Hydrangeas are probably the most utilized and functional flowering shrub in Michigan. There are many species, varieties in each species, and uses of this great plant. Grown for their large flowerheads, with Hydrangea macrophylla being by far the most widely grown with over 600 named cultivars. The six most common species used in Michigan landscapes include:
Hydrangea anomala – Climbing Hydrangea
Although slow to start, after a season or two to become established, climbing hydrangea gains considerable steam and becomes rather assertive, often putting on a foot or more of growth in a single season. With root-like holdfasts and semi-twining habit, it will cling to either trees, bricks or fencing. (30-50′ tall)
Hydrangea arborescens – Smooth Hydrangea
This Hydrangea is a small- to medium sized deciduous shrub that is native to the eastern United States. This shrub flowers on new wood……meaning you can prune back in late Fall or early Spring without fear of losing flower buds.
Annabelle Hydrangea - White round flower heads are erect. 2001 PA Gold Medal Award Winner. Rarely to never fed on by Japanese beetles (3-6′ tall and wide)
Incrediball Hydrangea (A Proven Winners ColorChoice Plant) – Huge round flowers up to 12″ accross open green, then change to white before turning green again. Sturdy stems hold the flowers upright. (4-5′ tall and wide)
Invincibelle Spirit (A Proven Winners ColorChoice Plant) – The round pink ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea! Dark pink buds open to hot pink flowers which mature to soft pink before turning green. (3-4′ tall and wide)
White Dome – A white lacecap flower (4′-6′ tall and wide)
Hydrangea macrophylla – Bigleaf Hydrangea
This Hydrangea is a small- to medium sized deciduous shrub that is native to China and Japan. This shrub flowers on old wood……meaning you should only prune them when necessary immediately after flowering or you will lose flower buds. This species’ flower color is highly affected by soil pH. It is not the pH itself that changes the color, but the availability of aluminum ions. Aluminum is more available in acid soils, so the flowers turn blue. In alkaline soil, the aluminum is tied up and flowers will be pink.
Cityline Series (A Proven Winners ColorChoice Plant) – There are currently six cultivars in this series ranging from pinks and reds to blues and purples depending on pH. These are very compact and disease resistant plants. (1-3′ tall and wide)
Let’s Dance Series (A Proven Winners ColorChoice Plant) – Even after a harsh winter these varities were selected for their exceptionally vibrant flower color and excellent hardiness. (2-3′ tall and wide)
Forever & Ever Series (The Forever & Ever Brand) – Explode with color from late spring to early fall and are almost foolproof selections for even the novice gardener. Their ability to weather wintry conditions and still produce blooms each year means your garden will be gorgeous.
Endless Summer Collection - Includes “The Original”, Blushing Bride, Twist-n-Shout, and BloomStruck. Endless Summer® Hydrangeas offer everything you are looking for in perennial flowering shrubs: beautiful full blooms, multiple hydrangea colors, low-maintenance care and versatility in planting and hydrangea arrangements. With the collection’s unique re-blooming quality, these hydrangeas will fill your garden with incredible blooms all summer long! (3-6′ tall and wide dependant on cultivar)
Hydrangea paniculata – Hardy Hydrangea
This Hydrangea is a large size deciduous shrub that thrive throughout North America. They are quite cold hardy, and also tolerate full sun, heat and drought better than bigleaf hydrangeas. This species also flowers on new wood and has cone-shaped blooms.
Limelight - Lime green flowers mature to pink and burgundy in fall. (6-8′ tall and wide)
Little Lamb – Compact variety whose tightly packed white florets dance above the foliage like little lambs. (4-6′ tall and wide)
Little Lime (A Proven Winners ColorChoice Plant) – Dwarf form of the poplar ‘Limelight’ hydrangea, it has the same wonderful flowers in a smaller package (3-5′ tall and wide)
Pinky Winky (A Proven Winners ColorChoice Plant) – White flowers turn pink as they mature. The panicles continue to grown and produce new white florets, resulting in a huge, bi-colored flower. (6-8′ tall and wide)
Quick Fire (A Proven Winners ColorChoice Plant) – White flowers mature to pink. Blooms about a month earlier than other varities, so you can enjoy several months of hydrangea flowers.
Hydrangea quercifolia – Oakleaf Hydrangea
This Hydrangea is a large sized deciduous shrub that is native to the Southeastern United State, in woodland habitats from North Carolina west to Tennessee, and south to Florida and Louisiana.
Munchkin - Compact form and dense habit with white flowers. (3′ tall x 5′ wide)
Ruby Slippers – A lovely plant whose white summer flowers quickly turn pale pink, then deepen to rose. (3′ tall x 5′ wide)
Snow Queen - Flowers become rose-pink in fall and leaves turn deep red-bronze. Tan-brown exfoliating bark is attractive in winter. (6-8′ tall and wide)
Hydrangea serrata – Mountain Hydrangea
This Hydrangea is a small- to medium sized deciduous shrub that is native to Korea and Japan. This shrub flowers on old wood and the Soil pH affects the flower color in the same manner as it does with H. macrophylla.
Tuff Stuff (A Proven Winners ColorChoice Plant) – A reblooming plant with reddish-pink lacecap flowers in early summer until frost. (2-3′ tall and wide)
I personally love all hydrangeas, but careful selection should be made when choosing the right plant for the right location. Hardiness, size and cultivation are the biggest factors. Even though a certain color might be your desire, if a plant cannot perform at its best in a certain location than that certain color did you no good. With the last two winters being very difficult here in Michigan, most macrophylla Hydrangea have not faired well. Consider the other four shrub type species instead.