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On Gardening: Trio of new hydrangeas top the 2021 must-have list

By Norman Winter, Tribune News Service on

Published in Gardening News

The mornings have become like "flower glow" at The Garden Guy's house thanks to three new panicle hydrangeas making their debut in the spring of 2021. I have been amazed at what I am seeing, and to an extent what I am feeling, with these new introductions.

I have grown hydrangea paniculatas before, and coordinated the choosing of Limelight hydrangea as a Mississippi Medallion award winner. There is something special however, with these three new varieties. Is it that 2020 has given me a new appreciation for life and nature? Could it be that cool temperatures arrived earlier than usual giving relief and perhaps a dose of climate perfection for the hydrangea blossoms?

On the other hand, the word seems to be out about these hydrangeas and at all levels of the process: grower, garden center and buyer. At each stage the competition for plants is at the max. If you want these, I urge you to get in the acquisition game now and stay there until you are planting yours in the spring.

You are thinking, well, The Garden Guy hasn't even told me what they are yet, so how can I want one? True, they are Limelight Prime, Fire Light Tidbit and Quick Fire Fab. Right now, I'll say you don't want one, but at least three of each.

If you have loved Limelight, you'll love Limelight Prime even more; this will be like having your best friend in the garden. While I celebrate the glow in the morning, know that the afternoon is like a having an heirloom or antique display of mauve shades that should be to be on canvas and in a gold frame for all the world to see,

You might be wondering, how could you improve on the most popular hydrangea in creation? It blooms earlier, which will be a plus for gardeners in colder zones. As the blooms age they develop a richer palette of pinks, mauves and red. The stems are stronger supporting the flowers upright, giving you cuts for the vase by the bucket full, if you are so inclined. Last but certainly not least is that it is a more friendly size for today's urban landscape reaching 4-6 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide.

Fire Light Tidbit gives you the immediate idea of a diminutive size. That is wonderfully true in that it reaches 2-3 feet tall and as wide. The flowers at The Garden Guy's house however are enormous, borne on sturdy stems and reminiscent of exquisite porcelain of changing color. I'm growing mine in a bed with Limelight Prime and Pugster buddleias and it is so exciting.


The last and certainly nothing least is Quick Fire Fab. This one is the larger of the three new introductions and can reach 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It is the earliest blooming panicle hydrangea on the market giving the landscape three months of dazzling performance. The blooms are incredibly unique in that each floret is cross or X shaped, called cruciform in the taxonomic world. These flowers too will go through a regimen of color change as they age.

These new hydrangeas offer a huge hardiness range from zones 3-8 and will be the surefire solution to you winning the green thumb award. They are not picky about soil pH and ask only for well-drained soil with reasonable or average fertility. They bloom on new wood so you are encouraged to prune by one-third in late winter or early spring.

Proven Winners has become synonymous with hydrangeas. Peruse their website and you will find more hydrangeas than you ever knew existed. Warning, your first response may be: Honey, we need a bigger landscape!


(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.)

(c)2020 Norman Winter, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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