Dictionary of Flowers: Hydrangea, Dwarf Varieties

Distinctive ball-shaped flower clusters of Hydrangea. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Toshihiro Gamo and Flickr

Distinctive ball-shaped flower clusters of Hydrangea. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Toshihiro Gamo and Flickr

  • Hydrangea, Dwarf Varieties
  • Common name: hydrangea
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae 
  • Category: perennial in USDA zones 3-9, depending on species and variety
  • Height: 36" and up, depending on varieties
  • Width: 36" to 60"
  • Part shade/morning sun
  • Blooms: summer
  • Growth habit: bushy. Used as a filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, loose, moist, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers.
  • Garden uses: containers, mixed border, foundation planting
  • Diseases: leaf spot, mildew, rust
  • Pests: Japanese beetles, aphids, whitefly

Hydrangea is native to Eastern Asia, and in the wild, they can grow as shrubs, trees or climbing plants. Cultivated varieties are deciduous shrubs with large green leaves and large groups of small flowers. They can be pink, white or blue and the soil's pH affects the bloom color.

Hydrangeas grown in acidic soil bloom blue, those in alkaline soil are pink.

Cultivated varieties are normally hydrangea macrophylla species, with either mop like groups of blooms (mophead hydrangea) or flat top groups of blooms (lacecap hydrangea).

Also widely used in the garden are hydrangea paniculata, hydrangea quercifolia (oak leaf hydrangea) and hydrangea anomala (climbing hydrangea).

Hydrangea grows well in moist soil that drains well. When growing dwarf varieties in pots, use moisture retentive soil. Never allow the soil to dry completely. It needs to be planted in a shady area of the garden, sheltered from mid-day sun.

Protect from drying winds. Improve the soil before planting on the ground by adding plenty of organic matter. Mulching helps conserve moisture in both plants on the ground and growing in pots.

They benefit from feeding in the spring with a fertilizer for flowering shrubs.

Hydrangea normally blooms on last year's wood, so prune in late winter or early spring. Climbing hydrangeas should be pruned right after blooming.

New varieties of hydrangeas are bred to bloom on both last year's wood and this year's growth, so pruning is less of an issue. Deadhead spent blooms.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Hydrangeas are available in nurseries during spring and summer.

They can be propagated by cuttings or by division when dormant, in early spring. To propagate by cuttings, take softwood cuttings during summer about one quarter inch thick and five inches, removing all leaves but the top two.

Dip in rooting hormone and pot in loose soil. Keep humidity high by covering with plastic and misting if necessary. Keep in shade. Roots should form in about a month.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Hydrangeas can be affected by mildew and rust. To treat, apply fungicide. If affected by leaf spot, remove the damaged leaves and improve air circulation.

Treat with fungicide. Root rot can kill the plant. Improve drainage. Treat pest diseases with insecticide.

Popular varieties:

  • Hydrangea macrophylla 'Mini Penny' - grows up to three feet tall, blue flowers, mophead type
  • Hydrangea macrophylla 'Buttons and Bows' - three to four feet, pink flowers with white edges. Mophead type
  • Hydrangea paniculata 'Bobo' - white flowers on three foot plants
  • Hydrangea quercifolia 'Pee Wee' - oakfleaf type. Grows three to four feet. White flowers
  • Hydrangea quercifolia 'Munchkin' - oakleaf type. Three to four feet tall. White blooms turn pink as they age
  • Hydrangea macrophylla 'Let's Dance' series - reblooming, three feet tall. Pink or blue blooms

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Click to see Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Click to see Lavandula (Lavender)

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

Go from Hydrangea Dwarf Varieties to the Dictionary of Flowers

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