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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.

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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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Friday - July 09, 2010

From: Saratoga Springs, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Soils, Shrubs
Title: Plants to replace hydrangeas in a wet area in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Smarty, Two years ago I planted 4 Endless Summer Hydrangas in front of the front porch of my summer cottage on Saratoga Lake. The first year they struggled the second they are limp. Can you give me a Hydranga that would be able to withstand lake front winds as well as extreme cold? I tried protecting the plants,but to no avail. I want something that flowers and is strong. The soil is good, but does get a abundance of water since we're by a natural spring.

ANSWER:

The Endless Summer hydrangea is a variety of Hydrangea macrophylla, a native of Korea and Japan.  Since our focus and expertise here at the Wildflower Center is with plants native to North America, we can't really be of much help with your Endless Summer hydrangea except to tell you that although it likes moist soil, it also like well-drained soil.  There are two native hydrangeas—Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea), native to the southeastern US, and Hydrangea arborescens (wild hydrangea), which is native to New York and most of the eastern part of the US.  It does grow in moist soil, but, again, it needs to be well-drained. So, I don't think you are going to be able to use hydrangeas there unless you can find a cultivated one that can tolerate having constantly wet feet.  Nonetheless, I can recommend a few New York native shrubs that that can tolerate an excess of water and do bloom.

Hibiscus moscheutos (crimsoneyed rosemallow)

Rosa palustris (swamp rose)

Kalmia angustifolia (sheep laurel)

Kalmia polifolia (bog laurel)

Ledum groenlandicum (bog Labrador tea)

Rosa acicularis (prickly rose)

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)


Hibiscus moscheutos

Rosa palustris

Kalmia angustifolia

Kalmia polifolia

Ledum groenlandicum

Rosa acicularis

Spiraea alba

 

 

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