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Gardening Tips: Growing The Best Hydrangeas For Chicago

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Showy, long blooming hydrangeas are old fashioned favorites in the garden and newer cultivars are more adaptable and easier to grow. I’m Lisa Hilgenberg from Chicago Botanic Garden with gardening tips for the week.

Siting the right hydrangea- properly insures bodacious blooming that we all love. ‘Anabelle’ hydrangeas can do with a bit of shade. Plant in uniformly moist soil for their show of softball sized flowers. Failure to bloom or leggy plants means they are planted in too much shade or have been improperly pruned.

The panicle hydrangea is a hardy choice for Chicago. Locate ‘Grandiflora’, ‘Pink Diamond’ or ‘Limelight’ with chartreuse flowers in part shade or sun and give them plenty of room. PeeWee is more compact with conical flowers. The panicle hydrangeas bloom on new wood each year so prune in early spring without danger of cutting off new flower buds.

The oakleaf hydrangea is a top notch plant for the landscape. ‘Snow Queen’ has huge pyramidal clusters of white flowers blushing to pink then brown. Handsome oakleaf shaped leaves turn deep reddish bronze in fall and flowers persist. Cinnamon brown peeling bark adds winter interest. Next year’s buds are setting now, meaning it flowers on old wood, needing little pruning other than removing winter killed branches.

Cut hydrangea flowers can be used fresh or in dried arrangements.


Lisa Hilgenberg is the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden Horticulturist. She teaches classes for the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden and mentors interns from the Garden’s urban agriculture programs in the summer. Lisa draws on a rich family farming tradition, having spent many summers on her grandparents’ farms in Iowa and Minnesota. You can follow Lisa on Twitter @hilgenberg8.

Want more gardening tips?  You can read other online articles or listen to previous podcast episodes from WBBM Newsradio’s Gardening Tips segment.
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