Why plant Audubon® Native Hydrangea?
Gardeners who grow Smooth Hydrangea almost always grow the form called ‘Annabelle’, or one much like it. That selection is a beauty, with big white flowers in huge, rounded bunches the size of cantaloupes. The problem is, those big white flowers are sterile, and offer nothing to wildlife. A better choice for pollinator-friendly gardens is the Smooth Hydrangea in its original, “unimproved” form, as we offer here. This Wild Hydrangea, as it is also known, is not as flashy as ‘Annabelle’, but it nourishes all kinds of native bees and beneficial wasps, flies, and beetles. Opt for substance over fashion!
Hikers exploring the woods during that blissful season between spring and summer may come across Smooth Hydrangea blooming in the understory. This native Accent prefers rocky outcroppings that aren’t too dry, but it can be found in any shady spot where the soil is moist but well-drained. It grows over a wide area, from New York to Georgia and west to Illinois and Oklahoma. Among the varied and interesting insects that visit Smooth Hydrangea are iridescent green sweat bees, gentle yellow-faced masked bees, tumbling flower beetles, and dance flies, which—in addition to visiting flowers—also prey on insect pests.
How to use Audubon® Native Hydrangea in the landscape?
Another intriguing insect that relies on Smooth Hydrangea is the Hydrangea sphinx moth. Marbled like a tie-dyed t-shirt, with olive green, white, brown, and rusty orange streaks, it’s quite striking! Smooth Hydrangea is the primary plant it uses as a host for its caterpillars to feed on.
Hardiness Zone: 3-9
How To Plant Audubon® Native Hydrangea
Smooth Hydrangea is a hardy, fast-growing, and easy-to-please American Accent. Give it a site in part sun or shade and irrigate regularly. The soil should be moist but not soggy and enriched with organic matter. This plant spreads by both seeds and underground stems, so it’s best to use it where its roaming ways will be welcomed. It is not overly aggressive, however. Smooth Hydrangea blooms on the new growth of the season, and you can prune it back hard in late winter if you like. Native bees may overwinter inside the stems; set the clippings aside so they can emerge safely when the weather warms.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer, start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant food granular form on an annual basis each late fall. Continue this for the first three years to get your plant well established.
So far, one of the plants has begun to flower while the other three are growing but appear to be struggling a bit. I did email B&B and received some advice and a recommendation for a top dressing organic fertilizer. Very quick response from customer service!!