Plant of the Month: Panicle hydrangea (July)

The panicle hydrangea has become one of the most popular garden plants. The plant immediately evokes old rustic farmhouses, where long rows of flowering hydrangeas stand alongside the water. One unusual type of hydrangea is the panicle hydrangea – this flowers with a plume-shaped spray. White and pink varieties, which develop their colour as the flowering season progresses, are a particular treasure in the garden.

The panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) is the less well-known brother of the ‘ordinary’ hydrangea you are familiar with. The panicle hydrangea is a strongly deciduous shrub with elegant, plume-shaped sprays which are 15-30cm long. It’s an eye-catcher in any garden, blooms lavishly and is also insect-friendly. The plant combines perfectly with other garden plants, and can be planted both in the soil and in pots on a balcony or patio. With many panicle hydrangeas the colour of the flower develops during the flowering period from July to September, providing a constant surprise in the garden. Some varieties are also offered as standards.

Care 
Panicle hydrangeas can be kept healthy and will flower again every year if you follow a couple of simple tips:

  • The panicle hydrangea likes a spot in full sunlight or partial shade, and likes a humus-rich, acid, moist soil.
  • Regularly water the plant when it’s been dry for a while outdoors, particularly if it’s just been planted in the soil or in a pot.
  •  Unlike all other hydrangeas, the panicle hydrangea can also cope with a somewhat drier soil.
  • Give the plants special hydrangea fertiliser immediately after pruning to ensure that they keep flowering profusely for a long time and remain healthy.

Pruning tips

Pruning is very important for the panicle hydrangea. It ensures that new flowers develop on the plant every year, and keeps it young and healthy.

  • The best period for pruning is February – March.
  • By leaving the exhausted flowers on the plant in the autumn and winter, you can allow snow, frost or dew to create fantastic silhouettes.

The panicle hydrangea blooms every year on new branches which grow out of the plant after pruning so you can happily cut them back to 10-20cm above the ground every winter. This will also keep the plant more compact, and in the summer it will flower fabulously with large, heavy plume-shaped sprays. Pruning the plant higher up (e.g. to 60 cm) will give lighter plumes. More information about pancile hydrangeas and other garden plants can be found at Thejoyofplants.co.uk