Mailbag! Reader responds to Sunday's "Stumped by uncooperative hydrangea:"
As a master gardener I really enjoy your gardening blog in the Journal Gazette. This past article about your problems with the Ever-Blooming Hydrangeas piqued my interest. The Hydrangea "Macrophylla," which the Ever-Blooming, Endless Summer, or Blushing Bride Hydrangeas are, do not do well in Eastern Indiana.
However, they are a very beautiful plant that sells really well, that's why you see them sold so much around here and with names like Ever-Blooming and Endless Summer, why wouldn't people be interested. But after the first year of intense blue blooms they do exactly what you described and need a lot of maintenance to keep them their blue.
Also as they age they produce less and less blooms, which you then need to treat them with Phosphate to keep them blooming.
All in all, I think they're a complete waste of time in our part of Indiana.
However, there are Hydrangeas that do very well around here. The "Annabelle" Hydrangea is actually a native to Indiana, and that is probably why it does so well in your yard. There are new cultivars of the "Annabelle," "Invicibelle" which is pink version, and "Incredibelle," which has massive blooms on it.
Also the Hydrangea "Paniculata" does very well around here, some of my favorites are, "Quickfire," "Limelight" and "Little Lamb."
If you're looking for something blue I would recommend some Delphiniums. They are a commonly overlooked plant but have a striking blue color. Or you could try some salvia which is a little more on the purplish side but just as beautiful. I hope I helped a little bit, and a little curious what other gardeners are recommending.
– Patrick Hutson