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Endless Bummer

One of the most common shrubs at garden centers is Hydrangea macrophylla (Big Leaf Hydrangea), especially the Endless Summer series of cultivars. Patrons are understandably captivated by the large blue to pink flower clusters (irresistible eye candy), and many a specimen is sold. Sometimes the garden center employee will know enough to tell the patron that this particular new hydrangea flowers on both old and new wood and that to get the blue flowers your soil will need to be acidic which means a biannual addition of sulphur for most Midwest soils. And, as the name implies, it will rebloom all summer and for years to come. Ah, the perfect shrub. NOT! The common industry name for this plant is Endless Bummer. I have also heard it referred to as Endless Disappointment. Unless you provide optimal conditions (frequent watering and moderate temperature) your specimen will subsequently often go years without producing a single bloom, never mind reblooming. It does have nice large leaves, and that is often all you get. I recommend macrophyllas only if they have variegated leaves. If you should get flowers (often a single head) great, but do not expect it. You want a nice blue reliable hydrangea, get a H. serrata (Mt. Hydrangea), or move to North Carolina or Oregon.

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