The Hydrangea That Is Made For Those Tight Spots

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The Hydrangea That Is Made For Those Tight Spots

If you adore hydrangeas but have limited space in your garden, don’t worry. Little honey hydrangeas, which belong to the oakleaf hydrangea family, are a perfect option for you. These miniature shrubs have white flowers and chartreuse foliage, and they are much smaller than their 4 to 6 feet tall counterparts. As a result, they can fit into compact spaces with ease. They are relatively easy to maintain and require minimal pruning if provided with the appropriate growing conditions.

What makes little honey hydrangeas delightful is how their small size complements their attractive foliage and showy flowers. This can transform your yard into a visual delight without overwhelming the space, as larger hydrangeas would. Additionally, their branches add visual interest throughout the winter. While these deciduous shrubs are ideal for informal hedges or flowerbed borders, they also make great accent pieces for your patio or near your home’s foundation. They are also suitable for container gardening.

Defining features of little honey hydrangeas

Little honey hydrangea

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Branching off of “Pee Wee” hydrangea quercifolia, little honey hydrangeas are a dwarf cultivar with enchanting color-changing foliage and blooms. These woody shrubs grow to a height of 3 to 4 feet and spread around 3 to 5 feet wide. During spring, they develop coarse, golden-yellowish leaves, which mature into pale yellow-greens as the summer ends, adding a touch of sunshine to your landscape. These five-lobed, oak-shaped leaves grow to around 4 to 7 inches in length and have serrated margins. They turn green when fall sets in and finish off the blooming season in crimson red.

But the real appeal of little honey hydrangeas lies in their delicate, enchanting flowers, which bloom in clusters during the early summer months of June and July. These saucer-shaped, four-petaled flowers are initially a pristine white but gain a soft pink tinge as the season unfolds. They can grow to around 5 inches and continue to blossom sporadically through the fall. During winter, the plant’s stem transforms into a showy red hue, which adds visual depth to the lawn.

Caring for little honey hydrangea

Person pruning hydrangea bush

Natallia Ustsinava/Shutterstock

Besides its vibrant appearance and compact size, this woody shrub’s allure is enhanced with easy maintenance, making it an ideal choice for both novice and experienced gardeners. This drought-tolerant species performs best in partial shade but can withstand full sun exposure for over six hours. It also prefers well-drained, organically rich, moist soils. However, you must top-dress their soil with a mulch layer during the summer to improve water retention. Also, water the shrubs regularly when they start blooming.

Moreover, the little honey hydrangea grows flowers on the previous year’s growth or old wood. To encourage new growth, prune the damaged stems after the flowering season ends or during early spring. Although honey hydrangeas are hardy in zones 5 to 9, hydrangeas require TLC in winter, especially those growing in zone 5. As the woody shrub loses its buds or dies out when temperatures dip below -10 degrees Fahrenheit, move it to a more sheltered location. When moving is not an option, add an additional mulch layer to the soil and wrap it in burlap. Like other oakleaf hydrangea varieties, the bark of the little honey hydrangea peels off at maturity.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.