Plant Collector: Hydrangea serrata “Preziosa”

Hydrangea "Preziosa" - generally colour stable in all soil conditions.

Hydrangea “Preziosa” – generally colour stable in all soil conditions.

In the world of summer flowering shrubs, hydrangeas are surely king. There are many others beyond the common macrophylla types and the serrata family from Japan and Korea are perhaps a little more refined. Certainly they are smaller growing and perfect for semi shaded positions. “Preziosa” is a hybrid but predominantly of serrata lineage. It is a smaller moptop – the pompom type of flowers. Two factors set it apart from many others. Its colouring is not affected by soil type and its flowers change colour as they age so you get a range of different colours on the one bush. They open green, changing through yellow tones to cream, fading to white with pink tinges on the petals, then deepening to pink shades and ending up dark cherry red. It also has attractive red stems and the foliage is often tinged red.

“Preziosa” is a not happy in full sun and it particularly dislikes hot, dry conditions. I moved these plants from an area where there was too much root competition from surrounding trees and they perked up enormously in well dug soil with plenty of compost added but still in open shade. They reach about 150cm in height and a metre wide, making them a good option for smaller, town gardens.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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