Look to flowering shrubs to raise perennial blossoms on woody branches above the lawn. Some shrubs display enormous blossoms in warm weather. Such flowering champions can be found among the family of Hydrangeaceae.
Hydrangeas are in the deciduous-shrub group and accent many city streets in late spring. Old-fashioned favorites Hydrangea macrophylla are big-leafed hydrangeas flaunting globes of petals and bracts. These flowering bracts are pink or blue, depending on soil pH. Blue often results where soil is in the acidic range of about 5.0 to 5.5. Soil testing by taking a sample (fees may apply) to your local Extension office is recommended to determine the soil pH. Gardeners experimenting with applications of powdered sulfur to lower pH (blue tendency) or agricultural lime to slightly raise pH (pink tendency) of soil above the 5.5 range to about 6.5 can produce blooms from both colors on opposite sides of a H. macropylla shrub.
However, it may be important to know that in 2021 hydrangeas may not bloom as prolifically as in the past. Hydrangeas which bloom on last-years’ wood may lose flower buds in extremely cold winters. Harsh winters can be as destructive to bloom production as hand pruners deployed in fall/winter the year before. Hint: prune these after flowering, if pruning is desired. Solution is from newer varieties such as H. macrophylla ‘Endless Summer,’ which bloom on new wood.
Submitted by Kathy Wimberely, Agent for Horticulture, McCracken County Cooperative Extension Service