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 thoughts on “2020 is The Year Of The Hydrangea – Hurray!

    • susurrus says:

      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.

    • susurrus says:

      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.

  1. tonytomeo says:

    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.

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