Peegee hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora'), often written as pee gee, is a particularly cold-hardy hydrangea variety. This shrub's blooms form large cone-shaped clusters (panicles) of white flowers that develop a pink or purple tint over time. Peegee hydrangea is hardy in USDA Zones 3 through 8, making it a great shrub selection for landscapes in cold climates where other types of hydrangeas won't grow successfully.
Growing Peegee Hydrangea in Your Garden
Peegee hydrangeas are fast-growing shrubs that generally reach four to ten feet in height with an equivalent spread. Due to their size, be sure to leave plenty of room between these plants when putting them in your landscape. They bloom from mid to late summer through early fall.
Where to Plant Peegee Hydrangea: Light and Soil Requirements
Fall is the best time to plant peegee hydrangeas, though early summer planting can also work. Peegee hydrangeas do best in partial shade or full sun. They can grow in pretty much any type of soil, as long as it drains well and is rich in organic matter. As is the case with all white hydrangeas, soil acidity does not impact this plant's bloom color. When planting a hydrangea:
- Dig a hole that is two times the width of the nursery container it is in, but only half the depth. This shrub shouldn't be planted too deep in the ground, as doing so could potentially lead to root rot.
- Place the shrub in the hole and replace the dirt that you removed. Consider adding in manure and bone meal (or other types of organic matter) to improve the soil overall and nourish the plant.
- Tamp down the soil around the newly planted shrub. The plant should be firmly held in place by the soil, but the soil should not be compacted around the base of the plant or over its roots.
- Water the plant thoroughly, then mulch the shrub to help the soil to retain moisture.
Watering and Fertilizing
Peegee hydrangeas need a lot of moisture, so regular watering is essential. These plants do not do well in drought conditions. Water two or three times per week for the first few years, as well as during the blooming season if there isn't much rainfall. When conditions are extremely dry and hot, they will need more water. This plant doesn't need much in the way of fertilizer. Just lightly fertilize it with a fertilizer made for trees and shrubs during early spring.
Pruning Peegee Hydrangea Shrubs
Peegee hydrangea blooms on new growth, so it's a good idea to prune this type of shrub annually. This will help maximize flower production. It's best to prune in late winter or early spring, prior to the time that the plant starts putting on new foliage for the upcoming blooming season. Remove old wood, trimming out any damaged branches, as well as ones that are badly formed or that cross over others in a way that will inhibit growth.
Training Peegee Hydrangea to Grow as a Tree
If you wish to train your peegee hydrangea to grow as a tree instead of a shrub, you'll need to prune it differently.
- Start by choosing a straight, strong stem that will become the trunk. Stake the selected stem and prune out most of the others. Keep around four branches on the upper quarter or so of the plant.
- This technique is referred to as creating a "standard," which refers to the fact that you'll end up with a bushy upper portion on top of a stand-like trunk. The same procedure is used to create tree roses.
- You'll need to prune your peegee hydrangea standard each spring to maintain its tree-like shape. Simply snip the top into a rounded shape and remove non-trunk branches from the bottom portion of the plant.
Peegee Hydrangea Pests and Diseases
Peegee hydrangeas are sturdy plants that don't have a lot of pest or disease problems. They can sometimes attract aphids or mites, which tend to be just a minor annoyance. They can also at times develop minor issues with things like wilt, mildew, rust, or leaf spot that can be dealt with by removing affected foliage and/or applying fungicide or natural treatments. If there are deer or rabbits in your area, you may need to find a way to deter them from nibbling on your plants.
Propagating Peegee Hydrangea
It's easy to propagate any type of hydrangea plant via cutting. Simply snip off a branch that does not have any flowers on it to use to create a rooted cutting. You can simply place the cutting in water and wait for roots to develop or dip the cutting in rooting hormone and put it in soil that's in a garden pot.
Good Companions for Peegee Hydrangea
Peegee hydrangeas pair well with a variety of other plants, including trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and flowers that do well in similar growing conditions and zones. A few particularly good companions for these lovely shrubs include:
- Blue spruce tree (Picea pungens)
- Chinese silver grass (Miscanthus)
- New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae angliae)
- Snowball bush (Viburnum opulus)
Beautify Your Landscape With Peegee Hydrangea
You don't have to live in a warm area to bring the loveliness of hydrangeas into your yard. Even if you live in a cold climate, you can still beautify your landscape with hydrangeas. Just opt for Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' rather than oakleaf or bigleaf hydrangeas that aren't likely to survive your winters. You'll be amazed at how much floral beauty these hardy plants bring into your outdoor living space.