Ask a Question forum: Hydrangea vs. Azalea: Better Shade Shrub

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Bloomington, Indiana (Zone 6a)
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CrazedHoosier
May 14, 2018 10:17 PM CST
Well, I guess I'm accidentally getting myself into the shrub world. With my 8 year old lilac, my first rose, and a butterfly bush on the way, I'm all covered as far as sunny shrubs go! I now need to think of some beautiful shade shrubs. Azaleas and hydrangeas are in my size range, and have the stunning blooms I'm looking for, but I also need a shrub that can withstand some pure-to-partial shade. I've heard many mixed views on azaleas in general, so I'm a bit hesitant to plant one now. On the other hand, I've heard hydrangeas are hardy and long-lasting. Basically, I'm looking for a shrub that performs well in filtered shade, blooms from summer to fall, and won't die on me whenever I make a mistake. I don't even know if hydrangeas OR azaleas fit the bill. The shrub noob is here, and help is definitely needed!
[Last edited by CrazedHoosier - May 14, 2018 10:18 PM (+)]
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
May 15, 2018 8:32 AM CST
Just be sure you get the shade variety, of either one.
The trick with azalea's is. They are shallow rooted. Plant them same depth as they are in pot.
Second. Shallow water them. They don't like deep watering ! Roots will rot. Then...well, you know the rest of story. 😭😭😭

Ttfn Friend 😀
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
May 15, 2018 10:31 AM CST
Hydrangeas need a lot more sun than azaleas do. The secret to success with azaleas is to plant them in half peat and half native soil (make sure the peat is completely moistened - dry spots will burn the roots). The hole needn't be big and should be wider than deep (1.5 to 2 ft wide and 1 ft deep).

Plant the azalea slightly higher than the surrounding soil as they are very prone to root rot but keep the soil damp at all times. Deep watering will not kill an azalea.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Bloomington, Indiana (Zone 6a)
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CrazedHoosier
May 15, 2018 1:11 PM CST
DaisyI said:Hydrangeas need a lot more sun than azaleas do. The secret to success with azaleas is to plant them in half peat and half native soil (make sure the peat is completely moistened - dry spots will burn the roots). The hole needn't be big and should be wider than deep (1.5 to 2 ft wide and 1 ft deep).

Plant the azalea slightly higher than the surrounding soil as they are very prone to root rot but keep the soil damp at all times. Deep watering will not kill an azalea.



So I as a beginner shrub-keeper, I don't have to worry about killing an azalea? Do azaleas like filtered/partial shade? That would be a perfect match for the spot I need to fill! If anyone could suggest any other partial shade shrubs that flower, or are just interesting, that would be appreciated as well!
Hurst, TX (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas
luis_pr
May 15, 2018 1:24 PM CST
My experience with azaleas has been positive but they need well draining, acidic soil. I have them in dappled shade and in morning sun (until 11am ish) and no afternoon/evening sun in the summer. The rebloomer varieties perform well for me, including one that actually does not get morning sun / afternoon shade (it gets sun from morning until 2pm, quite hot when our summers get into the daily 100s. Well draining is key as I have had some losses in the clayish soil that this area has. I typically maintain them well mulched so they feed off the decomposing mulch.

Azaleas have been more picky for me. As a result, I tend to plant hydrangeas more than azaleas. The paniculatas can are more sun tolerant in the north and may bloom sometimes with issues in warm evening locations like mine so they will do well where you live. They will do better in more sunny locations, even full sun in the northeast. Most of them used to be large specimens between 8-10' but there have been quite a lot of recent introductions of compact paniculatas. They are root hardy and should not have issues blooming.

Oakleaf hydrangeas are similar to paniculatas (old specimens were tall but new introductions are compact). They need filtered/dappled sun or morning sun only. However, they bloom earlier; their invisible flower buds develop in late Summer or in the Fall where you are (they open in the Spring). So, the flower buds may have some issues in unusually cold winters albeit not as bad as mopheads and lacecaps do. The oakleaf's fall foliage is stupendous. They are native to Indiana.

https://blogs.butler.edu/india...

Annabelle-like hydrangeas (H. arborescens) are also another choice for those conditions. They come in white and pink blooms nowadays.
[Last edited by luis_pr - May 15, 2018 1:34 PM (+)]
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Bloomington, Indiana (Zone 6a)
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CrazedHoosier
May 15, 2018 1:31 PM CST
luis_pr said:My experience with azaleas has been positive but they need well draining, acidic soil. I have them in dappled shade and in morning sun (until 11am ish) and no afternoon/evening sun in the summer. The rebloomer varieties perform well for me, including one that actually does not get morning sun / afternoon shade (it gets sun from morning until 2pm, quite hot when our summers get into the daily 100s. Well draining is key as I have had some losses in the clayish soil that this area has. I typically maintain them well mulched so they feed off the decomposing mulch.

As a result, I tend to plant hydrangeas more than azaleas. The paniculatas can are more sun tolerant in the north and may bloom sometimes with issues in warm evening locations like mine so they will do well where you live. Most of them used to be large specimens between 8-10' but there have been quite a lot of recent introductions of compact paniculatas. They are root hardy and should not have issues blooming.

Oakleaf hydrangeas are similar to paniculatas (old specimens were tall but new introductions are compact). However, they bloom earlier and their invisible flower buds develop in late Summer or in the Fall where you are (they open in the Spring). So, they may have some issues in unusually cold winters albeit not as bad as mopheads and lacecaps do. The oakleaf's fall foliage is stupendous.


Wow, thanks for that helpful information! I kinda have a "thing" for the Ruby Slippers and Quick Fire hydrangeas. Since they are two different hydrangea types, do you think one would be better suited than the other for what I'm looking for? I need something that can take 3 hours of sunlight in some seasons, and 7 hours of sunlight in others. The shrub would have 7 hours of direct sunlight in the winter and early spring, but would drop to maybe 3-4 hours of filtered, partial sunlight in the summer.
Hurst, TX (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas
luis_pr
May 15, 2018 2:45 PM CST
Sounds good. In the "non summer" part of the year, both can be placed in full sun. I actually have a Pistachio Mophead and a camellia getting a lot of sun because they are in pots and I have not chosen where to plant them yet. I am kind of late doing that. Sigh. Ha!

In the summer, RS needs morning only sun although I have it in dappled sun... Little QF and "regular" QF can take afternoon and morning sun. My Little QF does not develop nice foliage like my RS does in the Fall but it still manages to produce a medium yellow tone of color that is not that bad. Oakleaf hydrangeas tend to bloom early for me, sometimes they are the earliest of all hydrangeas to bloom. Pistachio, a new mophead still in a pot, started blooming at about the same time as the other oakleafs. Oakleaf hydrangeas are more drought tolerant which is good in my area.

I find that paniculatas perform best in more sunny areas. In the northeast, they can be in full sun like any other rose bush. But that does not work here because the summer sun is intense compared to the northern half of the country. Temps are also extremely hot so their blooming suffers. As a result, I have few paniculatas and more oakleaf/mopheads/serratas.

I chose the QFs because they are amongst the earliest blooming and I also chose Little Lime because I like the green lime color. LL is in a full shade (full shade but bright indirect sun) location where green/lime hydrangeas tend to stay green for longer than normal times before they change from lime to white. In some years, the bloom stays green until the Fall, which is great with me since I like the lime color anyways.

I have several oakleafs: Ruby Slippers, Snow Queen, Lil Honey and Pee Wee. All of them are under trees, in dappled sun locations. Pee Wee probably gets the less direct/indirect sun... mostly shaded but still bright shade so it blooms just fine...
Bloomington, Indiana (Zone 6a)
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CrazedHoosier
May 15, 2018 3:41 PM CST
luis_pr said:Sounds good. In the "non summer" part of the year, both can be placed in full sun. I actually have a Pistachio Mophead and a camellia getting a lot of sun because they are in pots and I have not chosen where to plant them yet. I am kind of late doing that. Sigh. Ha!

In the summer, RS needs morning only sun although I have it in dappled sun... Little QF and "regular" QF can take afternoon and morning sun. My Little QF does not develop nice foliage like my RS does in the Fall but it still manages to produce a medium yellow tone of color that is not that bad. Oakleaf hydrangeas tend to bloom early for me, sometimes they are the earliest of all hydrangeas to bloom. Pistachio, a new mophead still in a pot, started blooming at about the same time as the other oakleafs. Oakleaf hydrangeas are more drought tolerant which is good in my area.

I find that paniculatas perform best in more sunny areas. In the northeast, they can be in full sun like any other rose bush. But that does not work here because the summer sun is intense compared to the northern half of the country. Temps are also extremely hot so their blooming suffers. As a result, I have few paniculatas and more oakleaf/mopheads/serratas.

I chose the QFs because they are amongst the earliest blooming and I also chose Little Lime because I like the green lime color. LL is in a full shade (full shade but bright indirect sun) location where green/lime hydrangeas tend to stay green for longer than normal times before they change from lime to white. In some years, the bloom stays green until the Fall, which is great with me since I like the lime color anyways.

I have several oakleafs: Ruby Slippers, Snow Queen, Lil Honey and Pee Wee. All of them are under trees, in dappled sun locations. Pee Wee probably gets the less direct/indirect sun... mostly shaded but still bright shade so it blooms just fine...


I really love learning all this info! It's so interesting! So the Ruby Slippers would be the better match for me, then?


So what I have basically come down to is Bloom-A-Thon Pink Double Azalea vs. Ruby Slippers Hydrangea

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