All About Hydrangea

Up until July, the hydrangea occupy a very large corner of the Garden Center somewhat overlooked. Despite their lush green spring growth, they garner the most attention when their familiar white, pink, purple, blue, and lime green blooms start showing off in the summer.

When it comes to picking out a hydrangea even we admit it can be a little intimidating. Below is more information to guide you this hydrangea season.
Pink hydrangea paniculata and split rail fence
Hydrangea paniculata
(Panicle hydrangea)
A plethora of varieties to pick from in shades of white, lime green, light pink, deep pink. Flowers start white and fade to one color or another with time. Beautiful fresh or dried in arrangements.
White flowering hydrangea paniculata treeform in Garden Center
Treeform Hydrangea
(Panicle hydrangea - Treeform)
These are Hydrangea paniculata that have been pruned into the shape of a small tree. They have the same panicle-shaped flowers and come in the same varieties as the shrub form.
Purple and blue big leaf hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla
(Big-leaf hydrangea)
These have the quintessential, globular flowers many associate as a hydrangea. Excellent cut flowers.
Pink hydrangea arborescens growing near barn
Hydrangea arborescens
(Smooth hydrangea)
These have large leaves with rounded flowers, though they aren't as globular as the Hydrangea macrophylla. The florets that make up the flower clusters as not as big either. Of all the hydrangeas we carry, this is the only native type. Look for the 'Invincebelles' planted along the barn near our cut flower and propagation beds. They have reliably bloomed for many years now.
Blue mountain hydrangea flowers
Hydrangea serrata
(Mountain hydrangea)
Their compact habit make them an excellent choice for smaller landscapes. Intriguing, flattened lacecap flowers distinguish them from other hydrangea. We've found their bud hardiness is more reliable than Hydrangea macrophylla.
White climbing hydrangea against wood building
Hydrangea petiolaris
(Climbing hydrangea)
The only hydrangea that climbs! Unique textured flowers, glossy foliage, bark interest during the winter. Look for the specimen growing on the west side of the Garden Center.

Our Top Hydrangea Questions
1. What's the bluest hydrangea that will grow well in Vermont?
Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Billow' is the most blue of the mountain hydrangeas. If you're looking for the big-leaf blue hydrangeas (like what you see on the Cape), we've found Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bloomstruck' has the hardiest buds. You will need to amend the soil to be more acidic for true blue flowers.

2. Does Horsford's carry PeeGee hydrangea?
Yes, we do. PeeGee hydrangea can refer to a few different varieties but usually, it's a full-flowered, panicle variety. Historically it has been Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora'. We also recommend Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' since it's a nice full flower and more upright than 'Grandiflora'. Hydrangea paniculata 'Sweet Summer' is also a nice choice.
White panicle hydrangea flower heads
'Limelight' Hydrangea
3. What dwarf varieties do you have?
Some of our growers' favorites include Hydrangea paniculata 'Bobo', 'Little Lime' and 'Little Quickfire'.

4. What's the hardiest hydrangea available?
The Hydrangea arborescens varieties are the hardiest. We recommend 'Annabelle'.

5. Are hydrangea native?
Of all hydrangea we carry, only Hydrangea arborescens and its 'nativars' are native.

6. Do pollinators like hydrangea?
Hydrangea aren't the highest nectar plants but pollinators do seem to like them. We see butterflies and insects enjoying the plants here at the nursery.
Orange and black butterfly on hydrangea paniculata
7. When and how do I prune hydrangea?
This varies between types:
- Arborescens - cut back as far as you want in fall or early Spring. You'll get flowers on the new growth.
- Paniculata/Treeform - cut back no more than one third of the plant at a time in fall or early Spring and you'll get flowers on the new growth. Thinning is recommended for Treeform.
- Serrata and Macrophylla - Don't cut in the fall. Wait and see how far up the stems the plant is budding out. In Spring, cut back to where they're budding out.
- Climbing - prune to desired shape in early Spring.

8. How much sun do hydrangea prefer?
Overall, morning sun with afternoon shade is ideal. Most can handle more sun but they will likely require more watering.
- Arborescens - can handle more shade but will bloom better with half day of sun.
- Paniculata and Treeform - full half day of sun needed to bloom well. These can handle the most sun though.
- Serrata and Macrophylla - half day of sun, afternoon shade preferred.
- Climbing - can handle shade