How to grow white hydrangeas

How to grow white hydrangeas

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There are a handful of different white hydrangeas out there and if you are looking to grow white hydrangeas some of the most common varieties include the following:

  • panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
  • French or bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  • oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
  • smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
  • climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris)

It is easy to fall in love with the timeless beauty of white hydrangeas. They can bring charm to any garden no matter the design. The best part about white hydrangeas is that they blend really well into any garden space you have unlike some of the brighter colors. There are plenty of varieties from which to choose.

White hydrangeas

The varieties of hydrangea that are typically planted for hedges have the larger flowers on the outside. These flower heads will grow into large round shapes or long cone shapes. Hydrangea hedges will typically not grow incredibly tall but they are perfectly suited to providing privacy and a colorful appearance.

If you have no white flowers in your garden, white hydrangeas are a particularly beneficial addition. White is a very pure color one which typically ads refreshment to your garden or even your patio. With white flowers you cannot change the color unlike other varieties of hydrangeas.

When you are choosing from the different varieties you want to make sure that you have selected one which fits best with your location so that you can provide the best possible care.

There are four common white varieties of hydrangeas:

When you are growing wild hydrangeas be aware of the fact that they prefer acidic soil but not too acidic. The mild point of the spectrum is best. It is also recommended that you make sure the soil is nutrient-rich. You can always add compost to your soil and fertilizer once a year if you would like to keep it happy and healthy.
Smooth hydrangea

Smooth (H. arborescens): ‘Annabelle’  is the other name and this is one of the most popular varieties. These grow best in full sun but in areas like the South it is recommended that they receive some shade. Here is an interesting guide on how to prune Annabelle hydrangeas

Bigleaf (H. macrophylla):  The big leaf hydrangeas are some of the most common and almost anyone can grow them. They do well in areas with partial shade, complete with well-drained and moist soil. They do need some winter protection and they grow well in most zones.

Panicle (H. paniculata):  These panicle designs grow cone shaped flowers and they prefer full sun. They can survive in all but the coldest of climates. The blooms will appear later in the season than other hydrangea varieties, usually around the middle of summer. They can get quite tall to so those who are intending to cultivate shrubs as their natural Hedges might do well to consider the Pinnacle designs which can reach up to 10 ft in height.

Oakleaf (H. quercifolia):  Those who love the shape of oak leaves will truly appreciate these plants especially given the beautiful colors that the leaves take on. When most people think of hydrangeas they specifically focus on the beautiful colors that are cultivated in the blooms and the flowers but rest assured that the oak leaf varieties are some of the most stunning because the leaves turn colors in the fall providing a beautiful bouquet of rust-red, sunset orange, and burgundy colors. The flowers will transform to a lighter pink or tan color concurrently. These will do well in dryer soils and can be cultivated in areas with sun or partial shade.

White hydrangea varieties

Growing the Oakleaf hydrangea
Oakleaf hydrangea

The Oakleaf hydrangea flowers manifest in the form of cone shaped clusters. If you opt for the snowflake variety it will open up with double blooms which gives you twice the number of petals as normal. Another Oak Leaf variety is the Alice flower or the Snow Queen flower both of which give you single flowered hydrangeas. To make sure that you get the variety with the proper flowers for your garden, wait until the plant has bloomed before you purchase it from a nursery.

PeeGee Hydrangea

For panicle hydrangeas one of the most common heirloom varieties is called the grandiflora which came about in the 1860s and has been recently nicknamed the PeeGee for short. The PeeGee Bush will provide heads up to 18 in long and the plants themselves can grow up to 25 feet tall so obviously be careful when you make a purchase that you have the appropriate amount of space in your garden not just the right climate. If you want a smaller version the Bobo variety is much smaller and will typically grow about 3 ft tall and 3 feet wide with beautiful lightly tinged flowers in the autumn. If you want pink and white varieties you can get up by color blend called the Pinky Winky.

Those who prefer a smooth hydrangea obviously know about the Annabelle, the most widely recognized. It creates beautiful rounded heads that can get up to 1 foot across which is why it’s commonly referred to as the snowball bush.

White hydrangea care

As is the case with all hydrangeas you can prune your wild hydrangeas back, close to the ground, at the end of winter. This helps to encourage better growth the following spring.

If you have a white hydrangea the care required to maintain your shrub is very similar to others. For most varieties you won’t have to prune regularly unless there are dead branches. You can choose to deadhead, removing the old blooms, so long as you do so carefully without interfering with or disturbing the newer blooms that are cultivating underneath.

The bloom should be given the appropriate amount of sunlight based on the variety, typically morning sun and in some cases full sun. The soil should be maintained at a proper moisture level never being too wet but never letting it get too dry. It is for this reason that the soil you use should be very buoyant and light such that it maintains moisture without drying out too quickly.

What soil to use for a white hydrangea

Hydrangea soil type - learn about the types of soil hydrangeas need and how the soil can effect the flower color of some varieties from blue to pink.

The most appropriate soil is going to depend ever-so-slightly on the variety that you choose but of course all varieties prefer well-drained soil that maintains its moisture and it has a bit more to do with the composition which can be altered by adding a lot of compost. If you have very hard, compact soil you can alter it before you plant the hydrangeas. As for the alkalinity or the acidity, that really only matters if you’re trying to change the color of the blooms for a big leaf variety, and with the white flowers this isn’t a concern as they canot be changed.

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