Welcome to the chance to move away from the traditional pink or blue color choice with hydrangeas. The Summer Crush® Hydrangea is a compact bush, ideal for smaller gardens and planters, that has raspberry red blooms in alkaline soil, and neon purple blooms in acid soil – a new palette to play with. Not only that, this plant is super-hardy, and it will bloom well even if the branches are killed to the ground in winter. Now gardeners in zones 4 and 5 can enjoy the summer beauty of mophead hydrangeas –and without the fuss of trying to change their color, because all the choices are wonderful. In warmer zones it will bloom in early summer, and then re-bloom in late summer and into fall – no wonder it is proudly part of the Endless Summer® group of hydrangeas.
Hydrangeas have come a long way in recent years, especially when it comes to growing the beautiful mophead types in colder parts of the country. Starting with the original ‘Endless Summer’, which has now been improved on by Bloomstruck®, we have beautiful plants that flower not just on old wood, in the classic way, but also on new spring shoots from the base, meaning that even if your plants are killed to the ground, you can look forward to a lovely summer and early fall display. Until now, though, we were still looking at the classic choice between pink or blue, depending on the soil you have and the care you give. No longer. With the Summer Crush® Hydrangea a whole new color range has opened up, because this plant gives us a new choice between raspberry red blooms and rich neon purple ones – it’s no longer just about pink or blue.
The Summer Crush® Hydrangea grows into a compact, rounded shrub, just 18 inches tall in colder areas, and reaching perhaps 3 feet tall in warmer ones. The large green leaves are classic mophead hydrangea leaves – thick, rounded, and a rich deep-green, with a soft ‘saw-tooth’ effect along the edges. They cover the stems to the ground, keeping this plant dense and green when not in flower. The blooms are carried at the ends of the branches, both on new shoots that develop from the base of the plant in spring, and on side shoots that come from older stems that have overwintered. This means that in warmer climates you will see two batches of bloom, one in early summer and one in late summer, and in colder zones 4 and 5, a full flush of blooms in late summer.
Growing Summer Crush® Hydrangeas
Each full, rounded head of flowers is almost 8 inches across when mature, and 5 inches deep, making a great display. Hydrangea flowers are of two kinds – fertile and sterile. The fertile flowers are tiny, without petals, and the sterile ones are showy, with 4 or 5 broad, flat petals. There are about 160, 2-inch wide sterile flowers in each head of the Summer Crush® Hydrangea, creating a dense, full flower display, and there may be many heads on a single plant – what a show! If you look inside the blossoms you will see the tiny sterile flowers too, hidden away. When it first forms the flower head is pale green, and it gradually turns red or purple as it develops. After several weeks the colors darken, increasingly flushed with dark green, but these blooms are attractive for a full 6 months of the year, before withering. Even in winter they give a charming look, frosted and dusted with snow.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant the Summer Crush® Hydrangea in full sun or partial shade. It will grow best in cool zones in full sun, or with a little afternoon shade, while in hotter zones it will appreciate shade in the afternoon, or light dappled shade beneath deciduous trees. The shadow zone on the north-side of a building or fence is also a good place to grow hydrangeas. Plant in moist but well-drained fertile soil and use organic mulches in spring to feed the plant and conserve moisture. Using fertilizers blended for hydrangea growing will give the best results, and they are important if you are growing your plants in containers. The pH of your soil – its acid or alkaline balance – will determine the color of your blooms. On acid soil, with a pH below 5.5, the blooms will be a rich, neon purple color. On neutral and alkaline soils, they will be raspberry red to deep pink. It is much easier to control the pH of your soil in containers, using suitable fertilizers than it is in your garden, but with the choice between one great color and another, does it even matter? Just sit back and enjoy what comes.
History and Origins of the Summer Crush® Hydrangea
The Summer Crush® Hydrangea is a variety of the mophead hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla. This beautiful bush came from China and Japan 150 years ago, where it had been grown for centuries. Summer Crush® was created by the renowned horticultural expert Dr. Michael Dirr and his associates. He created the range of hydrangea bushes known as Endless Summer®, using detailed breeding and selection techniques. One of his most successful plants is the Bloomstruck® variety (officially called ‘PIIHM-II`), the most cold-resistant one of them all. In 2013 he took pollen from that plant and used it to fertilizer a hydrangea called ‘Hot Red’ and produced several seedlings from the seeds he got. One of them was outstanding, and he called it ‘Bailmacfive’.
That plant is sold as Summer Crush®, for its delicious crushed raspberry color in ordinary soil. The plant was patented in early 2019, after extensive trials for hardiness and reliability. Our plants are produced for us under license by Bailey Nurseries, and they are guaranteed to be exactly that special plant. You can have the pleasure of growing a re-blooming hydrangea that really will re-bloom, and really will flower reliably in colder areas. You can also escape the old pink/blue choice, but you need to order now, as our stock of this very desirable variety is limited, and it is going fast.