If you need a little balance in your life, plant a hedge of 'Harmony' hydrangeas. The blooms are often so large and heavy that they cause the branches to teeter to the ground. A well-established planting will stop cars when it's in full bloom.
Joan and Jack Fagan of Homewood, Alabama, love their 'Harmony' oakleaf hydrangeas. Jack says, "I think they're great and not a lot of work." He has actually rooted a few by placing a brick over a branch lying on the ground. It takes a couple of years, but eventually the plant develops roots under the brick, creating an entirely new plant. Once the branch is rooted, he cuts it from the mother plant and transplants it to a new spot in his yard.
'Pee Wee' is a smaller selection, perfect for the compact spaces of suburban or urban gardens. This plant is perfectly at home in front of a low wall or gracing a large terra-cotta container. Its leaves turn a deep wine color in the fall and often persist till spring.
What They Need
When planting oakleaf hydrangeas, the most important thing is to make sure that they're planted in well-drained soil. "Good drainage is key," says nurseryman Eddie Aldridge of Hoover, Alabama, who introduced 'Snowflake' and 'Harmony' to the gardening world. He recommends locations with morning sunshine and shade after 2 p.m. "It's very important to give them protection from the late-afternoon sun."
Eddie also says hydrangeas are not too picky about the soil, but they do appreciate a bit of peat moss to retain moisture. It also helps keep the soil acid, which they prefer. Once established, oakleaf hydrangeas can tolerate drought, though they will definitely appreciate an additional drink during extended periods without rain. Mulches, such as pine straw or leaves, will also help the soil retain valuable moisture.
What's more, you've got to give them lots of room to grow so they can reach their full potential. "I'm a spacer," Eddie admits. "I like to space plants so they can mature." If you crowd hydrangeas, you will end up pruning them and sacrificing their graceful form.