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Hydrangeas 101: Kinds of hydrangeas

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Hydrangeas are beautiful, popular and confusing all at the same time – thankfully, Proven Winners and contributor Stacey Hirvela are trying to help take some of the confusion out of these pretty plants by giving us a “glossary” of hydrangea types – check out the full article here.

Bigleaf (or big-leaf) hydrangea – one of many common names for Hydrangea macrophylla; also called French hydrangea, garden hydrangea, and Florist’s hydrangea (this term may refer to either the plants or to the cut flower stems).

Hortensia – common name for “mophead” forms of Hydrangea macrophylla; also the French and Spanish word for hydrangea.

Mountain hydrangea – relatively new to North American gardeners, mountain hydrangea (the common name for Hydrangea serrata) is similar to bigleaf hydrangea (H. macrophylla) in terms of its rich pink or blue flower colors and attractive, dark green foliage. However, mountain hydrangea has better bud hardiness than bigleaf hydrangea, making it a better choice for zone 5 gardeners who often lose their hydrangea flowers to late winter cold snaps.

Smooth hydrangea –most widely-used common name for Hydrangea arborescens; also called wild hydrangea and sevenbark.

Annabelle – a specific variety of smooth hydrangea that was discovered near Anna, Illinois in the 1960s – it was the first smooth hydrangea with mophead flowers. It has become so widely grown since its introduction that ‘Annabelle’ has incorrectly become a common name used to describe any smooth hydrangea.

Oakleaf hydrangea – common name for Hydrangea quercifolia, a North American native hydrangea with large, cone-like white flowers and large leaves that resemble those of the oak tree; widely grown for excellent autumn color, unusual peeling bark and its showy blooms.

Panicle hydrangea – most accurate common name for Hydrangea paniculata.

PeeGee hydrangea – often used as a common name for panicle hydrangea; however, the “PeeGee” nickname comes from paniculata ‘Grandiflora,’ a very old, specific variety of panicle hydrangea introduced in France in the 1860s and still available today. Since “PeeGee” only refers to this variety, panicle hydrangea is a more appropriate common name.

Climbing hydrangea – common name for Hydrangea anomala subsp. Petiolaris – a woody vine that climbs up trees, walls, or any solid structure. It is native to Asia and is grown for its attractive foliage, unique vine habit and fragrant white flowers.

Reblooming – many hydrangeas have the capacity to rebloom (bloom at their normal, expected time and then bloom again later in the same season), but this is a recent development for bigleaf hydrangeas – only those sold as rebloomers will actually display this capacity.

Compact hydrangeas – compact (sometimes seen as dwarf) hydrangeas are smaller versions of their bigger kin - because they stay small, there is no temptation or need to prune them, eliminating the pruning errors that so often complicate hydrangeas.

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