The Q&A Archives: Unknown Hydrangea

Question: I have several hydrangeas which appear to be growing fine in my area. I have one though that has large fuzzy leaves. All my other hydrangeas have smooth shiny leaves. I have only purchased what I thought were lacecap hydrangeas but this one looks different. This is the first year for any of them to be flowering since I planted them outside and this one also is not looking like a lacecap. Also, how do I overwinter them in my area.

Answer: There are a number of different types of hydrangeas that might have slightly fuzzy leaves on the underside. The fuzziest though would probably be the oak leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia. This one is a large plant with exfoliating (peeling) bark and large long white flowers that fade to a deep pink. The leaves look sort of like oak leaves and the foliage turns red in the fall. It blooms on old wood so will not bloom if it is winterkilled back at all. It is hardy to zone 5, but it is always a good idea to protect it from winter winds, just as with any hydrangea that blooms on old wood.

If the leaves on your plant look similar to your other hydrangeas but are a bit fuzzy, and the blooms are similar to typical bigleaf hydrangeas but are white, you may have a Hydrangea arborescens such as "Annabelle". This is a native plant and is very tough. It blooms on the current season's growth and can be cut back in the fall or early spring before growth begins.

All hydrangeas benefit from an evenly moist soil (not soggy wet) and several inches of organic mulch year round. An annual spring feeding of compost and/or a complete granular fertilizer according to the label instructions is fine.

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