Hydrangea companion plants

jessk(7)March 1, 2008

I'd love to plant a hydrangea in the front of our new house, on the right hand side. I was wondering what kind of other plants will go well with hydrangea. I was kind of thinking that I'd like to stick with a blue/purple-fuschia color scheme. I'm also contemplating window boxes under each of the closed porch windows to really help make it feel more welcoming and friendly. Any suggestions?

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I like to use pink shrub roses, daylilies, lavender, pink carnations, and Shasta daisies for color. I also use Inkberry, Holly, and Cherry Laurel for evergreens to "multi-season" the plantings. That works well in my area and with the summer coastal clientel that I am often working for.

That is not to say that it is the best way or the only way.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 2:20PM
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Back when I lived where deer wouldn't eat my hydrangea, I used heuchera, hosta and astilbe. I'm assuming this is a part-shade to shady site, not sunny.

For evergreen shrubs in the mix, I used Pieris Japonica (deer don't bother those around here). If you want winter fragrance, Winter Daphne is evergreen. Some folks have trouble getting it to survive, but the trick is to plant daphne high and dry on a small mound while the other shade plants that I've mentioned like more moisture.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 5:25PM
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What kind of Hydrangea - one of the Endless Summer types or the old fashioned white mopheads?

Well, there are always azaleas - so beautiful in Maryland - overdone, perhaps, but a great plant nonetheless. In blues/purples there are the nepetas, Veronicas, salvias, Russian Sages, shades of pink dianthus with grey foliage (Fire Witch and many more), sedums with lavender/green foliage and dusty rose flower heads, old fashioned huecheras when they were just called Coral Bells - some of the new varieties don't do well in my zone, but the old ones are real troopers as a border plant. Don't know if the ubiquitous potentilla has fallen out of favor as a flowering shrub, but "Pink Beauty" was a good performer for me - true pink when the temps hovered around our normal summer highs of about 80, a little creamier in higher temps. Also seems to be available in pure white, yellow, and a red.

Window boxes are nice with a mix for height and something cascading. Is this a duplex? Only reason I'm asking is if there'd be a balance issue of right side to left side.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 6:53PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions and help. I should have added more information. It is 1/2 of a duplex. It is full sun. I was considering the endless summer hydrangea. Some sources indicate that they will be OK in full sun and others seem to suggest that they need shade. I have a tree (15' dogwood)approximately 8-10 feet away from where I would place my hydrangea)in the front yard, but I'm not sure if it would provide much shade. Is there anything with similar features (LOTS of flowers, visual interest into the fall, soft look) that might suit this spot better?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 9:01PM
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We plant them in everything from full sun to medium shade - zone 6.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 9:36PM
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The 'Endless Summer' type of hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is a plant that is best suited to a part shade location. They can be grown in full sun but will typically experience daily wilting in summer that will unnecessarily stress the plant, especially in areas that have hot summers. Even in the very mild and relatively cool summers of the PNW, shade is a recommended location for these. Hydrangea paniculata or arborescens are more adaptable to a full sun location, but these offer only white flowers.

Specific plant selection is often something best left to locals.......issues like climatic suitability, soil conditions and potential invasivenss can come into play that are overlooked or unknown in such a wide forum. A visit to a good local garden center as the season progresses should help you with candidates for this situation, as would a visit to any local public gardens or arboreta.

Purple-blue is a hard color to obtain from a flowering shrub and for a full sun location. Rose of Sharon is a possibility, as would be Caryopteris (aka blue mist spirea), but pink (even fuchsia or magenta) is a lot easier. Maybe focus on pink as flower color for the shrubs and accent with perennials or annuals - as suggested above - for the purple-blue color you seek. Hardy geranuims are a good source for this - very easy to grow, adaptable to a very wide range of growing conditions and and with a very long bloom season. Look for 'Rozanne', the 2008 Perenial Plant of the Year, and for good reason. If you include roses in your choices for pink/magenta flowers, hardy geraniums are one of the best companion plants.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 9:14AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Without reading all of above (and checking to see if I'm repeating someone else's remarks) I'll say the two basic needs will be for plants that flower at the same time as the hydrangea and for plants that provide structure. A good way to get the latter would be to have some evergreens (preferably broad-leaved) grouped near the corner of the house, with the hydrangea and friends between the corner and the door.

It would also be worthwhile to plan it so that the floral display built around the hydrangea breaks down into an even split between round flowers and those with a spike shape. As this is a small space and many hydrangeas grow fairly large (a small-growing cultivar should be chosen, if available in the desired color - even one specimen of a kind of mophead hydrangea of normal stature will overwhelm this area in time - visually if not physically) it may be necessary for most or even all of the accompanying flowers to be spike-shaped in order to have a pleasant balance.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 6:56PM
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Hydrangea macrophylla hortensis compacta has a nice deep blue-purple color, but might be difficult to get.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:11PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

From the "Encyclopedia of Hydrangeas," (Van Gelderen -2004), "An invalid name used for more than one clone, such as 'Glowing Embers', 'Parzifal', 'Monink', and the trademark PINK AND PRETTY. The word compacta must not be used for names after 1959

Here is a link that might be useful: PlantFiles: Detailed information on Bigleaf Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Mophead Hydrangea macrophylla 'Compacta'

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 8:07PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Deciduous shrubs generally make poor foundation plants in my opinion and I love Hydrangeas.
Here's one in my garden called 'Weiderspink'.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 8:24AM
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In zone 7, you will need to plant Hydrangea macrophylla in at least part sun/part shade. Hydrangea quercifolia (which is a fantastic shrub and less susceptible to late Spring freezes taking out the summer's bloom) can take much more sun (6 hours at least), but it still likes to be shielded from direct harsh afternoon sun.

Some substitution suggestions:

- Clethra (white/pink fragrant flowers in Spring, foliage colors in Fall)
- Loropetalum (many new culivars of varying sizes and growth rates, many have purple foliage, nice vase shape, raspberry colored flowers in Spring, semievergreen)
- Viburnum 'Mohawk' (Fragrant pink flowers in Spring, Leaves color up in Fall)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 10:12AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I continue to wonder about the repeated endorsements of Loropetalum from/for USDA 7 as this is not hardy in England* or here in our similarly cool part of USDA 8. Presumably the hot southeastern summers harden it off better than in our cool climate(s). Or is it just another case of something being pronounced a good bet because it survives for 5 or 10 years?

*Of course in the mildest areas on the coast it probably is, a few places in UK are as high as USDA 11

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 7:18PM
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Wow! Your responses have been amazing. Very educational and helpful. Here's the part where you're going to kick me...The ENTIRE rest of our property is varying degrees of part-full shade. I've decided that, in the interest of not killing a plant, probably after fussing incessantly with if for a year or two, I'll just line my driveway with hydrangeas and talk to a local nursery about something better for the front yard. It shouldn't be too as I'm pretty easy to please. Thank you again to everyone who gave such great advice.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 7:21PM
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JessK: If you line your driveway with hydrangeas, please research their pruning requirements before you do. H. arborescens is typically pruned to the ground each Spring (alot of maintenance if you have alot of these plants to tend) and H. macrophylla often gets this treatment too if late Spring freezes zap the emerging buds (which occurs every few years or so). H. quercifolia does not typically need any pruning.

Bboy: Loropetalums have survived 15 years in my hot southeastern garden and are still going strong. I seem to remember Tony Avent of Plant Delights talking about this phenomenon of some plants not being hardy in the Pacific NW, but being completely hardy here. If I remember correctly, the hot summer helps the plant store up sugars (?) that allow the plant to withstand the harsher winters here.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 10:13AM
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