One of the South’s most iconic flowers, the Hydrangea is more than just a shrub with a big, showy blooms. Now, you can bring those beloved blossoms up to eye level (or higher) with a tree-form hydrangea. The simple but ingenious concept takes the popular shrub and trains it to grow into a tall and proud "tree." If your local garden shop doesn't carry them, check out online sources such as White Flower Farm, where prices for the trees start at $99.
You can also train the shrub into a tree yourself, though it will take a little more patience. You’ll need to make sure you choose plant from the species Hydrangea paniculata. Stake the strongest, most dominant stem, and trim down the branches closest to the bottom. Repeat each spring until the plant reaches the height you desire.
WATCH: Why Didn't My Hydrangeas Bloom?
For this container, we chose a "Limelight' panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata "Limelight"), with bright white-green flowers. White Flower Farm also sells "Vanilla Strawberry," featuring blooms that will turn deep red. Selections of panicle hydrangea are the toughest, most adaptable plants that can be grown in tree form. These include Pee Gee hydrangeas, which you can train to grow into 25- foot trees. "Limelight" and "Little Lime" are smaller selections that reach 6 to 10 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet tall, respectively.
Dress up the tree for porches and walkways by turning a large wicker basket into a planter. Line the bottom of the basket with plastic, and then place the hydrangea in it (don't remove the tree from its original container). Set it in partial shade, and water whenever the soil is dry to the touch.
Find baskets similar to this on at retailers like World Market, for as little at $30. (Just be careful to keep them out of inclement weather!) Or these outdoor-specific baskets from Pottery Barn, starting at $34.