Finding The Right Climbing Hydrangea For My Yard

broken tree with tall trunk
Eye sore, tree trunk

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have a big, unsightly tree trunk in my yard.  Instead of having it cut down I would like to use it to support a climbing shrub.  And what better climbing shrub to choose than a hydrangea.

Yes, hydrangeas will climb.  But don’t picture a tall vine covered with big blue flowers – that is not what the climbing type will look like.  In fact, I am quite unfamiliar with climbing hydrangeas, so I’ve had to do some research.

I live in planting Zone 5, or 5a, in southern New Hampshire (view the hardiness zone map).  Knowing your zone when searching for a new type of plant to purchase is a good idea.  The nursery I visit will only offer plants that will grow in my zone, but how will I know which one to buy if I don’t research them first.  I like to have an idea of what I am looking for when spending big amounts of money on a shrub that will (hopefully) last for many years.

Who knows, maybe I will only have one type to choose from when I visit the nursery.  The one that I keep seeing is the Petiolaris which has white flowers if grown in sunlight.  It is hardy into Zone 4 so it would obviously do well in my yard.  As with most hydrangeas, it will grow in shade, but may not bloom very profusely without sun.  I also may have a problem with it trying to cling to a relatively smooth tree trunk.  As I have said, it’s an experiment.  In reading about this type of climber, I will have to wait a couple of years for it to really take off and climb.

Mothers Day is The Time to Shop For Hydrangeas

ImageFinally — it’s hydrangea buying time – almost.  In May it seems that the stores and nurseries get their shipments of hydrangeas in just in time for Mother’s Day. So the weekend and week just before the holiday is an excellent time to shop for hydrangeas.

Last year was the first time I had bought the plants myself.  That’s the Endless Summer blue in my picture and it did give me some very pretty light blue flowers. My yard is still in desperate need of landscaping, but it should be in better shape this year once my plants come into bloom.   Last season I had hoped to find a variety of colors to choose from and I was not disappointed!

Last May I bought six hydrangea plants at The House By The Side of The Road in Wilton, New Hampshire and I only stopped there (at six) because my cart was full!

They offered a wide selection to choose from and all of them looked very lush and healthy.  I expected to pay a lot since hydrangeas are popular flowers, but the pricing was reasonable I thought and ranged from $29.99 to $36.99 each and they were large plants.

hydangeas in pots
Newly purchased hydrangeas in pots

I have a lot of shade in my yard, but fortunately hydrangeas can take the shade – as long as they do get some sun.  So this is the year I will see just how well they took to spending winter in my yard.

Buying Blue Hydrangeas For the Landscape

When buying a blue hydrangea be sure your soil is acidic enough to keep it flowering blue.

Spring is coming, and if you are already dreaming of shopping for a great landscape perennial, a beautiful addition to any garden includes the bright blue flowers of the Mophead hydrangeas.
Often hydrangeas are at nurseries by the bucket load in spring, just in time for Mother’s Day.
Image
Hydrangeas bloom in July and beyond (in northern climates), so that means most likely they will not have open blooms in May. You’ll have to trust the tag for the information as to the type and color of the flower.

Macrophylla Varieties Have Color-changing Flowers

The trouble with trying to buy a blue hydrangea is that even if it is blue in it’s container it may change color in the ground.

pink and blue hydrangea flowers
Sometimes you’ll see both pink and blue flowers on the same bush (photo credit: Pixabay)

All blue flowering hydrangeas are of the macrophylla variety, sometimes called the mopheads. You’ve no doubt heard of the Nikko Blue and Endless Summer which can have blue flowers.   They are sold as blue-flowering, but if your soil is not acidic enough, the flowers will be more pink.

Potted plants are grown in special soil which is more controlled as to it’s alkaline and acidity levels. Yard dirt can vary widely in acidity.  In New England the soil tends to be acidic, so my blue hydrangeas truly bloomed blue.

Macrophylla Flowers Are Round, Paniculata Flowers Are Elongated

The flower color change can only happen with the macrophylla variety hydrangeas. The paniculatas – like my Pinky Winky – do not change color no matter what type of soil they grow in.

To guarantee a blue flowering shrub, first test your soil. Buy a do-it-yourself test kit to find out if your soil has the right acidity to create blue blooms.
A pH below 6 means you should have blue flowers. If it’s above 6, plan on pink ones.

If your soil is too alkaline to grow blue flowering hydrangeas, consider growing them in a big pot where you can control the soil’s pH and get the color you want.  This is tougher to do in the ground.

What to Add to Soil to Make it More Acidic

To get blue flowering hydrangeas a soil acidifier must be added to the ground. Something organic (I am an organic gardener) can be purchased. Carefully follow the directions, and add as often as the package recommends. Additions to the ground will not last. Rain will wash away the changes, so it must be done consistently.

Other natural ways to create acidic soil may not be enough to create blue flowers all the time, but you can try watering the plant with something acidic mixed with water. I used to pour pickle juice on my gardenia plants. Vinegar in water is another choice.  I’ve never done this to my hydrangeas, so you may want to look into it more.

Lime lowers Ph (you want a lower Ph for blue flowers) and Sulfer raises Ph.

Time To Plant the Hydrangeas Folks!

Hydrangea shrub in pot
Endless Summer Hydrangea

Finally — it’s hydrangea planting time!  I’ve been waiting for the local nurseries to have their hydrangea shrubs out for sale and it seems that they all get them in and ready to go just before Mother’s Day.  So this week is an excellent time to shop for hydrangeas.

This is the first time I have bought the plants myself.  My yard is in desperate need of landscaping and color is a must so I hoped to find a variety of colors to choose from and I was not disappointed!

I bought six hydrangea plants at The House By The Side of The Road in Wilton, New Hampshire and I only stopped there (at six) because my cart was full!

They offered a wide selection with many plants to choose from in each group and most all of them looked very lush and healthy.  I expected to pay a lot since hydrangeas are popular flowers, but the pricing was reasonable I thought and ranged from $29.99 to $36.99 each and they are good size plants.

I have a lot of shade in my yard, but fortunately hydrangeas can take the shade – as long as they do get some sun.

I bought some bone meal and compost soil amendment at Agway and headed home to get planting.