Hydrangeas are in the midst of a style revolution. Many exciting new varieties are rebloomers, some are two-toned, new flower forms are appearing and plant sizes are shrinking. Hydrangeas of every kind have always had a lot going for them. All make terrific cut flowers and many dry well, too. They’re easy to grow if planted in the right situations: dappled shade all day; or early morning/late evening sun and shade for the rest of the day. They require ample, regular water and well- draining, well-amended soil.
Bigleaf hydrangeas (H. macrophylla) often get the most attention, but other types are just as lovely and have their own reasons to be grown. Hardy hydrangeas (H. paniculata) will tolerate dryer soil, and their large, usually pointed panicles can be heavily flushed with pink. Some flower heads are loose and open, creating a lacy effect. The large and dramatically cut leaves of oakleaf hydrangeas (H. quercifolia) provide beautiful red fall color after the huge flower clusters fade to bronze and pink. The lacy and dainty flowers of mountain hydrangea (H. serrata) appear above dark, colorful stems.
The only critical thing you need to know is the correct way to prune each type. For those that bloom on new wood, prune in earliest spring while still dormant. For those blooming on old wood, you should prune right after flowering, removing up to one-third of the shrub’s branches to near the ground. The new growth that appears will bloom next year. See the accompanying guide to the various types. As mentioned, there’s a new category, however: rebloomers. With these, you’ll need to remove the spent blooms and cutting back the stems by up to 1/3. New blooming growth will appear the same season as well as the following year. See the accompanying chart for how to prune each type.