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Syracuse, New York
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`Endless Summer' Bigleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea

'Gro-low' Fragrant Sumac

`Frau Dagmar Hastrup' Rugosa Rose


Recommended Shrubs -

`Endless Summer' Hydrangea

Nikko blue hydrangea often fails to bloom in summers following extremely cold winters.One of the most frequent questions I'm asked goes something like, "why doesn't my pink/blue hydrangea flower like those I see out on Cape Cod, down on Long Island, in Philadelphia, etc.?"

In a nutshell, the answer is that while these "bigleaf" hydrangea plants are perfectly hardy to temperatures The flowers of bigleaf hydrangea are pink when plants are grown in alkaline soils.far below zero, their flower buds, which form at the tips of their stems as the days get shorter and cooler in the fall, are often killed when temperatures drop to near 0F. This is especially true in winters featuring a stretch of relatively mild weather followed by a rapid plunge in temperature to zero, or below!

This frustrating trait of bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) has been the bane of gardeners in northern states since the plant was introduced to North America in the 1800's.

Endless Summer hydrangea blooms reliably every summer from buds formed on new stems.The beginning to the end of this frustration, however, started in a garden in the St. Paul, Minnesota suburb of Cottage Grove where, in the mid-1980's, a bigleaf hydrangea having the ability to form flower buds on new shoots, white arrows in picture at right, was discovered by a sharp-eyed propagator from Bailey Nurseries.

Fast-forward to 2003, Bailey Nurseries introduced this unique hydrangea it had named and patented as `Endless Summer.' A year later, the nursery sold 1.5 million of these hydrangeas across North America!

Endless Summer hydrangea will grow three to four feet tall and wide in Central New York gardens.Intrigued by the possibility of recommending a reliable-blooming bigleaf hydrangea to Central New York gardeners, I incorporated several `Endless Summer' into landscape designs I was preparing for clients.

Exactly as promoted, these plants have thrived and bloomed well in these gardens during the past several summers, and I'm confident they'll continue do so for many years to come.

If you'd like to enjoy the pink (alkaline soil) or blue (acid soil) flowers of bigleaf hydrangea in your garden, plant the three to five foot tall and wide `Endless Summer' in a spot where the soils are well-drained, yet moisture-retentive. And, while `Endless Summer' will produce a few small flowers when it receives as little as two or three hours of sun each day, it flowers best when planted in full sun but protected from harsh winds.

Remove spent flowers of Endless Summer immediately above the last set of leaves just beneath the flower.To avoid pruning off new flower buds forming at the tips of stems in late summer, clip off spent blooms at a point just above the first set of leaves beneath the bloom. And, in the spring, do not cut "dead" stems to the ground until new leaves have completely expanded - often not until early June.

Finally, don't be alarmed if the leaves of your `Endless Summer' become covered with purplish-edged spots in mid- to late July through the end of the season, below left. The spots are caused by a very common disease that infects young leaves as they're Cercospora leaf spot is relatively common on the leaves of Endless Summer hydrangea in late summer.expanding during wet weather in early spring. The disease is harmless and may not occur in years when spring weather is on the dry side.