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

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Sunday - June 24, 2012

From: Traverse City, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting, Shrubs
Title: Care for non-native hybrid hydrangea from Traverse City, MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We just planted some new Hydrangea (Summer Beauty) that we bought at a local nursery. The plants are about 3' tall with blooms on the stalks. The blooms appear to be top-heavy as most all the stalks are lying on the ground. We know we'll need to cut them back to 2"-3" this fall..but we want to enjoy them this summer. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which they grow natively. There are two hydrangeas native to North America, Hydrangea arborescens (Wild hydrangea) and Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea). Neither is native to Michigan.

We searched on the Hydrangea microphylla which is apparently the base plant for your bushes. It originated in Japan and Korea. We found one indication that the hybrid 'Summer Beauty' had been developed in Holland, but no documentation.

Anyway, since we obviously cannot help you much, read this United States National Arboretum website Hydrangea Questions and Answers. When we scanned the article, we saw no reference to weak stems and blooms lying on the ground, but perhaps you will get some leads from that article. Our personal belief is that the bushes are suffering from transplant shock. They may have been in the pot in the nursery for too long, or in too much sun, or damaged when they were planted. You might even consider pruning off the weak stems; since this plant apparently reblooms pretty vigorously, it might pull out and get some healthy blooms and stems later in the summer.

 

From the Image Gallery


Wild hydrangea
Hydrangea arborescens

Oakleaf hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia

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