They're rugged, yet elegant. They're relatively pest- and disease-free. And most are hardy to at least USDA Zone 5, and in some cases Zone 4. Hydrangeas have always been among Paul James' favorite shrubs.
"They're available in so many different forms that the only difficult thing about growing them is deciding which ones to grow," he says. "They come in solid and variegated forms. They come with different colored flowers — typically pink, blue or white. And they range from cute two-footers to those that can easily reach six or eight feet."
New varieties are being introduced almost every year. One of the newest is 'Endless Summer'.
Typically, hydrangeas bloom in spring, although there are some fall bloomers as well. And once they complete their blooming period, the flowers dry up and that's it until next year. But 'Endless Summer' — as its name suggests — blooms all summer long.
"The new flowers emerge with a lavender tint, but over the course of a couple of weeks, they more than triple in size and gradually turn pink," James says. "A couple of weeks later the colors begin to fade, but the flowers are no less gorgeous. In fact, once the colors fade, I like to cut the blooms, stick them in a vase and create a lovely arrangement."
Treat 'Endless Summer' just as you would any other hydrangea — that is, give it plenty of shade in the South, plenty of moisture no matter where you garden, and a rich, well-drained soil — whether in the ground or in a container. "Do all that and 'Endless Summer' will be an endless delight," says James.