This prolific landscape plant requires little maintenance to get the biggest, brightest blooms!When you picture hydrangeas, you probably think of the mophead varieties with round flower clusters in pastel shades of pink and blue. However, there are plenty more varieties with distinctive features! Panicle hydrangeas are a particular favorite—instead of round flower clusters, they grow in big, elongated football-shaped forms, kind of like a lilac. There are so many lovely colors to explore! They start out creamy white but slowly develop flushes of vibrant color as they mature—typically cherry pink or lime green. Here’s how you can grow them successfully in Iowa.
Everything You Need to Grow Panicle HydrangeasAs it turns out, the panicle hydrangea is one of the easiest varieties to grow! They’re quite cold-hardy, less sensitive to bright sun, and are relatively low-maintenance once established. If you haven’t had great luck with your landscape plants, you should definitely try growing some panicle hydrangeas. Their showy display of giant, colorful blooms will make you look like a total plant care pro!
Watering Panicle HydrangeasHydrangeas prefer consistently moist soil, but the panicle varieties are a little more resilient if the soil dries out temporarily. Spreading a thick layer of mulch at the base of the plant will be a big help—it helps slow down moisture evaporation by blocking the sun from heating up the soil. Water your shrub frequently and generously for the first year after planting, as this will help its roots spread. Once established, we recommend giving your shrub 1–2 inches of water per week. If the soil remains dry, you won’t get as many of those legendary blooms, so regular watering will give you the best results!
Sunlight and SoilThese hydrangeas will perform best with six hours of bright sunlight every day, and four hours of sun is the absolute minimum. They prefer softer morning light and will do better if they get some shade in the afternoon. An east-facing wall or garden is the perfect location for a panicle hydrangea, but you can also plant it underneath a leafy tree canopy where it will receive dappled shade. As far as soil quality is concerned, panicle hydrangeas aren’t picky. The most important thing is ensuring the soil is well-draining, as this will prevent root rot from pooling moisture. Mix lots of compost into the soil and loosen it before planting your shrub.
Pruning Panicle HydrangeasPanicle hydrangeas are summer bloomers, and their buds appear on new growth. By that logic, the ideal time to prune your panicle hydrangeas is in March, right before its spring growth spurt begins! Remove dead or diseased branches, and do some light shaping. Many panicle hydrangeas can grow quite large, so if you want to keep it small, plant a dwarf variety instead. That way, you won’t have to dramatically cut back your plant to accommodate it into your landscape. The best dwarf panicle hydrangeas for small yards and gardens are:
- Little Lime
- Little Quick Fire