Gardening: Scouting out the right variety of Hydrangea

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

When it comes to flowering shrubs, hydrangeas rank No. 1 with many Michigan homeowners. The Holy Grail for many Michiganders is the bodacious mop head also called Big Leaf or florist hydrangea (H. macrophyllas), which sports large clusters of pink, red or blue flowers.

Several years ago, a variety was introduced that was said to be a hardy grower that would rebloom throughout the growing season here in Michigan, but sadly for many of us, that just didn’t happen.

This year I’m starting a new hydrangea collection in the Stone House garden behind the OPC in Rochester, and among the first plantings are two hydrangea macrophyllas that I am certain will produce oodles of beautiful flowers.

Hydrangea ‘L.A. Dreamin’ is the favorite of Darrell Youngquest, nursery buyer for English Gardens, who grows several of them in his own suburban garden. When I toured there last July, every one was covered with fabulous blooms. What’s even more amazing about this variety is it produces blue, pink and purple clusters on a single plant and the combinations are stunning.

‘L.A. Dreamin’ climbs to 48 inches in height with about the same spread. Introduced by Ball Ornamentals, it was discovered here in Michigan.

If you wish to have more intense blue and mauve colors, amend your soil with Canadian sphagnum peat moss and add aluminum sulfate when planting, according to package directions.

My Hydrangea ‘Bloomstruck’ planted next to my patio in the fall of 2014 was covered in gorgeous clusters of blue to purple blossoms last summer. At maturity it should climb to 31/2 feet tall and spread to 41/2 feet in width. So ‘Bloomstruck’ will be added to my new hydrangea collection.

Here in Michigan, reblooming hydrangeas are said to thrive in five to six hours of sun, spending their afternoons in the shade in an area that is protected from high winds. They should be planted in organic rich soil – I’ll be adding a combination of Canadian sphagnum peat moss, compost and composted pine bark to the backfill soil. I’ve become a huge fan of using Mychorriza and beneficial microbes when planting, so I’ll dust Assure Transplant Success granules on the root ball and in the planting hole. It’s available at English Gardens, Van Attas in Haslett and Soulliere Garden Center in St. Clair Shores.

Appearances: Join me and learn “More Secrets to Making Plant Magic” at 1 p.m. Saturday at United Plant Center and Gift Shop, 62170 Van Dyke Road, Washington, MI. For information call 888-929-4282.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnewscom/homestyle.