Finally, it’s here. The hydrangeas in USDA Zones 5 and 6 are not only showing buds, but flowers have begun to emerge on some varieties. So it’s time for a status check for this season’s hydrangeas.

Big Leaf Hydrangea Flower Emerging

Big Leaf Hydrangea Flower Emerging

Status of Old Wood Varieties

The first item of business is how the old wood varieties made it through the winter. In a word, it was spotty. Some lost all of their top growth, some lost none, and others lost stems here and there.


The old wood hydrangea varieties that made it through the winter unscathed (no dead stems, full flowering) are:

All oak leaf (quercifolia) cultivars;

All mountain (serrata) varieties;

All climbing varieties (schizophragma, petiolaris).


Notice big leaf (macrophylla) hydrangeas aren’t listed. More about them later.


Status of New Wood Varieties

The new wood hydrangeas are a cakewalk. They all flower on current season’s growth (new wood) so all of them have tons of buds:

Woodland/smooth (arborescens);

Panicle (paniculata).


Big Leaf Hydrangea Flowering

I made a decision a few years ago to phase out almost all of my big leaf hydrangeas that flowered only on old wood, e.g. ‘Nikko Blue’. It was too disappointing to have a flowerless big green bush. I did keep one as a “control.”

From there, I built my collection of rebloomers, i.e., plants that flower on old wood and new wood. So this recent visit from Ol’ Man Winter will be proof positive of which rebloomers actually can produce new flowers after stem death. Here’s where I am so far.

Status of Reblooming Big Leaf Hydrangeas

My collection of Endless Summer® plants took a big hit. There were lots of dead stems, but I am glad to report that they all have generated buds on the stems that survived. All are pushing up new stems that I expect will have flowers later in the season. They are not as full as they were the past two seasons when we had a very forgiving winter and spring, but they will be flowering in a few short weeks.

As it relates to big leaf hydrangeas (macrophylla), the best performance is coming from Blue Enchantress®. It leafed out sooner, has the least amount of stem death, and is flowering first. Not far behind it are the newer introductions in the Let’s Dance® series.


Big Leaf Hydrangea Blue Enchantress

Big Leaf Hydrangea Blue Enchantress


New Plants Not Yet Assessed

I am trialing 2 very new Bloomin’ Easy plants (Starfield™ and Kimono™) and the new Endless Summer Pop Star®. It is simply too early to assess these additions. You see, it usually takes a plant 2 seasons to get acclimated to my property, regardless of where it is planted. I should see something on 2023 on these plants.

Gardening DOES teach us patience!


Mountain Hydrangea Winners

Every single mountain hydrangea (serrata) is bursting with flower buds. ‘Blue Billow’ with only 2-3 hours of sun is truly amazing, as are all versions of Tuff Stuff. Not far behind is ‘Rosa Billow’ a chance seedling of ‘Blue Billow’. I moved ‘Niji’ last year to a sunnier spot and for the first time in three years, it is sporting lovely pink lacecap flowers.

Mountain hydrangea 'Niji'

Mountain hydrangea ‘Niji’


In early spring in a pruning frenzy thinking it was a woodland/smooth plant, I severely cut back ‘Preziosa’, a lovely mountain hydrangea that is supposed to only flower on old wood. Foolish me, I checked the plant tag too late after the cutback. But lo and behold, it now has buds. I can only describe this is dumb luck. Go figure!



The Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival is in the final weeks of preparation. One of the events at this celebration is HYDRANGEA UNIVERSITY on July 8 to be held at Heritage Gardens in Sandwich. I’m honored to be one of the speakers at this event. You can learn more about the festival and Hydrangea University HERE. I’ll be speaking on “Hydrangea Game Changers.” This garden is the site of the North American Hydrangea Test Garden where you can see a superb collection of all manner of hydrangeas in a garden setting.


Later that same day, I’ll be at Highfield Hall and Gardens on the Cape, this time in Falmouth. Although the topic is again hydrangeas, this time it will be “Success With Hydrangeas.” There are details about this on their site HERE.

For both Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival talks, I will have signed copies of my internationally best selling book available for purchase.

Success With Hydrangeas book

Success With Hydrangeas book

I hope you can make it to the Cape sometime during this hydrangea festival. You will be rewarded with lots of beautiful gardens to visit and maybe some inspiration to take back to your own slice of heaven. 

I’d love to meet you there.

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