only 3 or 4 times over the years so I shy'd away from H altogether and just concentrated on all the other perennials I tend in my several patches. I ran into Tardiva last year at H Depot and the H bug got me!!! 'Did a search in this forum and got enlightened and tremendously helped by very generous aficionados.

Rebecca, Hayseedman's overwintering thread will be very helpful - do a search in this forum and you might have the blooms you have been waiting for, these past years.

The 2 Tardivas I planted in Fall'05 survived Winter w/o protection & bloomed beautifully this year. Thrilled by them, I added 2 ES, 2 F&E, 3 Big Smile (lacecaps), a Kyushu (tree form) 1 Little Lamb, 1 Purple Tiers (serrata) 1 Little Elf - I'm planning for Angel's Blush in '07.

I didn't think that H quercifolia would be hardy for z5 - I have a shady spot and am thinking of Blue Billow (highly recommended byEgo45) or 'Alice' a quercifolia - would anyone have her & share joys or woes? She has such beautiful brilliant Fall colors (pic in M Dirr's H bk) would she be z5 hardy?

Many thanks -

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 10:39PM
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H. quercifolia is somewhat challenging plant for z5.
The most of the problems will occur in a first few years.
Once established it will be relatively trouble free plant, though not a reliable bloomer. After all it's a z7-8 (NC, GA) native plant.
First, it need 2-3 years in ground to become fully established. Being technically root hardy to z5 it still need very thick layer of mulch and burlap wraping in a first couple of winters. Spring/early summer planting is highly recommended for z5-6.
Second, of all hydrangeas, young oakleaves are the most succeptible to root rot while still can't stand drought.
Therefore, one have to find PROPER watering regimen to satisfy this requirement. Again, thick layer of mulch could be handy.
Third, it blooms on old wood and you are back to square one for winter protection as you would be with the most of macrophyllas. Winter protection ala 'hayseedman' for quercifolias will be not only questionable due to the rangy pattern of growth, but most likely will be impossible for the most of them due to their sizes, assuming they'll not die back every other year. 'Alice' in particular, is one of the largest h.q. and could easily reach 8x8' in just 3 years and 12x12' in 5 years if no dieback.
IMO, dwarf cultivars, such as Pee Wee or Sike's Dwarf (both look identical to me anyway) are the only quercifolias that could be/should be attempted to grow in solid z5 on condition that grower is determined and will put reasonable effort to protect them.
Fourth, indeed, fall foliage of oakleaves is a site to behold.
However, in order to develop fall color it should be grown in a considerable sun, say 3-4 hours, and here you'll have another contradiction. Location with 3-4 hours of tentatively morning sun in a summer most likely will become a 6-8-10 hours of sun in a winter and such exposure most definitely will dry flower buds or even the whole branches by the spring, thus you'll have a huge non-blooming plant in a best case scenario.
Sorry for the doom and gloom, but that is how I see it.

Re: 'Blue Billow'.
It wasn't me who touted it, but Hayseedman reported that it blooms RELIABLY for him in z6 WITHOUT any protection.
In my z6b garden I don't protect any hydrangeas except trying to chose location wisely, and indeed B.Billow bloomed for me the last three years on a row, including very cold winter of 2003/04.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 1:10AM
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Ego45 - Many thanks for your very generous feed back on my ??? on Alice quercifolia - I saw a few while in NC, over a month ago (my son planted one in Spring) tho were just starting their change to Fall attire by the time I headed back home (by the way it was a glorious 2day drive, truly a feast for the eyes & soul, nature's awe inspiring, brilliant Autumn display through 6 states!!! IA was still green then.)

Back to Alice & quercifolia in gen - I'd rather be forewarned than be lamenting later on. I just spent much of my day partially protecting my old Nikko (lassoed, burlapped to her waist) & corralled, 3 Big Smile, MyM & Pink Elf - it was a lot of work & still have several mini roses & Luna Blush to mound up - the thought of another one to cradle for a Winter nap isn't too inviting! I should look into PW & SD that you suggested but perhaps I should stick with Blue Billow. We took down an overgrown & no longer productive Linc. Lilac (the spot I have in mind) E shady border with 3-4 hrs of AM sun more in Winter when trees are bare. Lots of Hostas and 3 colors of Lamium cover the 30+x7ft border patch. I'm tired of dealing with slugs so am thinking of thinning the Hostas, replacing with shade tolerant Hs - any other suggestions?

How old is the Kyushu you posted in this thread, is she at her mature height?Such a beauty! Mine is about 5ftx2.5ft head - my 4.5y/o granddau was with me at the nursery when she spotted this little tree all dressed in creamy white lace - wouldn't come home w/o, I had to shed a sm fortune for this little girl who loves to dig dirt & garden - a great investment!!!

Again, many thanks for your very informative response - your warning is taken well - I tend to like lacecaps, so I hope BB works!


    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 12:50AM
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Ditas - I have had blue billow in zone 5 (So. NH) for about 5 or 6 years now. She just keeps getting bigger and better every year. The blue lacecap blooms turned a gorgeous shade of dark purple over time and the whole plant was impressive this fall. I wish I took a photo of her at the height of bloom. Definitely give blue billow a try!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 7:13PM
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" I wish I took a photo of her..."

I did.

In my garden it just start blue, but turning into lavender-purplish very fast. Kind of strange since in my acidic soil everything pink usually turns into blue or purple, not the other way around.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 8:52PM
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Ego45 -Wow, is there a H that does not grow so beautifully in your heavenly garden? Looks a bit like Purple Teirs, does she?
I'm eyeballing the spot I have in mind and it is quite sunny there now, after all the trees have shed for Winter - how would BB do there until the area gets the shade back in early Spring (will still have early AM sun then )? I have Hostas, coral bells, and 3 colors of Lamium as ground covers and Lily of the Valley in that 40X6ft shade strip. I mean to dig up some of the Hostas I'm tired of dealing with slugs - can't serve them beer daily, the bunnies get drunk and can't run fast enough from predators around!!! Will the slugs in that Hosta neighborhood bother BB H's foliage?

Alaok - how big has your BBillow H grown in 6 years? Thanks for the encouraging feed back!!!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 9:19PM
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