Tuff Stuff® Reblooming Mountain HydrangeaHydrangea serrata 'MAK20' (PP# 24,820)
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Hydrangea serrata 'MAK20' (PP# 24,820)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Tuff Stuff™ Reblooming Mountain Hydrangea is a compact deciduous shrub growing about 3 feet tall and wide, with open branching sprouting from the base. It has smaller leaves than mophead hydrangeas and greater cold resistance. The blooms are large lacecaps, with an outer ring of larger flowers and a center of small ones. The color ranges from dark pink in alkaline soils to purple-blue in very acidic. Flowers come in June on older stems, and then from July to September on new stems.
Plant your Tuff Stuff™ Reblooming Mountain Hydrangea bushes in full sun or partial shade. Too much shade will reduce blooming. The best soil will be moist, well-drained and fertile, but this plant grows well in most gardens. Water regularly in summer, and fertilize and mulch in spring. No pruning is needed or desired – just remove any dead branches or branch tips, once the new growth can be seen. Usually free of pests or diseases.
Hydrangeas have gone through a rebirth in our gardens. For a time we tired of those big, slightly old-fashioned, mophead blooms – especially when they flopped and broke after a rainstorm. But we soon found summer wasn’t the same without hydrangeas, and two trends came together to bring a big revival. First, within a larger move towards more natural looks, we re-discovered the softer appearance of lacecap hydrangeas, with their flatter heads containing a mix of large and small blooms – they don’t collapse when it rains either. Then, our plant breeders overcame the ‘once a year’ habit of the older plants, and figured out how to get them to flower repeatedly over the summer on new stems – a trick that helped northern gardeners finally see abundant blooms on their hydrangeas. We should also mention the need for smaller plants, now that many gardens have become smaller. Combine all these things together and you have the Tuff Stuff™ Reblooming Mountain Hydrangea. It’s pink to purple-blue heads (depending on your soil) are light-weight and beautiful, and this compact bush tops out at no more than 3 feet tall. Instead of just one flush of blooms in June it keeps on pumping them out into early fall, and as a result it’s a much more reliable bloomer in zone 5. Tough? For sure. Beautiful? Absolutely.
The Tuff Stuff Mountain Hydrangea is a unique deciduous shrub related to common hydrangeas, which forms a rounded bush with many sturdy branches from the base. It grows between 2 and 3 feet tall and wide within just a few years. The leaves are smaller than on most other hydrangeas, but similar in appearance. They are 5½ to 6½ inches long and about 4 inches wide, with a rugged texture, serrated edges and of a deep green color. In fall they typically turn yellow.
The first blooms open in June and new flowers keep forming all through the summer, so your bush is still looking attractive in September. The blooms look at their best for at least 4 weeks, lasting all together for 3 months as they naturally age, while staying charming. Each bloom is made up of many small flowers arranged in low dome-shaped to flat heads, about 6 inches across. The center of the head is filled with more than 250 tiny flowers, surrounded by a circle of about 10 larger flowers, 1½ inches across, creating the ‘lacecap’ flower effect. The flower color varies, depending on the acid/alkaline balance of your soil. In alkaline soils they will be a beautiful deep pink color. As the soil becomes more acidic the color shifts, becoming more purple, and in very acidic soils they will be purple-blue. After about a month, as the flowers age, they become more greenish, ending greenish-brown after several months.
For filling your beds with interest and color all summer, this great hydrangea is perfect. For easy gardening it needs no staking, and stands up well during rain and wind. Grow it at the front of large beds, or along a path or driveway. Plant it around trees on a lawn, or in parts of your garden that have mature trees. For mass planting and edging space plants 18 inches apart. It is small enough to grow well in tubs and planters too, to brighten your porch or terrace.
The Mountain Hydrangea is more cold-resistant than mophead hydrangeas, and usually has no significant damage in zone 5 winters. It enjoys summer heat too, and thrives even in zone 9, with minimal winter cold. Even if there is winter damage, because it blooms on new growth you will still enjoy a summer of flowers, starting in July or early August.
In cooler zones the Tuff Stuff Mountain Hydrangea enjoys full sun, which encourages lots of blooms. In warmer areas or drier soils some afternoon shade is valuable, and it will grow well in partial shade. The ideal soil is moist, rich and well-drained, of any pH. Add organic material when preparing the planting spot, and use it as a mulch each spring.
Water regularly during warmer weather, and don’t allow your plant to dry and wilt. Pests or diseases are rarely seen, and this tough plant grows easily in most gardens. It doesn’t need any pruning – just remove any dead pieces in spring, when the new shoots begin to grow, cutting back to a pair of healthy buds. Don’t trim the stems during summer.
It might look like there are just mophead hydrangeas in the world, but there are at least 70 different species of this plant. In the mountains of Japan and Korea you find the mountain hydrangea, Hydrangea serrata, growing in high woodlands. This is why it is more cold-resistant than many other species. Wild plants have flower heads that are almost entirely made of small, fluffy flowers. Ornamental forms have been grown in Japan for a long time, and a variety called ‘Maiko’ has small mophead-type flower heads. Timothy D. Wood, from Spring Lake, Michigan, is a prominent breeder who has worked with Hydrangeas, and in 2005 he collected some seeds from a plant of ‘Maiko’ which had been naturally pollinated. The seedlings were all very different from each other, and in 2009 one caught his eye. It was compact, with lovely lacecap flowers. He named it ‘MAK20’, and it was patented in 2014. It is made available to gardeners with the name Tuff Stuff™, under the Proven Winners® brand of Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc, of Michigan.
Go modern with your hydrangeas – forget those difficult mopheads, or keep them for special spots. For all through your garden, go instead for hydrangeas like this one, that are more cold resistant, bloom all summer, and don’t need staking or picking up after a rainstorm. Order now, though, as this is a very popular variety that always sells out fast.