Panicle hydrangeas, or varieties of Hydrangea paniculata, have skyrocketed in popularity, in large part thanks to growers who have given us more varieties than we ever could have imagined. The Garden Guy is here to tell you that panicle partnerships for the landscape are only limited by your imagination.
If you are wondering “What panicle partnerships? I assure you, you are not alone.
As I drive through the neighborhoods I can tell we look from the shrub down. In other words, we are good at using it against a background of evergreen plants like holly, juniper or magnolias. But incorporating them into the border with flowers must make many gardeners a little uncomfortable.
My first encounter with the possibilities was in the cottage garden when I was director of the Georgia Coast Botanical Gardens in Savannah, GA. I suspect this happened by accident, but our horticultural coordinator was the poster child for creativity, so it could have been planned.
The hydrangea was Little Lime, a more compact or dwarf cousin of the award-winning Limelight. The suit was not far from my office. Imagine my surprise one day walking to my car when there was Little Lime blooming among a cluster of bright orange Crocosmia or Montbretia. Lesson # 1 Here are the white flowers, which are most common in the deep south, will pair with any color you want.
Now my son James, who I mention frequently, is like a fierce tiger when it comes to partnering with all varieties of Hydrangea paniculata. Last year, he used Quick Fire hydrangeas in mixed containers at Landings Mall in Columbus, Georgia. In late spring and early summer, customers didn’t even know they were there. Suddenly, in early August, the containers exploded in color, as if each had been carefully crafted by an artist.
Partners included Luscious Royale Cosmo lantana, Truffula Pink gomphrena and Rockin Fuchsia salvia. There were also mandevillas, whose flowers imitated ancient climbing roses. Lesson # 2 is that Hydrangea paniculatas can also work in containers.
While containers were a bit higher on the challenge scale, planting in an Old Town house was as easy as two plus two, and two was in the partnership. This jumpsuit featured Limelight, the one that sparked all the hydrangea love, as well as a drift or sweep if you will, of Lavender Verbena Meteor Shower. The marriage of the tall, airy verbena and giant white panicle flowers against the blue sky and white clouds was a Kodak moment. Lesson # 3 is that simple combinations can be the most effective.
These combinations encouraged The Garden Guy to have a go at designing hydrangea combinations. I planted the Miss Molly buddleia in the background, with the Fire Light Tidbit hydrangea and the Pugster Amethyst buddleia in the front. Truffula Pink gomphrena has also been added to the pockets. Lesson # 4 is that hydrangeas can function anywhere, including pollinator habitat.
I have always maintained that if these hydrangeas grew in the Caribbean, we would think they were the most wonderful tropics on the planet. So I planted a red Abyssinian banana between a triangular cluster of three newly grown Limelight Prime hydrangeas. In the late afternoon with just the right angle of backlit sun, my gaze takes me to the islands with the sound of gentle waves and steel drums. Lesson # 5 is that Hydrangea paniculata is only limited by your imagination.
Of the 49 varieties of hydrangeas offered by Proven Winners, 13 are selections of Hydrangea paniculata. They are recommended in zones 3 to 8b, which is a large geographic area of ââthe country. As you choose the strains you want, don’t forget to let out your inner Monet. You too can create amazing combinations.