En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - June 02, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Shrubs
Title: What hydrangeas can be grown in Austin?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I was told that oak leaf hydrangea was the only hydrangea variety that could be successfully grown in Austin TX. My oakleaf hydrangea is doing great and I would like to plant other varieties. Can you tell me if a non-oak leaf hydrangea will do well in Austin?

ANSWER:

This particular member of the Mr. Smarty Plants team may very well have been the one who told you that, as I was visiting with attendees of the Wildflower Center Garden Tour. That garden had a beautiful (small) planting of Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea). We fielded many questions from attendees wanting to know if they could grow those here, or other varieties or even non-native varieties. Frankly, that gardener had no doubt done a number of things, including adding a lot of leaf-mold compost, to increase the acidity of that soil. Hydrangeas are very much a soil-dependant plant, and they tend to be native to areas where the leaves from deciduous trees and pine needles have fallen on the ground and slowly decayed for many centuries, contributing to an acid soil. As you can see from this USDA Plant Profile map, oakleaf hydrangea is not even native to Texas at all, although they do grow well introduced into East Texas. Follow the plant link above to read all about this plant, including these two lines:

"Soil Description: Moist, fertile, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Susceptible to sunscald, chlorosis in alkaline soils, and winter dieback."

Our Native Plant Database has two other hydrangeas native to North America, Decumaria barbara (Decumaria) (not a true hydrangea but a member of the same family), which grows natively in the same areas as oakleaf hydrangea; the other is Hydrangea arborescens (Wild hydrangea), which grows to the north and east of Texas, but not in Texas, itself.

We know that a number of hydrangeas are sold by nurseries, most of which, we are sure, are non-natives or extensively hybridized, so we have no information on them in our Native Plant Database. Because we can't help you with those, here are two articles we found that might be of use. Remember,  most of those named are hybrids or non-natives.

Planting and Transplanting Hydrangeas

All About Hydrangeas

 

From the Image Gallery


Oakleaf hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia

Decumaria
Decumaria barbara

Wild hydrangea
Hydrangea arborescens

More Soils Questions

Wisconsin Ground Cover for Acid Soil
July 09, 2012 - What type of native wisconsin ground cover plants do best on acidic bare areas under pine trees such as blue spruce?...and where is best source for these plants or seeds? Thanks so much for your help
view the full question and answer

Changing the pH of the soil
January 16, 2012 - Hi, We have a job that has mostly Texas native plants on it. The architect is wanting to drop the pH levels of the soils to acidic levels that we don't feel is good for the plants and the area. ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion at edge of driveway in Abilene TX
August 26, 2011 - My lawn suffered a great loss of grass over the winter and the soil at the edge of the driveway is washing away with watering and the occasional rains that we have. I am trying to get the grass to gr...
view the full question and answer

Native grass mix for Bastrop County, TX
February 25, 2014 - I plan to put in a small lawn on a tract of land near Rosanky, TX in Bastrop County. There are scattered oaks but the yard space will be mostly open. Soil is basically sandy. Is there a good native...
view the full question and answer

Leaf drop from maple tree in Minnesota
August 15, 2008 - I have about a 30 ft maple tree in my yard, last fall I trimmed it pretty good because the branches were getting low where you could not walk under it or get grass to grow. This is the 2nd time in abo...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center