The Hydrangea paniculata plant is a deciduous bush that is native in East Asian countries such as China, Russia, Korea, and Japan. It is fast growing (up to 3 feet (90 cm) of new growth per season) and the wild-type species can reach an height of 16 feet (5 m). Gardeners tend to cut this shrub back so that it reaches around 6 to 8 feet (2 to 2.5 m). It is a very popular garden plant and a large number of cultivars, with showy long lasting flowers, have been developed for their ornamental value.
The plant is much loved by gardeners as it practically grows itself, just add water. It blooms in the spring and summer (and sometimes into the autumn) with Showy pale green to white flowers. These tend to turn to pink or purple as the plant ages, making Hydrangea plants an ideal focus plant for the garden.
photograph by Leonora (Ellie) Enking; CC.
This woody plant has toothed leaves of darkish green. The flower heads are large, with the panicles being arranged in a conical form. These are pinkish in color and are sterile. The plant also produces much smaller cream to white flowers (which are fertile).
Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora: Small tree or multi-stem shrub to 30 feet (9 m) in height with a spread up to 15 feet (4.5 m). Flowers are Mounded (round-appearance) and very large. White turning pink as the plant matures.
Grandiflora cultivar be by Leonora (Ellie) Enking; CC.
Hydrangea paniculata Kyushu: Medium sized ~ 20 feet (6 m) in height, spread up to 10 feet (3 m). Blooms in the middle of summer with lacy flowers. These turn from white to pink-purple as the plant ages.
'Limelight': Smaller variety to 8 feet (2.5 m) tall with a width of about the same. Mounded flowers of white.
'Big Ben': Small and upright bush with a spreading nature. About 5 to 6 feet (1.75 m) high with a similar width. Very fragrant. Conical panicles, Pale green turning white through to pink through the growing season.
'Phantom': Up to 10 feet in height and spread. Creamy pink mounded flowers.
'Pink Diamond' / 'Interhydia': 10 feet (3 m) tall with a similar spread. Mounded cone shaped white flowers that turn to pink through the season
'Pinky-Winky' / 'Dvppinky': Smaller cultivar of about 7 feet (2 m) height. This cultivar starts to bloom in the middle of summer carrying large lacy flowers. These start white, with the base turning pink as the plant ages.
'Silver Dollar': Small European developed variety that is great for smaller gardens or small gaps. Plants reach about 5 or 6 feet (1.5 m) and carry white panicles blooms that turn to pink with a hint of lime when they mature. Leaves are dark green and the plant has an upright form.
The genus is named from the Greek word for water (Hydros) vessel (Jar: Angos).
Much of the symbolism for this plant comes from Japan where it has traditionally been used as a gift for an heart felt apology. This is especially true for pink flowered Hydrangea species as they are though to resemble a beating heart.
Interesting in the UK the Hydrangea plant has an opposite symbolism, in that it is associated with being boastful; this came about as the plant produces lots of flowers (boasts) but few seeds (selfish). Also used to signify a fourth wedding anniversary.