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May In The Garden

Hydrangeas, hydrangeas, hydrangeas.  Here in Southeastern Massachusetts, we love ‘em.  The macrophyllas, the paniculatas and the arborescens, which are natives by the way. We love the many colors and shades that they are now available in.  We have so manyquestions about them.  How do we prune them, where do we plant them and how do we make sure they bloom???

However, there is one hydrangea that can be overlooked.   The last one asked to dance at the garden party. And that is the climbing hydrangea.   Many of us don’t think of using this plant.  Maybe it’s because we don’t know much about it or maybe because we don’t often think about going vertical in our landscape.  Here’s some information that may get you to consider using one of these beautiful plants.

Climbing hydrangea or Hydrangea anomala petiolaris is native to Japan and Korea.  It’s a slow starter when first planted; it may take three years before you see a flower, but after that watch out! No worries, you can prune it.  It makes it way upward by using aerial roots or “holdfasts” that stick to surfaces.  Rough surfaces work the best.  That means using a very sturdy wooden trellis or arbor instead of vinyl ones.  If you do use vinyl or Azek you can assist the plant by loosely tying the branches to the structure with zip ties, nylon filament or twine.  No wire!  It can eventually dig to branches.  You may want to even consider growing your hydrangea up a brick wall or chimney, provided your mortar is in good shape.  The aerial roots will leave a sticky substance on the surface but it is not harmful.

Similar to other climbers it is not a good idea to grow it up a shingled or clapboard wall as the holdfasts can cause damage.  However, they can climb large trees without harming the tree.  Do you have a good sized tree that was topped in one of the recent wind storms (or tornados) we had over the last few years?  If you haven’t gotten around to taking down what’s left of the trunk you could consider growing a climbing hydrangea up it to add vertical interest to your yard.

I’ve read about different growing conditions for this plant.  I’m going to go with what White Flower Farm says and that is it can be grown in full sun, part shade or full shade.  It does like rich soil so be sure to plant with compost and add some around the base each year.  Once it begins to take off it can cover much space, growing 40 feet or more and 5 feet wide!

If you don’t have a place where it can do its thing vertically, you could grow it along an old stone wall for horizontal interest.  Whatever you decide don’t leave this beauty sitting at the garden center.  Invite her to your garden party and give her a chance to dance!

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