Hydrangeas Part 1: Meet LEONA

The weather outside is frightful, so let’s think of something delightful…say, hydrangeas? Wintertime can be the best time to think about and plan for your upcoming garden ventures. Get ahead of the heat and plant hydrangeas and other summer loving shrubs late this winter or early spring. Here’s a highlight on hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas, hydrangeas, hydrangeas…a garden must have hydrangeas. Alone in an arrangement or mixed with other trappings from the garden, hydrangeas are a staple for the garden and the home. Many folks think of the “blue mop heads” in summer, but with the right selection, you can have hydrangeas from May through October. Let me introduce you my friend LEONA…that’s the acronym for the five types of hydrangeas that will give you blooms to arrange and enjoy for half the year or more! Limelight, Endless Summer, Oak Leaf, Nikko Blue, and Annabelle planted in the garden will provide buckets of blooms for your home and table for months.

Here in the Deep South, zones 7 and 8 especially, this acronym for the names of these five hydrangea cultivars is an easy way of remembering how to maximize the bloom times of these magnificent flowers. For those of us in zones 7 and 8, the Oak Leaf hydrangeas will start blooming first in May. Keep in mind different varieties of each hydrangea can bloom at different times as well, so you can even have a succession of successive blooms during the season. After the Oak Leaf, Nikko Blue and Endless Summer kick in along with Annabelle. Though all three bloom very close together, the Nikko’s turn green and shades of aqua after their classic blue shade and even turn shades of coral, rust, and chartreuse. Endless Summer blooms multicolored on each plant, with blues, pinks, and lavenders harmoniously covering the shrub. After their initial bloom, Endless Summer will jump start again with blossoms well into summer and finish up in the fall. I count on their russet, coral, and aubergine colored fall blooms for my autumn arrangements. Annabelle blooms hard through June and then the snowball white flowers turn chartreuse green for added summer color well into July and August. Finally, the grand finale is with Limelight. This new offspring of the
paniculata species kicks into high gear in July and goes strong well into August and September. The creamy white panicles or blooms turn lime green, almost like a high light from a stage, thus the name. Coral pink edging will occur and these flowers will provide your late summer and autumnal bouquets with body and texture.

Become acquainted with LEONA for May through October blooms. The back bone of your own personal floral shop, these amazing flowers can even be enjoyed year round once they are dried. When planning your garden, plan on inviting LEONA. The blossoms from this delightful new friend will fill your home and garden with multitudes of blooms.

Annabelle (white), Endless Summer (pink)
photograph by Delaney Holliman

Nikko Blue
photograph by Delaney Holliman

photograph by Delaney Holliman

Oak Leaf