Landscape Articles

Red, White & Blue Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are one of the easiest shrubs to identify throughout Eastern Massachusetts. They are superb garden plants with an enormous diversity from evergreen climbers, to small deciduous trees with splendid masses of flowers, to lovely alpine shrubs covered with flowers with fall color. In general, hydrangeas are summer bloomers, easy to grown and maintain, and suitable for all kinds of soils. They come in a wide range of shapes and colors and have long lasting bloom times.

In honor of Independence Day, I am choosing our favorite red, white, and blue hydrangeas to use in residential landscape designs through Eastern Massachusetts!

RED- Hornli Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Hornli')- Dwarf in size, ideal small shrub for container, accent or border use in semi-shady areas. Numerous colorful bright crimson broad flower heads add long lasting enjoyment.

WHITE- Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice')- For the shrub border this bold selection is very handsome. It has deeply lobed, oak-like leaves and a profusion of large white blooms.

BLUE- Dooley Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Dooley')- This charming flowering shrub is nearly smothered in summer blooms. Rich, brilliant blue flower clusters are backed by the lustrous, densely arranged foliage. Thrives in rich, moist, well-drained soil.

A quick garden tip- the key factor in flower color is not the acidity of the soil, but a plant's accessibility to aluminum sulfate. A hydrangea growing in an acid soil without aluminum sulfate will not bear blue flowers. Neither will a hydrangea turn blue if the soil it grows in has aluminum sulfate but is extremely basic of alkaline; the calcium of soils with a high pH will bind the aluminum sulfate so that it is not available to the plant. It is possible to grow blue flowers, even in non-acidic soil with a natural pH above 4.5, by adding aluminum sulfate to the soil. If you want to do this, do so in September.