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Vermont Garden Journal: Leaving The Old Hydrangea Varieties Behind

Mercedes Rancaño Otero
New panicle and smooth leaved hydrangeas don't disappoint like the blue hydrangeas and they give our garden a beautiful late summer to fall glow.

I’m moving on in the hydrangea world. When the first ‘Endless Summer’ blue hydrangeas hit the market I thought it was the holy grail of hydrangeas for our climate. But unfortunately, many times ‘Endless Summer’ has turned into Endless Bummer for lack flower production.

So, I’m now into the new panicle and smooth leaved hydrangeas. These sturdy producers don’t disappoint like the blue hydrangeas and they give our garden a beautiful late summer to fall glow.

On a recent Garden Bus Tour of New England that I co-lead every year, we stopped at the Pleasant View Greenhouses in Loudon, New Hampshire to see their Proven Winners trial grounds. It was loaded with some of the best new hydrangeas on the market. The panicle hydrangeas are best known by the tall standard ‘Pee Gee’ hydrangea. But new varieties are smaller and better flowering. I like ‘Little Lime’ which grows only 3 to 5 feet tall with white fading to pink and burgundy colored blooms. ‘Bobo’ stays 3 feet tall as well with pure white colored flowers. For a twist on the taller panicle hydrangeas that grow to 6 feet tall, try ‘Quick Fire’ with its rosy colored flowers or ‘Little Lamb’ for its small airy petals on large flower heads. A smooth leaved variety that I really like is ‘Invincibelle Spirit’. Like the common ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea it has massive flowers in summer. But ‘Invincibelle Spirit’s’ flowers are pink instead of white, offering a nice color alternative.

All these hydrangeas are hardy to zone 3, have few pests or problems and flower every year. But unlike blue hydrangeas, you can’t change the flower color by altering the soil pH, but many of these varieties change color on their own as their flower’s age.

And now for this week's tip, snip off the ends of watermelon and cantaloupe vines now to help the fruits that have already set ripen sooner. Any new fruits that form this late in the season won’t have time to mature and just will pull energy from the ripening fruits.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about Asian pears. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.


Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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