How to Grow: New Hydrangea Care

Watch this video about some new, smaller hydrangea types how to care for them in your yard so they bloom.


Hydrangeas are hot again. This trendy shrub really is making a big comeback. It was really popular during the Victorian era and then really fell out of favor for many years. But in the last 10 or 20 years we’re seeing new varieties being developed that make it more beautiful, more compact, and more useful in the landscape.

You’ve probably all have heard of the ‘Annabelle’ or the arborescens hydrangea. These are those big, white fluffy ones that you’ll see early to mid summer. When blooming they often will flop right down onto the ground. Those have been around for a long time and they’re beautiful, but there’s a new one out on the market. This one right here is called ‘ Invincible Spirit’. It’s a pink hydrangea in that arborescens family. What I love about this one is not only the pink or reddish kind of color that it has. We can see the flowers are a little bit smaller so it’s less likely to flop and it’s got stronger stems, too. So during a rainstorm or a windstorm it’s not going to get flat and then you have to prop it back up again. ‘Invincible Spirit’ is a really nice new hydrangea in the arborescens family. It grows about three to four feet tall and wide, nice to put in a perennial flower border.

These arborescens types of hydrangeas are nice, especially in the North, because even if they die back to the ground, the new growth that comes from the root system in the spring will actually flower. It flowers on what we call the new wood, the new growth in the spring. So even if it dies back, you get flowers this year. If you are growing those big, white ones that flop over, one way to get them to stand up a little bit better is to actually leave about a foot or so of stubble or branches in the spring. Don’t cut them all the way back to the ground. The branches that will grow from those stems will be a little sturdier and the plant will be less likely to flop over.

Another hydrangeas is kind of newish, but very popular, are the blue hydrangeas. If you’re in the North there’s a variety called ‘Endless Summer. This hydrangea was very revolutionary at the time because most blue hydrangeas flower on the old wood, the wood that survived the winter and then flowers the second year. The Endless Summer survives the winter and it flowers not only on the old wood, but the new wood as well. So you’re guaranteed to get blooms, so they said. For many people Endless Summer has turned into endless bummer because it hasn’t flowered very early or if it does flower, it’s usually very late in the season. That’s because the old wood dies back to the ground. So the key is to actually protect that old wood in the winter. You pile bark mulch or wood chips over the bottom of the plant about a foot deep. That’s all you need to do to protect those buds. That’ll guarantee that those branches will come back next year and then the flowers that form off of those branches will flower earlier. If you let it die back to the ground, you will get flowers like these beautiful ones here, but it maybe not until September or October by the time you get some nice blue flowers. So protect it in the winter and ‘Endless Summer’ will really be a beautiful shrub in the landscape.

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