You may not think of hydrangeas as a suitable choice for a hedgerow, but you can create a show-stopping privacy hedge between you and your neighbor, simply by choosing hydrangeas that have a similar growth pattern.
Because of their bush-like growth pattern and relatively tall growth, hydrangeas make a suitable choice for a hedge. Not to mention that the colorful blooms will add a certain element of pizzazz to your hedge.
Below I’ll cover the basics of turning your hydrangea shrubs into a colorful hedge including which hydrangea types to choose, how to plant them and what you should do in terms of pruning and maintenance.
Choosing Hydrangea Type
While there are no set rules on how to create a hydrangea hedge, there are a few things that are worth considering before you turn your hands to making one in your garden.
There are six types of hydrangeas growing in North America, with quite a few cultivars each. Therefore, in terms of choice you aren’t limited to just a few.
However, there is one hydrangea type that grows too tall, hence it isn’t suitable for making a hydrangea hedgerow. The hydrangea in question is the Climbing hydrangea.
Staying true to its name, this hydrangea type can climb to reach over 50 feet in height and only 6 feet in spread. It needs a strong structure to support its growth and it’s not an ideal choice for making a hedgerow.
The other types of hydrangeas — Mountain hydrangea, Bigleaf hydrangea, Panicle hydrangea, Smooth hydrangea, and Oak-leaf hydrangea — are suitable to be grown as hedgerows.
Of all these, I’d argue that the bigleaf hydrangeas, smooth and panicle ones are the best one for creating impressive, bloom-laden hedges.
When deciding which type of hydrangea to use for your hedgerow, I advise you consider the following things:
- Height and spread at maturity
- Whether you have enough space in your garden to accommodate these plants
- Planting distance
- Location (sunny, shade, soil type, etc.)
- Requirements of the hydrangea type you’re choosing
These aspects will help you create a hedge that thrives, looks good and it’s easy to maintain. Location has implications with respect to the quality of the soil (you should be aiming for well-draining, slightly acidic soil that’s high in organic matter) and light exposure.
Making a plan ahead of time regarding the planting distance is important because if you plant your hydrangeas too close to each other, you’re inviting problems such as inadequate aeration that can lead to the spread of and development of fungal diseases, for example.
You also need to make sure that light conditions are optimal, and that one part of the hedge isn’t in full shade while the other part in full sun.
Discrepancies such as these can lead to growth that is not uniform, defeating the whole purpose of a hedgerow.
Hydrangeas are quintessentially garden plants and do best when they’re planted outdoors, especially hydrangeas that grow taller.
While you may be tempted to combine different types of hydrangeas to create a colorful hedge, I advise you to stick to only one hydrangea type. This will allow you to reduce maintenance and pruning related issues.
Even with a single type of hydrangea, you can still enjoy blooms in different colors, since the big leaf hydrangeas can bloom in shades of pink and blue.
I recommend this because different types of hydrangeas can have different light requirements and other care requirements that can make it difficult to care for these plants in the long run.
Therefore, plant hydrangeas of the same type or at least combine hydrangeas with similar requirements and growth size. You want things to run as smoothly and as uniformly as possible.
Account for the size these plants reach at maturity when deciding on the distance at which you’re going to plant them.
You don’t want to plant them too close to each other, but also not too far from each other, which would prevent them from forming a hedgerow.
Besides size related matter, there’s also the matter of adequate light exposure and soil drainage. Generally, hydrangeas enjoy full sun to partial shade.
They also enjoy moist soil. But the roots of the plant should not sit in water, therefore, you must make sure that the soil is well-draining.
If you’re starting out with smaller bushes that aren’t well established yet, make sure to regularly water them. Moist, fertile soil is essential for young hydrangeas.
Pruning & Maintenance
Pruning will be required for hydrangeas based on their growth rate. Although they’re relatively fast-growing plants, they don’t require annual pruning.
When you do want to prune your hydrangea hedges, make sure you understand the difference between hydrangeas that bloom on old wood and those that bloom on new wood.
This distinction is important because hydrangeas that bloom on new wood can be pruned in autumn before the dormancy stage or in late winter / early spring.
Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, should be pruned after the blooms fade. Don’t cut down old woods in late fall or early spring.
Pruning can have different objectives. You can prune a hydrangea to give it shape and manage its size a bit, or you can prune to revive a hydrangea that isn’t doing well.
You should also deadhead hydrangeas as blooms fade throughout the blooming season. This will promote repeat blooming and bigger bloom production.
Other than pruning, hydrangeas require watering during periods of drought or warm temperatures. They can also benefit from compost added to the soil and fertilizing 2-3 times a year.
Depending on the cold tolerance of the hydrangea you’ve chosen, you may need to think of winter protection measures to ensure the survival of the hydrangeas through winter.
Despite not being the go-to shrubs for hedgerows, hydrangeas can be grown as hedges by simply following a few rules related to planting distance and choosing the best hydrangea types for the job.
You can combine different types of hydrangeas as long as their sizes are comparable and as long as they have similar growing requirements. The results will be a kaleidoscope of colors that will certainly impress.