Last updated on July 17th, 2019
The Pinky Winky hydrangea is a flowering deciduous shrub that produces pink and white flower heads. You will notice it throughout the course of their blooming season, which is quite long, the flower has continued to change colours. The full name is called the hydrangea paniculata Pinky Winky which is also referred to as a panicle hydrangea.
This is a summer-flowering shrub that is easy to take care of and a fabulous starter for those who are new to gardening. Is one of the best hydrangea varieties for winter seasons because it is the hardiest. If you are looking for a long season full of stunning flowers whose colour continues to change well into fall, this is the shrub you want.
The name Pinky Winky was given to the plant by the breeder. This breeder came from Belgium and dedicated the shrub to his son who’s a big fan of the cartoon Teletubbies and from that, the name Pinky Winky was born.
A panicle hydrangea
As mentioned the Pinky Winky hydrangea is a panicle hydrangea. Panicle hydrangeas are called such because they have a main stem with many small stems that branch away from the main stem. And each of those stems contains flowers that connect back to the branching stem. So the Pinky Winky has a cone-shaped flower head which is referred to as a panicle. The end of the panicles continue to grow longer and longer throughout the growing season and at the same time, they produce more and more flowers along that additional length. Panicle hydrangeas on mass are considered to be the hardiest of the hydrangea species which is again, why it is recommended that this particular variety be selected by those who are new to gardening.
Features of the Pinky Winky
Unlike other varieties, the Pinky Winky plant is far from finicky about it’s blooming. It will undergo rainy spring Seasons, harsh Winters, even hot summer drought and still produce beautiful flowers.
Blooms for new growth
With this particular plant, the hydrangea blooms are grown on new growth. This stands in contrast to many of the hydrangeas which produce buds on old growth. Why does this matter? Even if you cut the plant all the way down to the ground it will shoot up new growth and still produce those flowers on the new growth. This is something you have to be very careful of with other varieties but not with this one.
Bring on the butterflies and the bees
This is a great option in your garden if you want to attract butterflies and bees. These garden friends love hydrangeas. More importantly, it’s very resistant to deer. Unlike the other varieties, Pinky Winky shrubs are very low on the list of foods that deer go after first which may be useful for some gardeners who have problems with these beautiful aminals eating their plants.
Most people think of the large blooms associated with hydrangeas but they don’t necessarily consider the scent that is given off. With hydrangeas especially the Pinky Winky you get a rich, spicy scent that has undertones of honey and vanilla. It’s a very calming scent far from overwhelming.
The Pinky Winky shrub
The Pinky Winky shrub offers round shapes with red stems. The red stems are beautiful especially when they are juxtaposed by the bright green leaves. The stems are quite strong so no matter how large the panicle blossoms get, it won’t get weighed down and flop over. They will remain upright at all times.
A mature Pinky Winky when it reaches its largest point will be approximately 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. The shape will still be around. However, if they are incredibly happy they might get slightly larger and of course, you can always prune them regularly. This is a fast-growing shrub and it can grow out multiple feet in just one season.
The flowers you get are shaped like a cone, as mentioned. These are referred to as panicles. And each panicle has that main flower stem and several smaller branches that go out from the stem containing florets. All of the floor it’s combined create that overall flower.
If you look closely at the florets you will see that they are small, fertile florets that take on the appearance of stars and then there are larger sterile ones that go around the star-shaped floor it’s in the middle. Those showy florets are the ones that change colours throughout the season and transition from white to pink all the way to a deep red colour. It’s the small fertile ones at the bees love most.
These flowers will grow approximately 14 to 16 inches in length. They will grow all season long, as mentioned, transitioning in colour from white to pink to red. Pinky Winky is perhaps best known because of the two-tone blossoms that changed throughout the season. When the flower buds first arrived they are lime green and as they open the flowers are cream or white. They remain that way for most of the summer and then start to turn pink around August at which point as they die they take on that deep red colour.
You will start to see flowers with your Pinky Winky around the middle of summer at which point the white, cone-shaped flowers appear. In most places, they will start to turn pink around August and as the base turns pink the flower head will continue to grow outward as mentioned and with that, it will continue to produce new flowers that are white at the tips. This means that throughout the end of Summer and the beginning of fall your panicles will take on two different colours at minimum, the pinks around the lower end closest to the stems and the shrub and white along with the tips indicative of the new growth. This will continue throughout the remainder of the blooming season and eventually, you will get a two-toned combination of pink and a stunning rose red.
Best planting times
If you’re going to plant your Pinky Winky hydrangea make sure you find a location in your garden where the plant will be able to reach its full size. They can grow very large, and they will if you let them. It is best to plant them either in the spring or in the fall. If you plant in the spring do it after frost. If you plant in the fall do it early enough that your roots have time to get established before the cold winter sets in.
How to plant
As with almost all flowering shrubs, you should never plant it too deep in the ground. If you have purchased a Pinky Winky and it comes in a container, you will be able to see the size of the root ball and the container in which the plant is currently. That is your base for how deep you should dig your hole. The hole should only be as deep as the container in which the plant currently has. It should be slightly wider than the sides of the container. You can periodically check the size of the hole by placing the container inside just to verify.
When you are ready, adjust your soil to make sure that it’s rich in compost and nutrients and then put the plant in the hole and fill in all the sides with additional soil.
If you’re going to plant more than one make sure they are at least four feet apart.
If you decide to transplant your Pinky Winky hydrangea and move it somewhere else, you can absolutely do this but make sure you do it at the end of fall or the beginning of Spring. It is always recommended that you transplant when the plant is dormant, effectively when there are no leaves on the stems.
The other hydrangea varieties Pinky Winky will not be affected by the soil pH levels so it doesn’t matter what soil pH you have. You don’t have to test it, you don’t have to change it. You will get the same white colour flowers that transition to Pink and then red no matter the soil.
However, you can always help it out a little by adding some fertilizer. It’s best to apply a slow-release fertilizer and to do so early on in the spring right after you do any pruning. You don’t have to apply fertilizer. Your Pinky Winky, as a very hardy plant, will do just fine without it but if you want to encourage more flowers you can add something. Avoid any High nitrogen-based fertilizers as these will inhibit flower production.
In terms of sunlight Pinky Winky’s are very flexible and are happiest if they get partial sun or full sun. With watering, you want to make sure that you water regularly especially when it’s hotter outside. Once your plant gets established it will be much more tolerant of droughts compared to other hydrangeas but the soil should nonetheless remain moist at all times.
If you said about pruning your hydrangea it’s best to do in the early spring. As mentioned to be blooms will produce on new wood every year so if you’re cutting off those brown Twigs that are too high or too wide for your taste, you don’t have to worry about reducing the flowers you get this season.
When you are ready, start at the end of whichever branch you want to cut off. Follow the branch away from the tip until you have landed on the first set of buds. Cut right above those buds. That’s literally all you have to do. Pruning is not necessary but in some cases, you might want to do it for various reasons and if so those are the only steps you have to follow.