Caring for a hydrangea tree (actually a shrub that has been trained into tree form), is as easy as caring for any other PeeGee hydrangea. And, like other PeeGees, you will be delighted by the profusion of large, magnificent blooms that look beautiful left on the plant or cut for fresh and dried arrangements.
PeeGees, also called “panicle hydrangeas” or “hydrangea paniculata,” are best known for their showy, pyramid-shaped clusters of flowers that appear in late summer. The entire flowering cycle is attractive, starting with the buds that open to a cluster of pale green flowers, gradually changing to white and then finally darkening to pinkish beige. ‘Limelight’ is a popular variety, the flowers of ‘Pinky Winky’ are two-toned, and ‘Quickfire’ blooms earlier than other cultivars. Hardiness is dependent on the cultivar, but most will grow in zones 3 through 8.
When selecting your plant, look for a strong, straight trunk. Hydrangea trees do well in full sun as long as the planting site is not overly dry, but the flowers hold up best when they get some afternoon shade, especially in southern gardens. They are not fussy about soil pH, but prefer fertile, well-drained soil. Amend soil with compost or other organic matter, and plant so that the top of the root ball is even with the soil surface. Water well and mulch.
Hydrangea trees can be pruned in spring. Pruning will encourage larger blooms. Don’t prune in summer, as this will remove buds and reduce flowering. In spring, cover the base of the plant with compost or manure. PeeGees can be propagated from six to eight-inch cuttings, preferably from branches that haven’t already bloomed. Remove bottom two leaves, dip cutting in a rooting hormone and insert into a container of moistened vermiculite. Cover with a clear plastic bag and place in bright light, but not direct sun.