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The clue to keeping hydrangea happy is in the flower's name

Hydrangeas in bloom. The flower petals are tinged light blue. The centers are creamy white with dark green foliage.
HuyThoai/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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iStockphoto
Blue hydrangea are notoriously finicky bloomers. This year in Vermont, they are happy with the high humidity. Learn how to care for and overwinter all kinds of hydrangea types.

If you've noticed your hydrangeas have been blooming their heads off this summer, it's likely due to Vermont's hot and humid conditions this year.

Hydrangea love being well-watered, though they don't like wet feet, so make sure your soil is well-drained!

Three hydrangea types grow well in our region: H. Arborescens, H. Macrophylla, and H. Paniculata.

One of these types tends to be on the finicky side when it comes to growing well and blooming, though. The blue hydrangea h. macrophylla gets the bad rap. This year, though, blue hydrangea are doing very well in the heat and humidity.

For some newer and hardier varieties of the blue hydrangea that tend to grow better and bloom more than the classic Endless Summer, try Blue Enchantress and Blue Wave.

And to ensure your hydrangea plants overwinter, mark your calendar for November. Then as you're out doing other yard and garden clean-up and prep for next year, put some wood chips on the top the hydrangea's crown.

That layer will protect the plant's stems and buds. Next spring, when you remove the woodchips, the hydrangea will start growing and blooming all the way into September.

Aside from being the more challenging ones to keep happy, blue hydrangeas have another downside: they aren't adept at attracting pollinators, like bees or butterflies.

Fortunately, there are a number of hydrangea varieties that do. Enter h. aborenscens!

This hydrangea type is the big, white, fluffy one you most likely think of when you hear the word, "hydrangea."

And there are new varieties of those, too, that vary in size and color from the traditional one. Try the Invincibelle Spirit selections like Wee White, which is a white version and the pink Mini Mauvette version.

These hardy perennials will bloom right into the fall and come back year after year without much concern.

The third type is one that is starting to bloom now and will continue right up until frost. That's the h. paniculata or the panicle hydrangea.

This hydrangea is the heirloom variety though there are some newer versions, like Quick Fire and Limelight. It's a big shrub that can grow 8- to-10 feet tall. This shrub is loaded with white blossoms that eventually fade to a burgundy color.

More from Vermont Public on hydrangea - Vermont Garden Journal: Get Familiar With Climbing Hydrangeas

Panicle hydrangea make great cut flowers and if you don't have the space, there is a dwarf version called Little Bobo that will stay three or four feet tall.

Ensuring they are well-watered and well-drained and properly overwintering hydrangea is a large part of their care. An equally important one is pruning. And the key to pruning them is knowing when.

If you have arborescens or the Annabelle hydrangeas, or paniculata hydrangeas, prune those in the spring.

For the blue hydrangea, prune them after its first flush of flowers.

Q: Can you resurrect a dried up blue hydrangea? How do you go about it? - Diane, in St. Albans

To resurrect a dried-out blue hydrangea, be sure to provide a lot of moisture in well-drained soil. You can also dry and preserve blue hydrangea blossoms to use in flower arrangements, too.

To do this, wait till the flower gets to a mature stage. And before it starts to turn brown cut that flower, strip off off the all leaves, place it into a vase with a couple inches of water. The water will eventually evaporate and the hydrangea blossoms will dry and be beautiful for a year.

Q: Another resident planted a sweet pea plant purchased from a local grower. They placed it in a raised bed in mid-June. The sweet pea got a lot of green growth, but very few flowers. Any idea what happened? - Jessie, in Shelburne

Sweet peas like cool temperatures! They haven't loved the hot and humid conditions we've had as of late. When you add these to your gardens and raised beds, go ahead and plant sweet peas in mid-April.

Getting them in the ground early allows them to start maturing and start flowering before it gets too hot. Sweet peas tend to shut down in heat. They'll keep their green growth but won't set flowers.

And if you're growing sweet peas, the key to get them to germinate is to score the seeds with a nail clipper or file. Soak them in warm water the night before then plant them the next morning. This helps them germinate faster and start growing quickly.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes.

You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with Vermont Public host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vermontpublic. We've closed our comments. Read about ways to get in touch here.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Saturday and Weekend Edition Sunday.
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 VPR. Be part of the fun and send your gardening questions here, for Charlie to answer on the air. Plus, find lots of great gardening tips and information for all seasons here. For more gardening information, check out Charlie's website, Gardening with Charlie Nardozzi. Charlie is a guest on VPR's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.