Low-maintenance garden border
Do you want a low-maintenance border for part shade that looks good all year? Plant the four species of hydrangeas you see here along with a few favorite perennials. You’ll need a space about 25 feet long and 15 feet deep to grow this border.
The oakleaf hydrangea kicks off the show in late spring, followed by ‘Annabelle’ smooth hydrangea and everblooming bleeding hearts. Bright pinks and purples join the fun in midsummer with BloomStruck bigleaf hydrangeas and ‘Stargazer’ lilies. Citron yellow hostas and white astilbes cool the palette during the hottest summer months. Finally, a magnificent ‘Limelight’ panicle hydrangea provides the grand finale with its prolific white flower panicles that blush pink as the foliage glows gold in fall. After the blooms fade, dried hydrangeas and astilbes give you something interesting to look at out the window all winter long.
- Late summer: Cut back the spent lily and hosta bloom stalks.
- Early spring: Top dress with compost and sprinkle granular slow-release fertilizer in the bed. Rake up leaves and cut back dead perennial stems. Deadhead and prune up to a third of the total height of the panicle and smooth hydrangeas.
- Late spring: Just prune out dead wood and deadhead on bigleaf and oakleaf hydrangeas.
See 9 plants with multiseason interest for your garden
How to change the color of your hydrangea blooms
Most bigleaf hydrangeas’ flower color varies depending on the pH of the soil. Flowers are bluer in acid soil and pinker in alkaline soil. (White flowers won’t change color.) Want to change pink to blue or blue to pink? Here’s how:
- Test your soil with a pH meter or kit. A pH reading of 7 or lower is acid; a pH reading above 7 is alkaline.
- For blue flowers, incorporate aluminum sulfate into the soil to make it more acid.
- For pink flowers, add garden lime to make it more alkaline.
- Soil type and moisture levels affect how quickly plants take up these additives so it can take anywhere from a few months to a season to see results.
Love hydrangeas? So do we! You might also like:
Five panicle hydrangeas for your garden
Seven bigleaf hydrangeas for your garden
How to care for bigleaf hydrangeas
Your handy shrub pruning guide
Flowery foundation garden plan
Check out the plants in this four-season garden plan in the slideshow below.