Panicled Hydrangea - Return of the Legend
With the growing popularity of large-leaved hydrangea, many much more hardy species of these unique shade-tolerant shrubs literally faded into the shade. One of the most “affected” crops is panicle hydrangea. It is modest in its requirements, but by no means in beauty, the plant today is perceived as almost hopelessly outdated, not fashionable and rather boring. But panicle hydrangea still continues to amaze. And the spread of the trend of decorating gardens with simple care is slowly returning to its former popularity.
Not at all modest hydrangea
Back in the middle of the last (20th) century, summer cottage fashion made panicle hydrangea a culture not just popular, but almost obligatory for any suburban area. It was used in the design of standard summer cottages so widely that without flowering bushes of panicle hydrangea it was almost impossible to imagine typical garden houses. But in the new millennium, the popularity of this type of hydrangea began to decline and the plant has experienced a period of oblivion in recent years. Only the emergence of a trend in the design of easy-to-care gardens and increased attention to the most hardy and undemanding species of plants has revived the former demand for panicle hydrangea. But this plant has something to boast about. The new career of panicle hydrangea that has begun is not connected at all with its modest role as a background shrub.
Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) - one of the largest species of these shrubs, developing in the form of dense, powerful bushes or multi-trunked trees up to 10 m high (most garden varieties are limited to a height of 1.5 m to 3 m). From the nature of panicled hydrangea, a fairly rounded crown is inherent. This shrub develops rapidly, usually its annual growth is 25-30 cm. Leaves up to 12 cm long are oval or ovoid, with a weak edge on the upper surface and a strong edge along the veins on the lower side. The main decoration of the shrub is not light and bright foliage, but thick, wide pyramids of panicles, which in this hydrangea can reach 25 cm or more in length.
Panicled hydrangea inflorescences, like other species of these shrubs, consist of two types of flowers: small fructiferous ones are almost invisible, while all the beauty of the inflorescences is provided by large sterile flowers. In different varieties, the ratio of the two types of flowers and the density of their arrangement are very different, which provides a great variety in the structure of panicles. In varieties with dominant sterile flowers, dense pyramids or panicle hydrangea brushes in many respects resemble the usual favorite caps of large-leaved hydrangeas. But there are varieties with more elegant lace panicles, in which a larger number of fruit-bearing flowers provides an almost airy translucent structure of the inflorescence. Infertile flowers consist of 4 petals, their diameter is most often limited to 2.5 cm.
The flowering of panicled hydrangeas begins from 4 to 5 years. After flowering, fruit boxes with a length of up to 3 mm are tied, beautifully cracking at the top. The seeds are very small. Seed ripening occurs in October, in the middle lane you can wait for it very rarely, and even then not in all varieties, even with a very favorable combination of weather conditions.
Most varieties of panicle hydrangea have a very pleasant aroma. Their smell is especially felt when landing in large groups. All varieties of panicled hydrangea are honey plants.
Empowerment with a varietal palette
Panic hydrangea acquired a reputation of an old, unfashionable and boring plant, most likely, because at one time it was considered mandatory for the design of suburban gardens and was associated with a unified Soviet design. This type of hydrangea has been used with us since antiquity, until recent years, it was perceived as a traditional element in the design of the Russian garden. In the process of its wide distribution, panicle hydrangea almost lost its splendor and solemnity and became so mundane that this led to a sharp decline in its popularity. Active selection and expansion of the variety palette has long changed the face of this modest, but much more stable and versatile shrub than other types of hydrangeas.
Panicled hydrangea, when used correctly, can play in the garden the role of not just a background, but also a star shrub. When served correctly, she appears as a fashionable, modern and surprisingly magnificent woman with a non-capricious character, opening up completely new perspectives in the design of hedges or shrub-tree groups, as well as flower beds with borders.
Panicled hydrangea is a strikingly diverse species. Due to the fact that this plant has become very popular in the West, and in the best nurseries of Europe and the world they are producing new and startling varieties, today it would be a big mistake to talk about some common standard for panicle hydrangea appearance. Among the varieties of this plant there are different specimens, both in height, and in the shape of a bush, and in size, and even in the form of inflorescences, which may differ or be similar in terms of flowering. Sometimes individual varieties of this shrub are so different from each other that it is easier to confuse them with other types of hydrangeas than to relate to one species.
In fact, for any garden there is a suitable variety of this type of hydrangea. Panicled beauties can be selected for both a small and a large garden, for complex or simple compositions, solo parts or group ensembles, for gardens with a limited color scheme or multi-color, with emphasis on the dominance of green or an explosion of colors, originality or stylistic purity. You will find your ideal variety for the curb, mixborder and for the solo part on the lawn.
In the design of the garden panicle hydrangea is used:
- to create strict or landscape hedges, alleys, borders;
- as a masking element and a separating, zoning shrub;
- like a tall shrub in the midline of double-sided mixborders and rabatoks or in the background of mixborders with one-way vision;
- as an emphasis on flower beds of any size;
- in landscape arrays and groups with trees and shrubs;
- in landings in a natural style;
- as a highlight in shaded areas of the garden;
- in buildings and large objects of small architecture.
The many faces, great variety variety allows you to use panicle hydrangea in any style of landscape design. Previously, it was considered as a plant rather for landscape gardens, plantings in a natural style. But many modern varieties can fit into even the most rigorous regular ensembles. For a garden and styles in which various elements of regular design are used, for projects with a focus on geometry and ceremonial compositions, varieties with very large and dense inflorescences are chosen - such as Limelight, Phantom, Vanille Fraist and Grandiflora . For oriental and Asian styles, varieties with looser panicles of inflorescences, high razlogy picturesque bushes (for example, delightfully graceful Unique, Floribunda, Brussels Lace and Kyushu) are chosen. In a modern style, they prefer to use varieties with original inflorescences, such as the Great Star, in which tiny fruit-bearing flowers contrast with huge, up to 10 cm four-leaf sterile flowers, more reminiscent of propellers. But hydrangeas with an original color, including light green "Limelight", will fit no worse. For rustic style and antique decoration, rustic gardens (that is, gardens in the style of rough natural beauty) they still prefer species rather than varietal panicle hydrangeas.
Selection has changed the concept of panicled hydrangea as exclusively about a white-flowering shrub. Today, the palette of this plant is expanded to all possible shades of a white-pink spectrum. Moreover, individual shades and nuances appear as watercolor transitions, the color changes from a lighter color of the buds to saturated on the blossoming flowers or vice versa; There are differently colored fruit-bearing and non-fruiting flowers. Not to mention the fact that all panicled hydrangeas are characterized by a change in color as the flowers bloom, darkening or blanching on fading inflorescences. Still popular pure white colors, including radiant, almost snowy flowers of the unique and beloved varieties "Dart‘s Little Dot" and "Kyushu". But no less beautiful are varieties with other colors:
- offering to admire creamy and creamy shades of the Grandiflora and Silver Dollar varieties;
- soft pink grade "Renhy" or "Vanille Fraise";
- gradually pinking up to an intensely dark pink variety “Pinky Winky” and “Pink Diamond”;
- unique lime, with a rich acrylic color, the Limelight variety, which florists love so much today.
One of the main advantages of panicled hydrangea, which was finally appreciated according to its merits, is flowering at not very typical times, at a time when most garden shrubs have either left the garden scene or entered the fruiting season. Panicled hydrangea blooms at a time when even the best late herbaceous perennials with attractive flowering have not yet begun their parade, but all summer species have long faded. In fact, this is a unique shrub that fills its niche between the flowering and autumn-flowering stars with its flowering. Thanks to him, you can create a baton of continuous flowering and the basis for the design of compositions that are attractive throughout the year. This type of hydrangea in all its glory appears in July and does not leave the garden price until the end of the active season and the arrival of the first serious autumn cooling. True, in October, mainly the new and most magnificent varieties of this beauty bloom, which are distinguished by the longest flowering or the ability to bloom in several waves. The latest flowering of panicled hydrangea varieties is characteristic of the Pink Diamond, Tardiva, and Limelight varieties.
Selection of partners for panicle hydrangea
Due to its flowering and versatility, panicle hydrangea is an excellent partner for any garden shrub or tree. This plant is well combined with early flowering shrubs, including mock-ups, forsythia and lilacs. But no worse than this type of hydrangea and looks in the company of evergreen junipers, spruce, thuja, with magnificent rhododendrons or with spectacular holly, derain, snow berries, viburnum, barberries and euonymus.
It is quite simple to select partners from among the herbaceous perennials. Shade-tolerant panicled hydrangea goes well with the stars of secluded nooks: hosts, ferns, aquilegia, astilbe, etc.
Despite the rather superficial root system, panicled hydrangea allows you to plant ground cover plants in the trunk circles, which replace mulching, protect the rhizome from overheating. This shrub is combined, for example, with a mossy saxifraga, stonecrops, hoofed grass, and other shade-tolerant perennial groundcover.
Conditions needed for panicled hydrangeas
The selection of growing conditions for panicle hydrangea is directly related to their frost resistance and endurance. To succeed with this shrubbery, it is enough to take care of the main thing - protection from the blown winds, refusing to choose open, unprotected sites. It is in places with high wind activity that these hydrangeas freeze. In sheltered, warm and secluded corners, they will not suffer even in the most severe winters.
The rest of the panicled hydrangea deserves the title of undemanding shrub. The most spectacular flowering from this plant can be achieved in partial shade, but panicle hydrangea will be able to settle in the sun, and with a stronger shading. In open sunny areas, the shrub is characterized by slow growth and smaller inflorescences, difficulties arise more often in the dense shade, the plant blooms less abundantly, produces fewer panicles. This type of hydrangea is a gas-and noise-resistant shrub, tolerates polluted environment and urban conditions, is not afraid of planting along roadways, along the perimeter of the site.
But the selection of soils for this shrub will need much more stringent. Panicled hydrangea normally develops and blooms luxuriantly only on fairly fertile, moist and loamy soils. She feels great when applying organic and mineral fertilizers during planting, does not tolerate neglected, poor and compacted soil. Particular attention should be paid to soil reactions. For panicle hydrangea, slightly acidic loams are preferred. Before planting shrubs in the soil, it is advisable to add coniferous soil, mature organic matter, if necessary, lay a drainage at the bottom of the planting pits. The acidity of the soil and its reaction directly determines the color intensity of panicle hydrangea inflorescences. The most expressive colors are typical for this shrub on acidic soil, but on soil with a neutral reaction, the color of the varieties will be paler, and the size of the inflorescences will be significantly inferior to the declared ones.
Planting and primary care for panicled hydrangea
Panicled hydrangea in a permanent place is best planted in the spring in regions with severe winters (in spring or autumn, respectively, in regions with milder winters). In any case, for a permanent place, it is advisable to use seedlings at the age of four or five.
When planting in flower beds or in groups, in a solo lot, plants are planted in large planting pits with a depth of about 40 cm and a diameter of about 60 cm. For hedges, this hydrangea is placed in large trenches up to 1 m wide. The optimal distance between plants is about 2.5 m or equal to the maximum height of the variety.
Before planting on seedlings, it is desirable to shorten the longest roots and cut the shoots, leaving 3-4 pairs of buds. Planting is completed not only by abundant watering, but also by mulching with peat, compost, sawdust or any other materials. Supporting irrigation is mandatory. In the first year after planting in the fall (or early spring during the autumn planting), it is necessary to feed the plants with additional nitrogen fertilizers to accelerate growth.
Panicled Hydrangea Care
Despite its status as a hardy, non-capricious and practically maintenance-free plant, you should never forget about one point of care for this shrub: panicled hydrangea does not tolerate drought too well and will require regular watering during periods when natural rainfall is not enough. Mandatory procedures are carried out after top dressing, during the period of budding and throughout flowering. Deep soil saturation with moisture is preferred rather than frequent procedures.
For this plant, it is better to constantly maintain a sufficiently high mulching layer. The soil in the near-stem circle of panicled hydrangea to a height of 5-8 cm is covered either with sawdust, or peat, or any other available material that does not lead to a violation of soil acidity. Mulch is renewed in early spring and, if necessary.
Several times during the season, it is advisable to slightly loosen the soil near hydrangea, after loosening it is necessary to update the layer of mulch.
For abundant flowering, this type of hydrangea and regular top dressing will be needed.The first is traditionally applied in early spring, using complex, special acidifying agents (for rhododendrons) or nitrogen fertilizers. The second top dressing is carried out during budding, the third and fourth - during and after flowering, using phosphorus-potassium fertilizers. If the bushes are characterized by too brittle shoots, which are difficult to support the weight of the panicles, it is better to carry out additional fertilizing with potash fertilizers.
Trimming panicled hydrangea is not as complicated as in other species. It is carried out in early spring, before the onset of swelling and, moreover, the budding of the kidneys. The main task is to carry out sanitary cleaning, remove all damaged, too thin or thickening shoots. Healthy twigs are shortened by 3-4 buds, but such pruning is optional. If desired, the bushes can be formed into stricter "balls" or give them the desired shape by a stronger pruning of shoots. When grinding inflorescences and more sparing flowering in spring, a more cardinal thinning of the crown should be carried out.
Fading inflorescences on a shrub are cut in late autumn on the eve of winter to prevent breakage of shoots. If the branches are not fragile, then dry inflorescences are left to decorate the winter garden. Sometimes branches need support during flowering.
Winter hardiness and durability are among the best.
The main advantage of panicled hydrangea is its endurance. Despite the fact that the varietal diversity of this plant has expanded, and today this type of hydrangea is no longer represented by just a few cultivars, it is not worth associating panicled hydrangea with other capricious and low-tolerant species. Unlike super-popular counterparts, panicled hydrangea is able to surprise with its winter hardiness, cold resistance, and ability to recover quickly. Panic hydrangea is much superior in frost resistance to tree-like, large-leaved and any other variety. Varietal novelties are considered less frost-resistant, able to withstand winters only up to -25 degrees, but it should be borne in mind that, provided that the varieties adapted to your area are purchased, the shrubs will perfectly cope with more severe winters, especially if the places for planting them are selected correctly. Under suitable conditions, panicled hydrangea is able to tolerate even abnormal and unstable winters, but also in the leeward areas, in a situation where this hydrangea still freezes branches, it still quickly recovers and blooms lushly already this year. It will be possible to enjoy panicle hydrangea flowering even under conditions of severe freezing to the level of snow.
Panicled hydrangea belongs to the best long-lived shrubs. It is capable of decorating gardens for more than half a century without loss of decorativeness. For these plants, it is necessary to carefully select the conditions and place of planting, because such shrubs are really brought into projects for many years.
Pest and Disease Control
Panicled hydrangea is rightly considered to be the most resistant species of this shrub to pests and diseases.
Reproduction of panicle hydrangeas
Panicled hydrangea is propagated using layering, which is fixed in the soil along the perimeter of the bush, providing regular moisture to accelerate rooting, or by cuttings. For the latter, you can use the tops of the shoots remaining in the spring after trimming (provided that 4-5 buds remain on them). After processing in a growth accelerator, they are planted in loose acid soil and, with the provision of shading and regular soil moistening, constant greenhouse conditions are maintained.
Summer cuttings on this type of hydrangea are very difficult, because it takes only 5 days - from June 10 to June 15. Cut lignified cuttings from the bottom of the shoots using sections without flower buds and lengths of no more than 10 cm, breaking them off together with the heel manually. Cuttings also require treatment with growth accelerators, removal of lower leaves and shortening of upper leaves. Rooting takes about 1 month, provided that greenhouse conditions and shading are created.