There are hydrangeas, and then there are hydrangeas. Most people think of the mophead hydrangea, with its rounded, fat heads in pink, blue or white. If you garden in colder areas you will be more likely to know the panicle hydrangeas, with their conical flower heads and white flowers, that often turn pink in the colder days of fall. These are neglected by southern gardeners, but they shouldn’t be. They are hardy, early blooming in the south, and terrific garden plants. There have been many new varieties, and frankly, many are not so great.
Here at the Tree Center we decided to find the best of the new plants – and we believe we have. The White Wedding® Hydrangea combines the best characteristics of two of the most popular varieties, ‘Limelight’ and ‘Phantom’, both of which we also highly recommend. But if you want that look of huge white flower heads, but on a smaller, more upright plant, then here it is.
Growing White Wedding® Hydrangeas
The White Wedding® Hydrangea features very large flower heads, a full 6 inches tall and across, which are more rounded than those in most other panicle hydrangeas, with just a slightly conical center. Every new shoot ends in a flower head, and every flower head is packed with as many as 300 individual flowers, each pure white, with four flat petals. When the flowers are young they are a beautiful soft lime green, turning to white, and staying that way right into fall, without turning pink. These blooms look great in your garden, beginning in late spring in the south, and in mid-summer in the north.
The plant itself is bold and strong, but it only grows 5 or 6 feet tall and wide, unlike many other panicle hydrangeas, that can easily reach over10 feet tall. The stems are very sturdy, and hold the flower heads up in the air, not flopping, as older varieties often do. The leaves are large and light green, turning yellow in fall. You can cut stems for decoration – especially for weddings of course – and for your home, where they will last for weeks. Hang them upside down to dry and they will look beautiful for months and months in vases all winter.
The White Wedding® Hydrangea is easy to grow anywhere. It is completely hardy even in zone 3, making it a great choice for northern gardeners. But it is also heat-resistant, and it also grows well in the south, right into zone 9. It is more sun-tolerant than mophead hydrangeas, and it thrives in full sun or partial shade. In hotter states it should have some afternoon shade, as the leaves may burn in the sun if the plant becomes too dry. It is also suitable for soils of many different kinds, thriving in all but the driest soils. Water regularly when young, to establish a deep root system, which will keep your plant happy during dry periods. If you see the leaves beginning to droop, water deeply immediately. This plant is normally pest and disease free, and very easy to grow.
Care and Maintenance
Since the White Wedding® Hydrangea stays under 6 feet tall, it can be grown without pruning. However, for the largest blooms, and to keep it smaller, prune in spring just as the buds are swelling. Always cut back to just above a group of healthy buds. Remove weak and broken stems, and then cut back the stems in one of three different ways. Simply removing the old flower stems and a couple of inches of older stem will give you the most flowers, but they will not be so big. Cutting back about one-third of the stems will give you slightly fewer flowers, but bigger ones. Cutting back to leave just a couple of inches of stem will give you the biggest flowers, but not so many. You can choose what works best for your needs.
History and Origins of the White Wedding® Hydrangea
The Panicle Hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata, is a plant that is native to south-eastern parts of China, as well as growing in Korea, Japan and eastern Russia. It has been grown in Europe and America as a garden plant for many years, and there have been numerous new, improved varieties developed. Robert E. Lee, from Independence, Louisiana, is a plant breeder famous for his Encore Azaleas, who has also bred other new plants. He grew many seedlings of the panicle hydrangea, collected from many varieties, and among them he found a very special plant, which he named ‘LEEP1’, and patented in 2018. This variety is brand-new, but already it is turning heads, with the promise of being the ultimate panicle hydrangea for smaller spaces. Our plants are produced under license, and sold as White Wedding®, and we know you will love it. These new plants always sell out rapidly, so order now, and enjoy the best.