The Northwest becoming obsessed with hydrangeas

The third week of July belongs to hydrangeas. These long-blooming, shade-tolerant shrubs are my personal favorites. I don’t just have hydrangeas in pots, hydrangeas in borders and hydrangeas as a hedge, I also grow an entire hydrangea room entered through an opening and hidden behind a hedge – my blooming version of a secret garden. (Note: for photos of my garden, friend me on Facebook or Instagram, or enter my name on YouTube for garden videos.)

I am not alone in my hydrangea heaven obsession. Western Washington gardeners have been buying more hydrangeas than ever before. To find out more about the hydrangea hysteria I went to grower Monrovia Nursery and asked some hard-hitting journalistic question about this soft and fluffy flowering shrub.

MB: Are hydrangea sales up all over or just in the Pacific Northwest?

Monrovia: Hydrangea sales have been up all over, year over year, and have been on the rise for at least five years. As a grower we are pretty much sold out of most of what we had available for 2018. (Note: local nurseries still have plenty of hydrangeas in stock.)

MB: So why do you think everyone has finally jumped aboard my once lonely hydrangea bandwagon?

Monrovia: We think there are a few reasons. First, the newer varieties that re-bloom make them exceptionally useful in the landscape; second, breeders have made some smaller, more compact varieties ideal for containers and small yards; and third, the impact of Instagram with all those lovely hydrangea images. Other gardeners just get FOMO (fear of missing out) and they want those huge blooms in their garden, too. One more trend that has made people more hydrangea happy is the popularity of hydrangeas in wedding flowers. The rounded shape of the blooms gives brides an informal, country look for bouquets and centerpieces.

(Sidebar here: Monrovia had no idea my own daughter had a country style wedding overflowing with hydrangeas on the tables, on the cake, inside a huge picture frame and even hanging from the ceiling. It was July and I had to something with the hundreds of hydrangea blooms in my garden!)

MB: What is your best-selling hydrangea?

Monrovia: Our best seller is Blue Enchantress, a re-blooming hydrangea with dark purple, almost black stems. But two more varieties are super popular – Seaside Serenade Bar Harbor hydrangeas because it is a more compact form of the cream-colored Annabelle hydrangea and a new green hydrangea called Candy Apple. This one has lime green blooms similar to the Limelight hydrangea but on a more compact plant.

MB: So share with us some secrets about what the hydrangea plant breeders will be coming up with next.

Monrovia: You can expect to see more hydrangeas with colored stems and more hydrangeas that are not affected by pH. This means pink hydrangeas will stay pink in acid soil rather than turning blue.

Spoiler for next week: Another column about hydrangeas will be out next week. Why? Because they are my favorite shrub, they are easy to grow in our climate and I want everyone to know some hydrangea growing tips.

• • •

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.

For more gardening information, she can be reached at her Web site, www.binettigarden.com.

Copyright for this column

owned by Marianne Binetti.

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