Hydrangea question?

siennactAugust 5, 2006

I am thinking about getting two hydrangeas to put in front of the house mixed in with the kalmia. I've heard totally mixed things about hydrangeas so I thought it would be best to get advice from some experienced locals.

I am undecided on which ones I want (I keep changing my mind) but I am leaning toward one lacecap and maybe one mophead but I'm not too confident on the mopheads. The main thing is they need to be deep blue, not pink or purple because my house is red. I can amend the soil as necessary but some varieties just can't achieve the color I need.

The size I'm looking for is about 4 by 4 feet. The area is east facing, against the house, partial shade from a deciduous tree and the house. I live in central CT.

What blue varieties might work well? Any experiences with the 'Endless Summer' hybrids?

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My Endless Summer is *really* pale blue - I like the deeper colors much better. All my other mopheads (except the whites) are darker, in shades from blue through red. Sorry I can't be specific about varieties, I have no clue which is which other than Merrits Supreme, and that's not the color you're looking for.

I recommend checking with a reputable hydrangea nursery if you want to compare colors, sizes and cultural requirements. There's a link, below, to the Hydrangeas Plus website; their print catalog is much better, but the website also has precise info on all the varieties they offer.

One reason I like mopheads more than lacecaps is that they look good until frost without dead-heading. The lacecap flowers can look pretty bad once they've gone by. I also have one lovely and very unusual lacecap (whose name escapes me at the moment) that attracts japanese beetles like a magnet, something else to consider when you're making your choice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hydrangeas Plus

    Bookmark   August 5, 2006 at 11:09PM
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paigect(z6a CT)

I have a Nikko Blue that is always more blue than typical mophead hydrangeas and that this year has approached a cobalt color that is amazing. You do have to make sure you have the right conditions. Mine is on the north-facing side of the house. They can be ok with a little morning sun, but they do best in shade IME. Direct sun is not their friend.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2006 at 11:58PM
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molie(z6 CT)

No experience with 'Endless Summer' but I agree with paigect on Hydrangea care. My Nikkos are on the north side along a fence to our neighbor's yard. My maple tree and the narrow walk between our two yards keep them pretty much shaded all day... only in afternoon does the western sun slant into that area.

However, for a deep blue, I have one. I received a house gift of a 'Blue Donau' Hydrangea. It came from a florist in Manhattan but it was grown in Cheshire at the Kurt Weiss Greenhouse. It's not supposed to be real hardy in our area, but I planted it outside two years ago. The blooms are a lovely deeper, brighter blue than my others and the leaves are bright green and serrared.

The height is listed as 5' tall by 4 or 5 wide. Mine is still small... about 2 1/2 x 3.... but it was in a small florist's pot covered with foil when I received it. Now it's very bushy and full... the best looking one that I have. It survived our winter... I live along the coast.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 12:49PM
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Tina, for the blue lacecap I'd recommend "Blue Bird" which is by far the bluest lacecap of the HARDY types,

However, as Nan pointed out, lacecaps blooms have a shorter showtime life and could look somewhat ratty by August. Many people don't have a patience and deadhead them, thus they completely missing another stage of the bloom, when in a fall sterile flowers changing color from brown-green to different shades of red/russet/burgundy.
Here is the series of pictures of another great lacecap, Tokyo Delight, in a different time of the season:



As to mopheads, I'd not be looking too far, Nikko Blue is easy to grow proven blue hydrangea. If you'll buy already blue plant and start adding alluminum sulfate from the very beginning, you'll have no problem to keep it blue.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 1:26PM
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Great photos, as always, George!

My mother has a dark blue lacecap that's "almost" a mophead, the sterile flowers are so full. I think it's Blaumeise, one of the "Teller" hydrangeas. It's a stunning plant, extremely healthy and compact, and looks good for a very long period. The HP catalog indicates that the flowers on this one are also good for drying; not something I'd normally try with a lacecap. I've rooted some cuttings but never had them survive the first winter - maybe it's time to order one for myself.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 1:43PM
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'Blaumeise' was developed in Switzerland as a 'florist hydrangea' and while it's root hardy here, it would need to be extra protected in our zone.
Mine 'Blaumeise' wasn't blooming even after two last very mild winters.
I gave it to the friend who is in z7 (Long Island).
I agree, it's stunning lacecap when in bloom.
If it blooms...:-(

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 10:47PM
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paigect(z6a CT)

Forgot to mention - - my Nikko blue did not bloom the first three years after it was planted. I was getting ready to give up on it, and then one fall I heaped some extra mulch all around the base of it. It bloomed profusely next spring. I think the extra mulch kept the plant warmer and helped prevent bud loss from the cold winters.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 10:58PM
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vtskiers(z6a CentralCT)

Most, if not all Hydrangea macrophyllas will not bloom reliably in zone 6a without bud protection. This past winter was unusually mild (zone 7 at my house). The Hydrangeas are gorgeous all around my town. Even my H. macrophylla 'Lemon Wave' is blooming this summer. Don't expect a repeat performance if we have a normal '06-07 winter. Nikko Blue does seem to be the most hardy but after one hard winter the boards will be filled with messages, "Why isn't my Nikko Blue blooming?".

I'm probably setting myself up for disappointment but I couldn't resist adding a few lacecaps this season. So George, are you saying you have to deadhead to get the sterile fall flowers?


    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 9:05AM
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Sue, no, I think he's saying that if you deadhead, you don't get to see the color return to the spent flowers. Since I'm lazy, I usually have to look at dead lacecaps through late summer; mine don't color as nicely as George's in fall. Maybe it's the variety, or the exposure. Or the camera ...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 1:36PM
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Great, this is exactly the kind of info I was looking for. Blaumeise is beautiful, but if it's marginally hardy I'm not going to waste my money. I have a Nikko Blue that I got as a $5, 6" high stick from Michigan Bulb or similar two years ago. It still looks horrible most of the time and is just starting to produce one weird looking, miniature flower. I guess it's not a good example considering where I got it and the size.

I definitely am thinking 'Bluebird,' that was on the list and now that it has the George "seal of approval" I'll look for that.

Are lacecaps like Bluebird generally hardier than macrophyllas? I am not too motivated to do any extra protecting for the winter, especially since it will be against the front house and I'll have to look at it all winter. Maybe two Bluebirds are the best way to go for now...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 8:16PM
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Sue, no, if you deadhead lacecaps in August when they will be looking somewhat ratty, you'll lose fall display.
Nan, you are right, some lacecaps aging nicely, some don't.
It's my opinion (based solely on my own limited experience) that those lacecaps that have less attractive i.e. less colored sterile florets when in bloom producing the most attractive brighter colored flowers in a fall.
For example, serrata 'Grayswood' have muddy pink sterile florets in July

which become burgundy/wine in September

On another side, Bluebird or Blue Billow that look spectacular in June-July look pretty much undescript in a fall.

Tina, if you'll go for two lacecaps instead of l/cap + mophead, I wouldn't plant two Bluebirds, unless design call for matching pair. Bluebird or somewhat similar to it Blue Billow (true hardy for z6a, but little bid smaller) both belong to the early blooming group, while you might want to prolong attraction by planting something from mid-season group.
For the fall swap I should have nicely rooted 'Tokyo Delight' and you may have it if you wish.
No, lacecaps are not hardier than mops, but serratas in general are slightly bud hardier than macrophyllas.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 9:36PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Lovely pics, especially "Blue Bird" which seems to glow. I love the contrast of its shades of blue against the leaves.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 7:52AM
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I went to three nurseries today hoping to catch a good deal on the end of the season sales. No luck. I saw ton of Endless Summers but not much else. I saw a couple 'Bluebirds' but they looked horrible and were very expensive. Maybe this is a good excuse to stop by Broken Arrow tomorrow.

Thank you for posting all the photos, George! I didn't know any of this about lacecaps turning color in the fall. I love seeing photos, especially yours. You should write a book about gardening in Connecticut, or maybe write a gardening blog and include all your photos.

If you have a spare 'Tokyo Delight' I'd sure be happy to take it off your hands! I'll take very good care of it. :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 7:49PM
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"You should write a book about gardening in Connecticut..."

LOL. Yea, right, if I only could find editor who is willing to translate what I wrote to real English. :-)

Jokes aside, a great book about gardening in CT is already exist.

It is a "My Connecticut Garden : Personal Experiences of an Amateur Gardener" by George Valchar and I strongly recommend to find this book thru your local library since it was published in 1993 and less likely available in stores.

TD is yours.
I probably will have another one, anyone?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 8:26PM
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I have three Blaumeise Lace Cap Hydrangeas planted side by side up against the house. They get morning shade and afternoon sun. Why do I have big beautiful green leafy lush bushes with very minimal blooms? The few blooms that I have are beautiful but far and few in between. What do I do to produce more blooms? It has been planted for a year now.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 10:09AM
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