On Gardening: This hydrangea is a Fairytrail come true

Norman Winter, Tribune News Service on

Published in Lifestyles

Boy, have I got a fairytrail for you gardeners about an incredible new hydrangea. That sounds so funny and you are probably thinking a horticulturist is about to tell you a tall tale about a hydrangea that doesn’t exist. This column however, is about an award-winning hydrangea that does exist and it is called Fairytrail Bride. If you decide to look it up, you most likely will see Fairytrail Bride Cascade Hydrangea.

That pretty much tells you what is so special about this hydrangea: It cascades. Jason Reeves, horticulturist with the University of Tennessee, says this is a breakthrough because Fairytrail Bride has the ability to produce flowers from every leaf joint. For you the gardener, this means a long, extended season of bloom.

It has a complex heritage or DNA with a lot of hydrangea macrophylla. You will quickly notice a mophead and lacecap look. It blooms on old wood so pruning is not recommended other than a deadheading type removal of spent blooms. While pH plays a role in coloration of mophead hydrangeas, it does not affect Fairytrail Bride.

It is recommended for zones 7-9, though I am seeing some stretching to zone 6. This means in colder zones you are most likely growing in a container and protecting in some manner, moving to a garage, putting under the house where many toss their banana trees and elephant ears.

Container growing has a lot of merit. This allows the cascading look to be enjoyed to the max. Can you just imagine a 4-foot-tall and wide cascading white hydrangea? This also gives you the idea of name origination. But certainly, containers aren’t the only application. Fairytrail Bride excels at the front of the border and drapes over a wall.

Fairytrail Bride needs some sun to perform its best; morning sun and afternoon shade would be ideal. The Garden Guy was weak of heart when it came to this recommendation and I can tell I need to be bold and move them. Neighbor Dave and his bride Cynthia accepted this recommendation on blind faith.

So, I was stunned while visiting a couple of days ago. Fairytrail Bride was right next to a huge pink blooming hydrangea that was a rescue from the HOA neighborhood entrance. They had also partnered with large native ferns and had just planted some butterfly gingers, Hedychium coronarium. His bed was like a resort while mine said, "You blew it, big guy."


Dave also did one other thing that is vital. He fertilized in early April with a general purpose, slow-release fertilizer and will do so again after the last blooms have faded. Evidently Dave reads and follows directions better than his neighbor. These hydrangeas need fertile, well-drained soil. Their roots are shallow, so mulch really pays dividends for a lush healthy plant.

Not every hydrangea is as well-suited to attracting pollinators as Fairytrail Bride. You will notice the huge white blossoms are accompanied by the small fertile flowers that become the delight of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. A side note to brides, this looks like the perfect or ultimate plant for May and June weddings, outdoors and indoors too! Finally, a note to gardeners, get yours soon; planting season is here.


(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)

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