Botanical Names: Hydrangea paniculata
Set your sights on growing the one hydrangea you can prune into a tree form. Hydrangea paniculata responds well to pruning and withstands more sun than the popular pink and blue French hydrangeas. If your property doesn’t yield sufficient shade to grow Hydrangea macrophylla, tuck a hydrangea tree into your landscape. They’re resilient and easy to grow, and hydrangea tree pruning isn’t difficult to master.
Hydrangea paniculata has flower heads that are pyramidal or cone shape, although some are more rounded. Whichever form they take, the flowers on Hydrangea paniculata are showstoppers. The white flowers open in summer, then gracefully blush to pink as they age. The pink tinged blossoms linger well into fall, adding to your yard’s autumn show. Frost swings the color to a honey brown, and the flowers last until winter weather breaks them apart.
One reason to love Hydrangea paniculata is that it brings on the color in heat of summer, when many other shrubs are finished flowering. Plants are remarkably heat and drought tolerant once established. Left to its natural form, Hydrangea paniculata creates a multi-stemmed shrub thatgrows 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. You control the height with pruning, although in regions with coldest winters, harsh freezes may shorten stems for you.
You can also prune Hydrangea paniculata to create a hydrangea tree. This type of hydrangea is breathtaking when in flower. It takes a few years of patient pruning to shift this multi-stemmed shrub to a tree form, but the result is worth the effort. You can also purchase Hydrangea paniculata that’s already in a tree form.
Because Hydrangea paniculata flowers on new wood, it forms its blossoms each growing season, which means you can prune plants up until flower buds are forming. For the largest size flower heads, cut stems to the ground in late fall, winter or early spring. You’ll be rewarded with florist quality blossoms you’ll want to bring inside to fill vases. It’s actually a good idea to plant several Hydrangea paniculata shrubs, so that you have extra blooms to bring indoors.
You can find several varieties of Hydrangea paniculata on the market. ‘Grandiflora’ is the oldest variety, commonly called PeeGee (short for Paniculata Grandiflora). It was introduced in the 1860s. Plants grow 10 to 25 feet tall and have a traditional cone-shaped flower head up to 18 inches long.
A new variety that has won hearts of gardeners, along with numerous awards, is ‘Limelight.’ It grows 6 to 8 feet tall. In summer, flowers emerge cream, shift to a cooling green tone, then blush pink. Cut flowers to dry before the first fall frost. ‘Bobo’ is a dwarf Hydrangea paniculata, which grows 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. It’s the perfect Hydrangea paniculata for small gardens.