Hydrangea Haven: Cultivating Charm in Your Cottage Garden

Hydrangeas, with their nostalgic and romantic charm, are great plants for your cottage garden. I just love their lush foliage and large delicate flowers; they create a whimsical and inviting atmosphere in the cottage garden or any garden for that matter. The flower lover in me adores their large, showy blooms in my favorite colors: pink, purple, white, and blue, providing continuous color throughout the summer and into fall.

So let’s get started on the types of hydrangeas I have in my garden at Old Castle Cottage and how to care for them.

Hydrangea arborescens or “Smooth” Hydrangea

You’ll hear me refer to them by their brand names Annabelle and Incrediball. In my opinion, Annabelle and Incrediball are low maintenance. They can handle part shade to full sun. They prefer well-draining soil rich with organic matter, so when planting, be sure to add compost. It’s important to water them to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. As with most plants, water deeply. I fertilize my smooth hydrangeas in early spring with a balanced fertilizer to promote healthy growth. You should avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers as they promote leaf growth instead of flower growth. What’s great about smooth hydrangeas is they bloom on new wood, so they can be pruned in late winter or early spring. I cut mine back in late winter to about knee height (18-24 inches), and in spring, I mulch to help keep the moisture in.

Panicle Hydrangea or “Peegee”

You’ll hear me refer to them by their brand names Limelight, Little Lime, Vanilla Strawberry, Bobo, Firelight Tidbit, and Pinky Winky. These are beautiful hydrangeas known for their cone-shaped flowers, and like the smooth hydrangea, they are low maintenance and hardy by nature. The care instructions are the same as I listed above for the smooth hydrangea.

Hydrangea Macrophylla also known as Big Leaf, Mophead, or French Hydrangeas

You’ll hear me refer to them as Endless Summer Bloomstruck, Nikko Blue, and Blushing Bride. This type of hydrangea prefers morning sun and afternoon shade and has the ability to change color based on the soil pH. It’s important to keep the soil consistently moist with deep watering and not to water overhead but at the base. Fertilize in the spring with a balanced fertilizer to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. You can also apply phosphorus-rich fertilizer to help encourage flower growth. The big difference is these hydrangeas bloom on old wood. They need to be pruned immediately after flowering. In my opinion, Macrophylla is the pickier of the hydrangeas, mostly because of the weather. In colder climates, if you get a late frost, you need to protect the buds by covering the plant. But the work pays off with large, beautiful, whimsical blooms.

I hope you find this post helpful in deciding which hydrangeas to add to your garden. You won’t be disappointed!

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