Hydrangeas are a most beautiful and rewarding group of garden plants. Their ease of care, adaptability to a wide range of climates, and the long season of beauty of their flowers, from May through November has endeared them to gardeners worldwide. Most widely known are the cultivated varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla. These include the mopheads with their broad domed clusters of large florets, and their wild parents, the lacecaps with flat flower heads, formed of an outer ring of large florets and a mass of tiny inner blossoms, often in a contrasting color. Hydrangea macrophylla, the ‘big-leaf hydrangea’ is a plant native to Japan. Its relative, Hydrangea serrata, the ‘woodland hydrangea’ is considered by many botanists to be a subspecies of H. macrophylla.
Hydrangeas are found growing in the Americas as well as in Asia, and include a wide range of growth habits from the ivy-like climbers of Mexico and Korea to the nearly herbaceous and very cold-hardy North-American Hydrangea arborescens, which can survive extreme stem damage and rebound from the soil with new stems that terminate in flowers. Among the most popular types are the Oak-leaved hydrangeas, H. quercifolia, native to the American south. Their flowers are carried in drooping, cone-shaped clusters, scented of honey, and their striking, lobed foliage turns brilliant crimson and scarlet in the autumn, remaining persistent on the plants longer than the leaves of most fall-colored shrubs. Equally popular, and also fragrant are the tree-like hydrangeas of the mountains of Japan, Hydrangea paniculata. Ubiquitous in the North-East US, they are widely known under the common name ‘PeeGee Hydrangeas.’
For more on the history, care and cultivation of Hydrangeas turn to our Hydrangea Care and Cultivation pages. Whether you want to change the color of your mophead hydrangeas, or learn how to cut and dry them, you’ll find what you need to know. Learn about their history and discover new resources. Those of you who know our efforts in sorting through the old roses, and trying to provide clear, accurate information based on our own observation, research and experience with the roses, will appreciate the effort we have put into knowing the hydrangeas we offer you today. -Gregg Lowery