A Bloomin’ Guide to Hydrangeas

While the chilly winter months may not seem like the most obvious time to get your green thumbs in action, here’s a gardening secret that might surprise you: winter is the BEST time to plan out your garden. Yes, you heard that right! While the garden beds may be resting under a blanket of snow, your dreams of a lush, vibrant garden can be in full bloom. In fact, this is the perfect season to envision and design your ideal landscape. And, if you adore the sight of beautiful blooms in your garden, then you’ve probably considered adding some hydrangeas to your collection. These stunning shrubs are not only easy on the eyes but also relatively easy to grow. There are many different types of hydrangeas to choose from, but factors such as soil and light conditions strongly determine which ones will thrive in your space.

Hydrangea Basics

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s cover some hydrangea basics. These lovely plants are known for their large, colorful clusters of flowers and lush green foliage. They can be deciduous or evergreen, but most commonly, they are deciduous in Middle Tennessee. Can you believe there are approximately 70 to 75 different species of hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.) recognized worldwide! These species vary in terms of size, shape, flower color, and growth habits. While there are many species, only a handful are commonly cultivated and well-known for their ornamental value.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff – the types of hydrangeas you can consider for your garden in Middle Tennessee:

Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)


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Also known as French hydrangea, these are probably the most recognizable. They’re known for their globe-shaped, mophead flowers that come in various colors, including blue, pink, and purple. The flower color can actually be influenced by the soil pH, so you can experiment with your soil to get your preferred hue. In our area, these hydrangeas do well when planted in partial shade and provided with plenty of moisture.

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

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This hydrangea, often called oakleaf hydrangea, is known for its unique foliage resembling oak tree leaves. The leaves turn a lovely crimson in the fall. Oakleaf hydrangeas produce cone-shaped flower clusters, and they thrive in the dappled shade that is common in our state. They’re quite hardy and can handle our unpredictable weather.

Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)

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Panicle hydrangeas, sometimes referred to as peegee hydrangeas, are a fantastic choice for our gardens here in Tennessee. They boast elongated flower clusters that start out white and gradually turn pinkish-red as they age. These hydrangeas are sun lovers, so they’ll appreciate a sunny spot in your garden. They’re also pretty drought-tolerant once established.

Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

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Smooth hydrangeas, also known as wild hydrangeas, are versatile and can handle both sun and shade, making them a great choice for different spots in your garden. The ‘Annabelle’ variety, often referred to simply as Annabelle hydrangea, is especially popular. It produces enormous white blooms that will steal the show.

Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris)

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If you’re looking to add some vertical interest to your garden, consider the climbing hydrangea. This beauty, commonly known as climbing hydrangea, is a vigorous climber with lacecap-style blooms and glossy green leaves. It’s perfect for covering trellises, walls, or fences, and it can handle the Middle Tennessee climate with ease.

So, which hydrangea should you plant? Well, it depends on your garden’s specific conditions and your personal preferences. If you have a sunny spot, panicle hydrangeas or smooth hydrangeas (like ‘Annabelle’) may be your best bet. For shadier areas, go for bigleaf hydrangeas or oakleaf hydrangeas. And if you want a climbing plant, the climbing hydrangea is a fantastic choice. Remember that hydrangeas in our area will appreciate regular watering, especially during dry spells, and a good layer of mulch to keep their roots cool and moist.

So, grab a warm cup of cocoa, cozy up by the fireplace, and let your imagination run wild as you plan your garden oasis for the upcoming spring and beyond. And if you need a helping hand to turn those dreams into reality, don’t hesitate to reach out to us – your trusted garden design experts. Happy gardening!

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