2020 is The Year Of The Hydrangea – Hurray!

Hillside of hydrangeas at Holehird Gardens
Part of the National Collection of Hydrangeas at Holehird Gardens

When I posted yesterday’s picture, I hadn’t realised how on-trend I was. In celebration of this being the Year of the Hydrangea, I want to show the difference between mophead and lacecap hydrangeas.

While mopheads and lacecaps are much the same in growth, habit and overall impression, their flowers have different forms. For most of us, this is a matter of style rather than of botany, as we’re not likely to try to grow hydrangeas from seed.  

Pink mophead hydrangea
This mophead hydrangea has big blowsy flower heads

Mophead hydrangeas have round heads packed with individual florets, much as the name implies. They’re the classical hydrangea flower shape, if you will.

Bright pink lace cap hydrangea
A lacecap hydrangea has a lacy cluster of fertile flowers surrounded by a ring of showy bracts

Lacecap hydrangeas are made up of two types of florets – a flattish, central cluster of tiny, fertile flowers, surrounded by colourful ring of outer florets, designed to attract pollinators. This mix gives lacecaps their starry, ethereal character.

Pink lacecap hydrangea with closed centre buds
Lacecap hydrangea showing the central buds closed
Blue lacecap hydrangea with opening buds
Blue lacecap hydrangea, its central flower buds opening
Lacecap hydrangea with seed
Lacecap hydrangea that has gone to seed wearing autumn colours

The bigger flowers that pack the mopheads and grow around the edge of the lacecaps are bracts rather than flowers, but we don’t need to get into that here. It all depends what type of visual treat you prefer… or you might be like me and enjoy them all.

It wouldn’t be a proper celebration without a little more hydrangea inspiration, would it?

Gallery of Mophead Hydrangeas

Blue mophead hydrangea
My sweetheart thinks a split rail fence can transform a plant – what do you think?
White mophead hydrangea, speckled pink, with blue centers
White mophead hydrangea, speckled pink, with contrasting blue centers
Hydrangeas with a garden bench at Holehird
Hydrangeas in Holehird Gardens’ hillside garden
Hydrangea with pink picotee edge against pale background colour
Mophead hydrangea with pink picotee edge
Hydrangeas along the roadside in Windermere
Hydrangeas from a private cottage garden tumble into the road in Windermere
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Magical Amethyst'
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Magical Amethyst’
Green mophead hydrangea, splashed red
Green mophead hydrangea, splashed red
Arley Hall hydrangeas
Those Arley Hall hydrangeas again!

Gallery Of Lacecap Hydrangeas

Blue lacecap hydrangea shrub

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Gimpel'
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Gimpel’ (lacecap)

When looking at pictures of named hydrangeas, it’s worth bearing in mind that some varieties change colour along the pink – blue line depending on the acidity of the soil, with variations often appearing on the same plant, as seen above. I always think that trying to change the acidity of soil in the long term is a big ask, but if you want to try to change the colour of your flowers, the more acid the soil, the bluer will be the bloom. Hydrangea flowers need to be deprived of aluminium and grown in an alkaline soil to stay pink.

Hydrangea 'Rotschwanz' has pink bracts around blue and cream flowers
Lacecap Hydrangea ‘Rotschwanz’
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Rotschwanz'
A well grown lacecap has an even covering of colour
Hydrangea 'Dark Angel Purple'
Lacecap Hydrangea ‘Dark Angel Purple’

Other Hydrangeas

I ought perhaps to mention that mophead and lacecap hydrangeas are types of bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla). Other widely grown forms of hydrangea include panicle flowered ones (H. paniculata), for example, ‘Limelight’;

Wollerton's canal garden with topiary, annuals and hydrangeas
Hydrangea paniculata line the edges of Wollerton Old Hall’s canal garden

smooth (H. arborescens), for example, ‘Annabelle’;

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' at Bressingham Gardens
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ at Bressingham

and oak leaf (H. quercifolia).

Oak leaf hydrangea
Oak leaf hydrangea

List of Plants of the Year 2020

The Garden Bureau announces their plants of the year in five categories. The full list is:

Annual Plant of the Year 2020 – Lantana
Perennial Plant of 2020 – Lavender
Edible Plant of 2020 – Corn
Bulb of 2020 – Iris
Shrub of 2020 – Hydrangea

The bureau didn’t explain which plant represented which category, no doubt thinking it self-evident, so this is my best guess, although lavender is not perennial in my sweetheart’s Mississippi garden and, in England, where it does grow as a perennial, it’s shrubby in habit.

The Herb Society of America has also announced their herb (actually a species):

Herb of the Year 2020 – rubus spp (bramble or cane fruit such as blackberries, raspberries and dewberries)

43 Replies to “2020 is The Year Of The Hydrangea – Hurray!”

  1. An interesting post with superb photos, I particularly liked the darker colours. There is also H. aspera which has blue pollen!

    1. I always think I like the oak leaf ones best at this time of the year because their autumn foliage is so interesting, but I’ll change my mind when the ‘ordinary’ ones start flowering this summer.

  2. A beautiful collection of hydrangea photos! I like the lacecaps best – used to have a blue one in Scotland. I miss that hydrangea!

  3. Ooh, what a lovely post Susan! Seeing all that colour is uplifting on a grey January day! I love Hydrangeas but need to wait for my trees to grow to give them enough shade. 🙂

    1. You’re right. We went for a long country walk recently and I was looking out for flowers along the way, but they were few and far between.

  4. Hydrangeas are OK, but they are not among my favorites. I have some H. arborescens which has big round mopheads of white flowers. Does well in shade, too.

    1. I’m always drawn to examine the variation and combination of colours in each flower cluster, though that doesn’t really apply to your white H. arborescens.

    1. Magnificent is the perfect word. Though the flowers appear more delicate than that implies, they’re really not. I even like them later in the year when they have gone completely brown or are just threadbare veins.

  5. What a fabulous set of images. I had no idea there are so many varieties of hydrangeas. Perfectly photographed as always.

    1. I wish I knew all their names, but hydrangeas are often not identified and when they are, the label is often sunk underneath a mass of branches.

  6. I just finished pruning them.
    The white ones are of course my favorite. There are only a few, and all are in the same confined landscape. I just relocated the few that were outside of the landscape into that particular landscape. Otherwise, some groups of hydrangeas are blue, and others are pink, depending on how we fertilize them. The pH here is a bit more easily adjusted than in the Santa Clara Valley, where it is difficult to get an old cultivar to bloom blue. In the Pacific Northwest, it is difficult to get the old ones to bloom pink. I learned a long time ago that there are cultivars that are better for one color or the other; that the blues are not so great pinks, and the pinks are not so great blues. Generally though, ‘color’ was relative to pH, rather than as ‘pink’ or ‘blue’. However, modern cultivars are better at maintaining their intended color. For example, pinks might turn lavender in acidic soil, but try to not turn completely blue. Blues might turn lavender, but resist going completely pink in alkaline soil. That is probably how mixes like those in some of your pictures are possible.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: