Written by davethetreecenters • October 14 Everything You Need to Know about Cityline® Hydrangeas

As more and more of us live in towns and cities, gardens get smaller. For many, a balcony or terrace is all the outdoor space we have available to grow plants and get closer to nature. Many traditional garden plants grow too large for these smaller spaces, so we need new plants – smaller, easy to care for, but still vibrant and colorful. Hydrangeas have always been greatly loved, and their large, colorful flower heads last so long that they are ideal for these small spaces, because they deliver color and interest for weeks and weeks.

To match our city gardens, top German plant breeders have sent us hydrangeas that give us exactly what we need. After all, Europeans have lived with limited space and small gardens for a long time, so they know what it takes. The Cityline® range of compact hydrangeas has just what we need – compact growth combined with full-sized flower heads, and a range of delicious colors that really hit the spot. For your small garden and planters – or for mass planting in larger gardens – these plants really have what it takes.

Why Choose Cityline® Hydrangeas?

Meet the Cityline® Hydrangeas

The Cityline series of plants are all carefully-bred forms of the traditional mophead hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla. They form compact plants, no more than 2 or 3 feet tall when blooming, with a similar spread, making a rounded bush with large, green leaves, 6 inches long and 4 inches across. With leaves all along the stems, even when not in flower these plants are attractive, and they fill spaces perfectly. Sometimes smaller versions of large plants have equally small, disappointing flowers, but not the Cityline Hydrangea. There full-size flower heads look even larger, because the plants are small, and they literally smother the bush, with a large flower at the end of every stem.

A full 5 inches across, the dome-shaped heads are packed with up to 50 large flowers, each with four petals, and a full 1½ inches across. One of the great things about hydrangeas is how attractive they are through all the stages of flower development, and the Cityline Hydrangeas are no exception. The flower heads begin as beautiful balls of lime-green buds, which gradually expand and open, each flower first a green cup, with a touch of color around the edges of the toothed petals. That color floods the whole flower as they expand and flatten, until we have a full dome of rich color. Depending on the variety and our taste, we can enjoy dark or light pinks, rich blues and purples, or the unique white and blue or white and pink combinations of the variety called ‘Mars’.

What Color Would You Like?

Like other hydrangeas of this type, the exact flower color of your Cityline Hydrangea depends on the pH of your soil. Just how acid or alkaline it is determines what colors develop in the flowers, and it is best to choose varieties that match your conditions. In neutral to alkaline soils, choose pink varieties, like Berlin or Paris, for the richest pure pinks. If you have acid soil, below pH 6.0, then choose Rio, Venice or Vienna, depending on how deep a blue you crave.

Name Color in alkaline soil Color in acid soil
Berlin Light Pink Purple
Paris Rich Pink Purple
Rio Purple Deep Blue
Venice Rich Mauve Mid-blue
Vienna Purple-Pink Light Blue
Mars Pink and White Blue and White

Growing the Cityline® Hydrangea in Your Garden

Like other bigleaf hydrangeas the Cityline Hydrangeas thrive in lower light levels, as well as full sun in cooler zones. In full sun it is important that your plants have access to regular water, and that the soil stays cool, so mulch around the root ball in spring. The idea location has sun in the morning, but shade in the afternoon, so that the hot sun can’t scorch the leaves. Partial shade beneath tall trees is also good, and the shade from a building or fence, with clear sky overhead, is also ideal. In deeper shade you will still have nice foliage, but fewer blooms will develop.

In the garden, dig plenty of organic material into the soil. If you have acid soil, make sure the material you add is free of lime, as that will interfere with the development of good blue flower color. Use plenty of water when you plant, and water every couple of days until the plants become established. Hydrangeas are not drought tolerant, and the best results come in moist but well-drained soil. Rich mulch in spring is very beneficial, and it is a good idea to remove the fallen leaves from the base of the plants in fall, so the stems stay clean and free of debris. Use hydrangea fertilizer regularly, particularly for the blue varieties, which will always give the purest blues if treated with the right fertilizers.

Because of their compact size, this range needs no complex pruning, and in milder areas they can simply be left un-pruned. In spring, when growth is just beginning, take a look at your plants. Cut out any dead stems at the ground, and remove the tips of others, back to the first or second pair of big green buds. These plants flower on older stems, so it is important not to remove more than is necessary. If there are lots of nice buds, and no dead stems, then just leave them be.

Growing the Cityline® Hydrangea in Pots and Planters

If you crave blue, but your soil is alkaline, or if you simply want to have hydrangeas on your terrace or balcony, these plants are ideal. After all, they were originally bred for pot growing, and only later was it realized how well they also did in gardens. While you can struggle to produce good blues in the garden without acid soil, in pots it’s a breeze. Plant into soil blended for acid-loving plants, and use a fertilizer developed and blended for blue hydrangeas. Follow the directions carefully, beginning once you see the first signs of flowers, and you will be rewarded with picture-perfect superb blues. Hydrangeas in pots should be watered whenever the top inch of the planter has become dry, and make sure you have drainage holes. Let some water flow out each time you water, and don’t stand the pot in a saucer full of water. By the way, hydrangea fertilizer will be just fine for other acid-loving plants, so mixed planters of Cityline Hydrangeas, Encore Azaleas, and other companion plants, will all thrive on the same food.