Plant Profile: Hydrangea paniculata

Hydrangea paniculata is a species of hydrangea that has regained popularity in modern landscapes. Strikingly beautiful, easy, reliable, and fast-growing, H. paniculata produces gracefully arching branches and pyramidal clusters of white, then pink-tinged to dusty purple blooms. The name “paniculata” comes from the panicle (cone) shaped blooms.

Paniculatas can grow very large, with the largest plants growing over ten feet in height and width. Larger ones such as ‘Limelight’ are glorious in the summer months. Dixon visitors will remember their blooms lining the walkway of the Whispering Bench Allee. The smaller ones, such as ‘Pink Diamond’ punctuate a perennial grouping in the Dixon border with showy flowers in a rich pink from the end of June through the middle of September.

To prune hydrangeas effectively, it is important to know the plant’s species because different species can flower on new or old wood. Flowers developing immediately from new growth on new wood of the current season. Paniculatas produce blooms entirely on new wood, so pruning is best accomplished in late winter or early spring, but they can be pruned anytime. 

This plant can be trained as a small single-trunk tree, but is best grown as a large, multi-stemmed shrub. It may display its best shrub form if regularly pruned to a height of 6-10 feet tall. Michael Dirr, noted plantsman, recommends good pruning can make a big difference in the appeal of this plant. Larger flower panicles can be obtained by thinning the plants to 5-10 primary shoots. In full bloom, the weight of the flower panicles will typically cause the branches to arch downward. In the fall, after blooming, leave the nice architectural shape for interest. 

Hydrangea paniculata is happiest planted in organically rich, well-draining soil in full sun to part shade. This is one of the most winter-hardy of the hydrangeas. It thrives in urban conditions. 

Posted by Chantal Drake at 9:52 AM
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