“Bigleaf” Hydrangeas are the quintessential summer flowers, with their globes and lacy doilies of blue, pink, purple or white. Excellent for partly shady areas, many of the myriad selections on the market today bloom repeatedly into summer, offering color from about June to frost. Acid soils will, in most cases, give you blue tones, while more neutral soils give you pink. White varieties don’t change color but can often fade to beautiful pale greens or develop a blush as the petals age. Shady, moisture-loving companions include perennials such as Astilbe, Lobelia, and Ligularia (their yellow flowers would be a great foil for deep purple hydrangea blooms!) and foliage accents like ferns and Hostas.
Care is easy: give them adequate moisture during the dry days of summer (keep in mind, though, that in high heat they may wilt but not be dry), and refrain from trimming them until late summer so you don’t remove the flower buds that are present in late winter. If the bare winter stems are unsightly, use perennials or low evergreens around them to hid the view until they sprout. Although they may tolerate full sun, part shade is best so they don’t get too sunburnt or stressed by the heat of summer. And keep an eye out for hungry deer.
by Miri Talabac, Woody Plant Buyer