Hydrangeas are among the best flowering shrubs for color in summer and fall. Their blooms last and last, often changing color as they develop and age. For gardeners in colder areas, and for extra interest in the garden in warmer ones, panicle hydrangeas are a top choice, because they are perfectly hardy right down to minus 40 degrees. As well, with their conical flower heads on arching stems, and their interesting color changes, they look very different from the classic, rounded mophead hydrangeas grown in warmer zones.
There is one potential problem with these plants, and that is their large size. Most reach at least 6 feet tall, and many can grow over 10 feet if they are not regularly pruned. So if you have a smaller garden, or are looking for plants for a small space, or even a planter box, panicle hydrangeas are usually not suitable. Well we can forget all that – because now there is the Little Quick Fire® Hydrangea, a new smaller selection of panicle hydrangea that is perfect for smaller gardens, smaller spaces, and planters or pots.
Growing Little Quick Fire Hydrangeas
Smaller size is just the first of the many advantages this new plant brings us. It is also the earliest panicle hydrangea in bloom – a full month before traditional types, and even earlier than its parent, Quick Fire, which has already been wowing gardeners with its early bloom time. Because hydrangea flowers last so long, earlier blooming adds weeks to the blooming period – it doesn’t mean they stop sooner.
In keeping with its smaller size, Little Quick Fire has smaller flower heads too, so the balance is preserved. It begins blooming white, but by late summer it is showing beautiful pink tones, and as fall arrives it takes on vibrant shades of reddish-purple, among the deepest and richest tones of any panicle hydrangea available. Taken all together, these features mean a winning plant that you will love to grow – and that’s also very easy to grow.
Size and Appearance
The Little Quick Fire Hydrangea forms a rounded shrub, between 3 and 5 feet tall. It has large oval green leaves that turn golden yellow in fall. The new shoots have hardly emerged in spring before you begin to see small green clusters at their ends. These quickly expand into cone-shaped fat flower heads of about 75 flowers. The flower heads are about 6 inches long – a perfect size for a smaller bush. The flowers begin greenish-white, but quickly turn pure-white, making a lovely showing in your garden, and standing out beautifully.
The flower heads develop a full month before those of a typical panicle hydrangea, such as the well-known PG hydrangea. This extends the hydrangea season in your garden, and provides color and interest in early summer, as soon as your spring blooms are over. By late summer the blooms have begun to develop pink tones, and as fall arrives they turn rich red-purple colors, making a stunning display.
Plant your Little Quick Start Hydrangea in sun or partial shade. It will grow well in either, and in hotter zones afternoon shade is beneficial in preserving the flowers. This tough, easy plant will grow well in any well-drained garden soil, and benefits from some slow-release shrub fertilizer applied in spring. Water new plants regularly, but established plants can handle normal summer drought periods.
The only care needed for this easy-to-grow shrub is some simple pruning in spring. Wait until you see the buds beginning to sprout and then prune. First remove any dead or weak pieces, leaving the best and strongest branches. Now shorten back the side shoots that had flowers last year, cutting to just above a pair of strong buds. For many, smaller blooms, and a smaller bush, remove about ¼ of the stem. For larger blooms, remove ⅓ to ½ of the stem. For a taller plant, with the largest blooms, but fewer of them, cut back leaving just a couple of buds. Flowers can be left all winter, for winter interest, or trimmed off before the first snow arrives.
History and Origins of the Little Quick Fire Hydrangea
The Little Quick Fire Hydrangea was created by Timothy D. Wood, a notable breeder of hydrangeas, based at Spring Lake, Michigan. In 2004 he collected seed from a plant of the Quick Fire® Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata `Bulk`) and grew a batch of seedlings at the Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Michigan. In 2009 he saw one seedling that was much smaller than the others, a perfect plant covered in blooms. This became the Little Quick Fire Hydrangea, which was patented to protect its unique qualities in 2014.
Buying Little Quick Fire Hydrangeas at The Tree Center
All of our plants are produced by a licensed grower, so you know they really are this very special plant. There is enormous interest in this new variety, because it is so suitable for smaller gardens and container growing, so our stock will not last long! If you like this plant, we encourage you to browse other special varieties of hydrangea that we have in stock, including the Nikko Blue Hydrangea and the Penny Mac Hydrangea.