Panicle hydrangeas are Hydrangea paniculata and its cultivars, all of which are characterised by their large, almost pyramidal flowerheads, or panicles.
Unlike mophead and lacecap hydrangeas, panicle hydrangeas will flower better if given some direct sun, so they’ll enjoy growing in a position of full sun or partial shade, in moist, well-drained, fertile soil.
Like Hydrangea arborescens, panicle hydrangeas flower on the current year’s growth, so they should be pruned in early spring. You can prune earlier but the faded flowerheads look beautiful over winter. Cut back old stems to leave around four pairs of buds on the stem. This will encourage vigorous new growth that will bear the largest panicles.
Discover some of the best panicle hydrangeas to grow, below.
This marvellous variety has huge flowerheads that start out a fresh green in June before turning pure white as they open and mature in mid- to late summer. While the maximum height and spread is 2.5m x 2.5m, keep in mind ‘Phantom’ will be smaller but more floriferous if pruned each year.
The flowers of this compact variety start out a creamy green colour, before flushing pink as the panicles age. Like all panicle hydrangeas, ‘Sundae Fraise’ is tolerant of most soils, regardless of their pH, as long as it’s well-drained.
Height x spread: 120cm x 120cm.
‘Kolmavesu’ is a standout cultivar with panicles that display a spectacular graduation of colour, from rosy pink at the base and white at the tips, set against rich green foliage. You might also encounter this variety with the name ‘Magical Vesuvio’.
H x S: 90cm x 90cm.
This arching cultivar has beautiful, fluted florets that look like miniature propellors. The large panicles are a creamy white colour, which takes on a pinkish hue as they age. ‘Great Star’ may also be encountered under the name ‘Le Vasterival’.
H x S: 1.8m x 1.8m.
‘Pink Diamond’ has elegant white florets that turn a deep red-pink as they age. It makes a beautiful addition to a cottage garden border, growing alongside white-, blue- and purple-flowered plants.
H x S: 2.5m x 2.5m.
Bred exclusively for The Savill Garden, ‘Savill Lace’ has delicate cream-green florets that appear to float above the smaller flowers. The large panicles turn a dusky pink as they mature.
H x S: 1.8m x 1.8m.
Panicle hydrangea flower colour
Unlike mophead and lacecap hydrangeas, which have interchangeable flower colours (pink in alkaline soil, blue in acid soil), panicle hydrangeas are much less affected by soil pH – the flowers nearly always turn various shades of pink as they mature.
Panicle hydrangeas are most often grown as bushy border shrubs, or in a row to create an informal hedge. If you’re after a different look, panicle hydrangeas can be bought as, or pruned and trained to form multi-stemmed, tree-form specimens offering extra height and a visible branching structure to be admired.