How to Grow and Care for Hydrangea Tree (H. paniculata)

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The hydrangea tree is considerably less well-known than the low-growing hydrangea bush that everyone knows and loves for its grand summer flowering display. But the Hydrangea paniculata or Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ is a tree that can grow up to 25 feet tall. This tree hydrangea has long-lasting flowers that can be red, pink, blue, purple, or white, and instead of being rounded, they are conical. 

A hydrangea tree can make a statement in your garden, providing you have space for it to grow. It is a fast-growing plant and is not a hydrangea to grow in a pot for more than a couple of years!

History

The hydrangea trees were first identified in the early 19th century, when they were brought to Europe from Japan.

Plant Facts

Scientific nameHydrangea paniculata
Common namesTree hydrangea, panicle hydrangea, standard hydrangea, peegee hydrangea
GenusHydrangea
FamilyHydrangeaceae
Height6 to 15 feet
Width6 to 14 feet
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone4 to 8
Native toChina, Japan, Korea, Russia
Blooming seasonMid to late summer
Flower colorsShades of pink and white
Plant specific features (if any)Flowering shrub grown as a tree by allowing only one central stem.

How to Plant and Grow Tree Hydrangeas

Hydrangea tree is a rapidly growing plant, and some varieties will grow up to 25 feet tall if left unchecked! Container planting is only feasible for a new plant and no more than a couple of years. Don’t worry if you don’t have space for a tree that big, as there are other varieties such as “Bobo” that will only grow about 3 feet tall.  

The good news is that the panicle hydrangea is robust and easy to grow, although regular pruning is essential if you are to keep the tree shape of the plant.

Panicle Hydrangea Care and Maintenance

To get the best from your hydrangea tree, you need to consider first where, when, and how to plant the shrub. Regular maintenance in the way of pruning is also essential if you are to keep the tree appearance.

Soil

All hydrangea varieties need ample moisture if they are to flower well and not wilt. However, equally important is that the soil is well-draining. Hydrangea plants will not tolerate having their roots in waterlogged soil for any length of time.

Water

Regular watering is essential, particularly for new plants. It is especially important to provide sufficient irrigation during the summer months as until they have established robust root structures, a new hydrangea shrub is not able to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil.  

Fertilizer

A slow-release fertilizer applied once or twice a year in the spring or early summer is the easiest approach. You can use either an organic or chemical fertilizer successfully. However, an application of well-rotted manure will also provide an excellent soil conditioner as well as fertilizer for your plant. 

During and after August, you should not fertilize your tree hydrangea, as the plant will have finished flowering and be preparing itself for winter dormancy. You don’t want to be encouraging new, tender growth at this time of year.  

Sunlight

This species of hydrangea can thrive whether in full sun or partial shade. The best and longest-lasting blooms will be achieved if the tree gets plenty of morning sun and some shade during the hottest part of the day, particularly during the summer.

Humidity and Temperature

Compared to other species of hydrangea, the paniculata or Pee Gee hydrangea has better tolerance to cold. It will tolerate humidity, providing its roots are not left in waterlogged soil. Too much heat can lead to wilting and plant stress, so it’s important to provide some shade and keep the plant well watered when it is very hot.

Pruning

H. paniculata if not pruned would grow like a hydrangea shrub. In its natural state, it will develop multiple stems and grow both upward and outward in a bush-like shape. Plant growers train the young hydrangea plant to create its tree-like shape when it’s small. They use this variety because it is a fast-growing shrub with an upright habit.

By removing all but the strongest central stem when the plant is young, and maintaining just one leader as the plant develops, the hydrangea can grow upward and form a tree-like appearance.

You will probably have bought your PeeGee hydrangea tree already pruned and growing like a small tree. Whilst the plant is young, it is a good idea to provide a stake and support the tree. This will help to protect it from damage by strong winds and also prevent it from leaning towards the prevailing wind direction.

When you need to attend to the pruning, you just have to make sure you remove the shoots that start to develop from the base of the plant. This will maintain the single stem, and tree effect of your hydrangea bush. Apart from that, it is just a question of cutting out any dead branches, removing old flowers, and keeping your hydrangea tree in an attractive shape.

Pest and diseases

If you provide good growing conditions for your plant, the tree hydrangea shouldn’t give you many problems with pests or diseases. If you get an infestation of aphids, you can often get rid of this with just a water jet from a powerful hose.  

Uses of the Hydrangea Tree

The main purpose of the hydrangea tree is to provide a beautiful decorative plant in your garden.  It will be covered in long-lasting, large, showy flowers and be admired by all. The dark green leaves however drop quickly during fall as soon as they have started to turn yellow.  

Common Tree Hydrangea Cultivars

There are many cultivars from which to choose. H. paniculata is available in a variety of shades of red/pink and lime green/white. You can start with the popular Hydrangea paniculata ‘grandiflora’ or PeeGee hydrangea. If space is limited, you can choose one of the dwarf varieties, which will only grow to about six feet tall.

Conclusion

The floral display which your hydrangea trees will give you in summer will be spectacular.  H.paniculata is one of the most rewarding and reliable small trees you can choose to plant in your garden.

~ image source: depositphotos/anmbph