GardenSMART :: Try These Easy-Care Native Hydrangea Varieties
Try These Easy-Care Native Hydrangea Varieties
By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners ColorChoice
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
Gardening with native plants is a smart choice for gardeners who want easy care landscapes with a focus on sustainability. These gardeners know that plants that are native to their region have the advantage of naturally being well suited to environmental conditions and therefore typically require less intensive management.
While it's true that many hydrangea varieties, like the bigleaf Hydrangea macrophylla, originated in Asia; Hydrangea arborescens (smooth hydrangea) and Hydrangea quercifolia (oak leaf hydrangea) originated in North America and are a great choice for native gardens. Plus, these two varieties come in a wide assortment of shapes, colors and sizes. Here are just a few choices for gardeners who would like to explore native hydrangea cultivars:
Incrediball Series smooth hydrangea
The Incrediball series by Proven Winners is the granddaddy of huge, showy, and simply awe-inspiring Hydrangea arborescens. The breeding goal for Incrediball was to create an improved version of the native 'Annabelle' smooth hydrangea, that had stronger stems to eliminate flop. However, when that was achieved, an added bonus was that the plant also had incredibly large blooms! Shortly thereafter the powdery pink Incrediball Blush was added to the series. Both plants in the Incrediball series have four times as many flowers as their predecessor, which are held up on strong, beefy stems. Hardy down to USDA Plant Hardiness zone 3 and reaching heights of 4-5', Incrediball is a showstopper in any garden.
Invincibelle Series smooth hydrangea
All five hydrangeas in the Invincibelle H. arborescens series are reblooming on strong, supportive stems with the reliability of their native 'Annabelle' predecessor. Invincibelle Ruby and Invincibelle Spirit II bloom in dark burgundy to rich pink, and reach heights of 3-4'. The three remaining plants in the series are dwarf hydrangea, with Invincibelle Limetta blooming in green and Invincibelle Mini Mauvette producing mauve-purple flowers on 2.5-3' plants. Invincibelle Wee White produces abundant flower heads that flush soft pink, aging to white, then green on a tiny, tidy habit that is just 1-2.5' tall. Their native roots help to make all of the plants in this Proven Winners series disease-resistant and hardy down to USDA zone 3.
Gatsby Series oakleaf hydrangea
Just as the Great Gatsby is a classic of American literature, H. quercifolia is a classic native plant. Gatsby Gal is the smallest of this four-plant series with full panicles of pure white blooms held upright above the foliage, reaching heights of 5-6' tall. The other three plants in this series are beautiful, showy giants, reaching heights of 6-8'. Gatsby Moon boasts white, doubled flowers on full, mophead panicles, which are so densely packed they create a unique "quilted" effect. Gatsby Star has white, pointed, double florets – so each one is like a little stack of stars! Finally, Gatsby Pink boasts big, gorgeous blooms that quickly transform from pure white to an incredible rich pink. All plants in the Proven Winners Gatsby series are hardy to USDA zone 5.
These hydrangea varieties are just as showstopping as their Asian cousins, while retaining the native qualities that make them super-hardy and nearly maintenance-free. Plus, they have the added value of helping gardeners to create a unique sense of place and preserve the natural history of their region.
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By Pamela Crawford, author, Easy Patio Veggies & Herbs
Photographs by Pamela Crawford
Pamela has written a great article about mixing herbs in containers. Herbs are natural companions with different textures for interest. The herb mix of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme offers lots of flavor from a small combination loaded with textural interest.
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