The best native hydrangeas - plant test results

The best native hydrangeas – plant test results

Everybody loves hydrangeas, however nobody desires to see a 12 months’s value of flowers destroyed by a winter frost or poorly timed pruning session. Luckily, there are just a few intently associated native North American species that thrive on new wooden, which means they are often pruned anytime from fall to early spring, and even killed off by frost, with out sacrificing their stunning flowers.

For 5 years, workers and volunteers from Center of Mount Cuba in Hockessin, Delaware, evaluated easy hydrangeas (hydrangea arborescensZones 3–9) and two shut kinfolk: grey hydrangea (H. cinereaZones 4–9) and silver-leaf hydrangeas (H. radiata, Zones 3–8). We classify this assortment of native vegetation as “wild hydrangeas”. Many of the vegetation within the trial had been flat (ie, native) hydrangea cultivars, with just a few picks from different species and one interspecific hybrid.

To know extra

A greater technique to prune easy hydrangeas

Which easy hydrangeas are greatest for pollinators? Mophead or Lacecap?

The inflorescences of untamed hydrangeas and associated species fall into two classes: lacecaps and mopheads (see “Which Clean Hydrangeas Are Greatest for Pollinators? Mophead or Lacecap?”). Many of the vegetation within the check flower for just some weeks in early summer season; nonetheless, the flower heads stay engaging in late summer season, autumn, and even winter. Most have white flowers, though just a few pink-flowered cultivars have been launched lately. Not like non-native large-leaf hydrangeas (H. macrophylla and cvs., Zones 6–9) and mountain hydrangeas (H. serrata and cvs., Zones 5–9), flower shade of untamed hydrangeas and associated species isn’t affected by soil pH.

Many of the hydrangeas within the check carried out greatest within the shade, which helps stop barren flowers and leaves from burning, particularly in hotter, drier climates. However we discovered that most of the cultivars had been surprisingly solar tolerant, particularly in the event that they had been planted in well-draining, moisture-retaining soil. A few of the rose flower varieties constantly scored higher in solar than shade. In hotter summer season climates, nonetheless, all these hydrangeas will seemingly require supplemental water to assist them tolerate the solar with out being broken.

Overview of native hydrangeas

hydrangea arborescensZones 3–9 / cinerea hydrangeaZones 4–9 / hydrangea radiataZones 3–8

Circumstances: Full solar to partial shade; medium to moist, well-drained soil

native vary: Jap and Central United States

Pests and illnesses: few critical issues

Propagation: Woody cuttings and seeds

check parameters

On Mt. Cuba Heart From 2017 to 2021, a complete of 29 hydrangeas, together with three straight species and 26 cultivars, had been evaluated for vigor, behavior, floral show and pollinator efficiency.

Take a look at length: 5 years

Zone: 6b/7a

Circumstances: All check vegetation had been grown in full solar and 19 taxa had been additionally grown in 60% shade. The clay loam soil on the website has a pH of round 6.5.

Cautious: To simulate typical panorama upkeep practices, minimal care was supplied all through the trial, with supplemental water supplied solely within the first rising season and through some extraordinarily dry durations.

Superior hydrangeas with distinctive flowers and habits

Clean Hydrangea ‘Haas’ Halo’ (Lacecap)

Clean Hydrangea ‘Haas’ Halo’ (H. arborescens ‘Haas’ Halo’) earned an ideal rating of 5, the one plant within the check to take action, and was propelled to the highest by its star pollinator ranking. The primary time it bloomed on the trial and I noticed its large flowers attracting tons of pollinators, I purchased one house the identical day. Within the trial, vegetation grown in full solar exhibited flower heads that had been constantly among the many largest all through the analysis, averaging 8 inches in diameter. A spring lower expanded the already substantial floral show and diminished the plant’s top from 7 ft to 4 ft. It carried out practically flawlessly within the shade, the place it exhibited even development, darkish inexperienced foliage, and flowers that remained engaging for months after its mid-summer bloom. Should you solely have room for certainly one of these wild hydrangeas, ‘Haas’ Halo’ presents the proper mix of horticultural excellence and pollinator worth.

Incrediball® Blush easy hydrangea (Mophead)

Incrediball Soft Hydrangea Blush

Including some fairly colours to the combination, Incrediball® Smooth Hydrangea Blush (H. arborescens ‘NCHA4’) is a small mophead with sterile pink flowers that change into extra intensely coloured because the fertile flowers put together to open. With its smaller dimension, about 4 ft tall and 5 ft huge, it is an reasonably priced alternative for smaller areas. It is usually fairly solar tolerant and if given plenty of moisture, a lot of solar and wonderful drainage it would change into a really spectacular shrub. Its super-tough rods are particularly spectacular; they by no means fall off, even when the plant is in full bloom and fully coated in large flower heads.

Hydrangea Lime Rickey® (Mophead)

Hydrangea Lime Rickey

One other distinctive artist was Hydrangea Lime Rickey® (H. ‘SMNHAL’). It was the one interspecific hybrid within the trial, having been developed from a cross between silver-leaved hydrangeas (H. radiata) and plain hydrangeas ‘Pink Pincushion’ (H. arborescens ‘Pink Cushion’). Lime Rickey® is an exquisite, massive and engaging plant that does nicely in each solar and shade. Its distinctive mophead flowers have sterile flower buds that begin out lime inexperienced after which fade to off-white or ivory once they open. The fertile raspberry-pink flowers that open slightly later supply a novel distinction; there was no different plant within the trial like this one. Because the flowers end, they flip again to a delicate inexperienced. Sadly, these fascinating flowers didn’t entice massive numbers of pollinators. However if you happen to’re a hydrangea collector, that is positively one you may need to personal.

Leaders with outstanding vigor and enhanced efficiency

Clean Hydrangea Invincibelle® Spirit II (Mophead)

Gentle Hydrangea Invincibelle Spirit II

One other mophead, Mild Hydrangea Invincibelle® Spirit II (H. arborescens ‘NCHA2’), is tied with Incrediball® Blush for the best rating amongst rose-flowered cultivars. It’s bigger and has a extra strong behavior than Incrediball® Blush and, though its flowers are smaller, it incorporates extra fertile flowers per bunch. It additionally attracted the best variety of pollinators of all mopheads, though its pollinator counts couldn’t be in comparison with the a lot increased numbers that lacecaps attracted. For gardeners who actually like a mophead-head form, Invincibelle® Spirit II is an efficient compromise, providing a pretty floral show with some pollinator worth.

Incrediball® easy hydrangea (Mophead)

Soft Hydrangea Incrediball

Clean Hydrangea Incrediball® (H. arborescens ‘Betwo’; picture p. 60) is a superb replace to a permanent favorite. It originated as a seedling of ‘Annabelle’ (H. arborescens ‘Annabelle’), a white mophead with a notoriously versatile behavior, particularly in mid-summer when it requires some type of help to maintain it full. Incrediball® fixes all of it with sturdy rods that simply help these large white mopheads everybody loves. It is rather more dependable in each means. Consider ‘Annabelle’ as a traditional heirloom, value conserving in case you have it; nonetheless, Incrediball® is a better option if you’re beginning a brand new planting from scratch.

Clean Hydrangea ‘Mary Nell’ (Lacecap)

Mild Hydrangea Mary Nell

Clean Hydrangea ‘Mary Nell’ (H. arborescens ‘Mary Nell’; picture p. 60) is a lacecap much like the ‘Haas’ Halo’, however with a double ring of sterile flowers across the exterior. Like most different lacecaps, it attracted massive numbers of pollinators. You get each model and substance with this plant. We have discovered that it is rather less tolerant of full solar than a few of the different cultivars, so put it in partial or full shade. It may be slightly arduous to trace proper now, however hopefully it is going to be extra extensively obtainable sooner or later. ‘Mary Nell’ is a pleasant hydrangea that deserves to be grown extra. If you’re a collector that is one other good one to have.

A number of extra standout hydrangeas value contemplating

White Dome® easy hydrangea (Lacecap)

Soft Hydrangea White Dome

If you want to develop the plant that attracted extra pollinators than every other plant within the check, Smooth Hydrangea White Dome® (H. arborescens ‘Dardom’) is the one one to trace. It is a large, showy lace bonnet in the identical class as ‘Mary Nell’ and ‘Haas’ Halo’, however with a barely extra compact behavior that makes it higher suited to smaller gardens. Sadly, lack of availability could be a difficulty with this plant. We managed to search for it initially of the trial, however since then it has change into slightly more durable to search out. Though it is an older cultivar, it is so good that we’re hoping some specialty growers will take an curiosity in it and make it extra extensively obtainable.

Clean hydrangea (Lacecap)

smooth hydrangea

The straight species, easy hydrangea (H. arborescens), had a rating of 4.0, which was not excessive sufficient to position it on the leaderboard. Nonetheless, it obtained prime marks for pollinator enchantment, with its comparatively small flower heads attracting the second highest variety of pollinators within the check. That is the species from which a lot of the cultivars within the trial had been chosen or bred, however it had much more pollinator visits than its offspring with bigger, extra showy inflorescences. It has a big native vary within the jap and central United States, the place it’s usually discovered rising on slopes in moist, shade forests. When you’ve got these situations, it ought to do you plenty of good.

Clean Hydrangea ‘Eco Pink Puff’ (Lacecap)

Soft Hydrangea Eco Pink Puff

Clean Hydrangea ‘Eco Pink Puff’ (H. arborescens ‘Eco Pink Puff’), a pinkish lacecap, is the one plant within the trial that doesn’t produce sterile flowers. Its distinctive look grew on me, and by fifth grade I needed it in my backyard. Though the flowers are small, there are about 2,000 of them per inflorescence, by far the best fertile flower rely of any plant within the assay. This cultivar did nicely within the shade, however vegetation grown in full solar had been fuller and the flowers extra spectacular. That is one other selection that may be troublesome to trace, however nicely well worth the effort.

Silver leaf hydrangea (Lacecap)

silver leaf hydrangea

silver leaf hydrangea (H. radiata) is a plant that I like, though it did not achieve this nicely within the check. This species is intently associated to H. arborescens and is native to a small space within the southern Appalachians. It has stunning massive and really showy flowers. Its leaves have a shiny silver again that provides nice motion to the panorama, particularly when there’s a mild breeze. One caveat is that this species must be grown in some shade; the vegetation in our check suffered in full solar. In any other case, it is an awesome backyard plant that is not too arduous to search out in cultivation. It’s at house on the sting of a forest and has a powerful capacity to carry brightness to a shady backyard.

Wild hydrangea check outcomes

native hydrangea test results chart
Click on on graphic to view in PDF

Sam Hoadley is the Horticulture Analysis Supervisor at Mt. Cuba Heart in Hockessin, Delaware.

Pictures courtesy of Mt. Cuba Heart


The next plant mail order sellers supply most of the hydrangeas featured on this article.

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