Success with Hydrangeas

The book every hydrangea lover should have


The book answers the questions everybody asks, like “Why won’t it bloom?


Dozens of new gardening books hit the shelves every season. Many are beautifully designed and enjoyable to read, but most gardeners don’t really need them. Sometimes, however,  a book comes along that answers a serious need. This is one.


Here’s why:

Success with Hydrangeas explains the different species clearly and succinctly. Unfortunately, too many consumers simply buy a “hydrangea,” without any clear idea of what type it is, thereby dooming themselves to failure. There are dramatic differences between the types; these differences govern, among other things, pruning needs. Improper pruning is the main reason most hydrangeas fail to bloom.


It identifies which species are best for areas like ours, with cold winters. As author Lorraine Ballato explains, “Hydrangea macrophylla [the big leaf mopheads everyone buys] is the species that has the most cultivars in the market … There are two main reasons for this: one is its enormous popularity; it’s simply a showstopper with a buying public that seems insatiable. The second is its sensitivity to cold temperatures.”



In her chapter on hydrangea paniculata, Ballato gives the good news for cold climate gardeners right away: “Many … are cold hardy right down to zone 3, a zone in which other hydrangeas would simply freeze to death. Their best feature is that they bloom on new wood, making them foolproof.” Ballato also points cold-climate growers in the directions of hydrangea petiolaris (climbing hydrangea), hydrangea serrate (a cold-hardy variety very similar to the macrophylla) and hydrangea arborescens (a US native that blooms on new wood) and “laughs at cold temperatures.”


The book answers the questions everybody asks:

When to prune? Why won’t it bloom? Should I fertilize? How to transplant? How to protect from wildlife? If you’ve ever wondered about any of these issues, the information is here and it’s easy to find.


Hydrangeas continue to be one of the most popular—and problematic—shrubs in Western New York. If you want to stop worrying about yours, this is the book to get.    


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