Preziosa Mountain HydrangeaHydrangea macrophylla ‘Preziosa'
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Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Preziosa'
Outdoor Growing zone
The Preziosa Hydrangea is a unique plant with flowers whose color is not affected by the acid or alkaline balance of your soil. The blooms pass from pale green through yellow to white, and then turn pink, then red and finally burgundy. The leaves change too beginning purple in spring, turning green for summer and then deep burgundy in fall – rare in hydrangeas. A compact 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, it’s ideal for beds and borders, lining a path or drive, or for growing in planters and containers.
Grow the Preziosa Hydrangea in partial shade, with some sheltered from the full heat of the sun. In cool zones it will grow in full sun with moist soil. The soil should be moist, rich, but well-drained, and it doesn’t matter what the pH value is. Pests or diseases are normally absent, and some mulch, summer watering and dead-heading are all the care it needs.
One of the frustrating experiences of gardening is planting a lovely hydrangea and then discovering that within a couple of years the flowers have changed color completely. We know that this is because of the acid/alkaline balance of the soil, but not all hydrangeas are affected. If you want to grow a beautiful hydrangea which will do what we claim it does, whatever your soil, then you need the Preziosa Hydrangea. This plant is unique in several ways, but an important one is how it does its thing the same way in all types of soils, from acid to alkaline. That ‘thing’ is to change colors progressively through the season, so it never looks quite the same from one week to the next. The flowers on this compact bush open a delicate green, quickly turning yellow, cream and then pure white. As the season continues they begin to turn pink, darkening to reds and finishing burgundy. The leaves join in for that final phase, turning burgundy as well, making a great climax to a season of changes.
The Preziosa Hydrangea is a deciduous shrub with a rounded, well-branched form that grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. The oval leaves are about 5 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide, with a toothed edge. In spring the new leaves are tinted purple, maturing to a dark green color for summer, and then turning burgundy-purple in fall.
This hydrangea flowers on older stems from previous years, and the blooms develop by early to mid-summer. They remain attractive for weeks, right into fall. Each flower head is between 4 and 8 inches across, depending on age and growing conditions, with many 4-petaled flowers making a rounded, mophead style bloom. The individual flowers are large, between 1½ and 2 inches across, with a full, rounded form and slightly serrated edges. As the flowers first open they are an attractive pale green, which turns first yellow, then cream and then pure white. They last white for some time, and then turn to a lovely warm, glowing pink with a purplish tone. As summer comes to an end and the cooler weather of fall arrives, they turn to red tones, darkening to a deep burgundy at the same time as the leaves turn. You never know what each day will bring, but it will always be beautiful – and reliable in all soils.
The compact size of this bush makes it ideal for the foreground or middle-ground of shrub beds, and it is small enough to use in smaller gardens and confined spaces. Grow it alone or in groups, spacing plants about 2 feet apart. It also makes a lovely edging along a pathway or drive, or against a fence or wall. It is also excellent for planter boxes and tubs, overwintering outdoors in warmer zones.
The Preziosa Hydrangea flowers on older wood, so any significant winter damage will limit or destroy its ability to flower. It is normally fully hardy from zone 6 to zone 9, and it can also be grown and flowered in zone 5 if planted in a sheltered spot and protected with mulch and burlap. Some protection is also good insurance in the coldest parts of zone 6.
Partial shade is ideal for the Preziosa Hydrangea, with some morning sun and then protection from the hot midday and early afternoon sun. Particularly in cooler zones it will grow in full sun, but the soil must be rich and moist. Too much shade will reduce flower production. The soil should be rich with organic material, well-drained but moist. This plant is not drought resistant, and regular watering is needed during the summer months especially. Unlike most hydrangeas, its flower color is not affected by the acid or alkaline balance of the soil.
This plant rarely has problems with pests or diseases and it is easy to grow. Mulch in spring with some rich compost to conserve moisture and feed your plant. Remove the dead flowers in late fall, cutting back to the first pair of strong buds on the stem. Remove any dead or weak branches in spring, but otherwise do not prune or trim, as this can easily destroy flowering.
The big-leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla, grows wild in China and Japan. Botanists also recognize another similar plant, growing in mountainous areas of Korea and Japan, and so often called the mountain hydrangea. Some consider it a separate species – Hydrangea serrata – while most today see it as a subspecies of the big-leaf hydrangea, and so call Hydrangea macrophylla ssp. serrata. This matters when we look at the Preziosa Hydrangea, because many experts think it is a cross between these two plants. That could make it an interspecific hybrid (Hydrangea macrophylla x serrata), or just a form of the big-leaf hydrangea, which today is considered more likely.
Whatever botanists want to call it, we do know that this plant was developed by the famous German nurseryman and plant breeder, Georg Arends. He gave us many beautiful perennials, such as Astilbe and border phlox. Arends died in 1952, so it was probably his daughter, Ursula, who released ‘Preziosa’ under her father’s name in 1961.
This unique hydrangea is a real winner, and perfect for any garden, whatever the soil’s pH. These more specialized hydrangeas are not often available, so order now, because many hydrangea lovers are on the lookout for it, and it won’t stay on our farm for long at all.