Tag Archives: evergreen hydrangea

Plant Collector: Dichroa versicolour

Dichroa versicolour - flowers all year round here

Dichroa versicolour – flowers all year round here

It is a member of the hydrangea family and grows like a hydrangea. But the beauty of the dichroa for us is that it flowers for pretty much twelve months of the year. The trade off is that we never get the massed seasonal display that we usually associate with hydrangeas, but it is rare not to see a few cones of pure blue flowers.

A Google search suggests that not all dichroas have as good a colour as we expect in New Zealand. It was Taranaki plantsman Glyn Church who introduced the dichroa to this country and I would guess that the form he brought in has consistently good blue colour.

This is a relatively large growing evergreen which is a back of the border plant. It is quite happy in sun or shade. This plant is growing beneath a huge magnolia. If you don’t trim it from time to time, it will get large – in the 3m x 3m range. I keep this specimen under control and a little denser in growth by trimming back long branches to the lowest point where there are clearly two growth shoots on the stem. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of the year this is done so I just snip and clip when the flowers on the branch have finished or before buds have formed. It is native to North Burma and the Yunnan area of China and is reasonably hardy.

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

Tikorangi Notes: Monday April 25, 2011

Tree hydrangea of uncertain classification

Tree hydrangea of uncertain classification

This wonderful tree hydrangea is a sight to behold down our avenue gardens this week. I say tree because the plant is now about five metres high. The flowers are enormous – fully 45cm across each individual head but most things about this plant lean to the large. It is an unknown species (though currently classified in the aspera group, despite bearing little resemblance to most asperas) and fully evergreen. In NZ, it is commonly referred to as the Monkey Bridge hydrangea, collected in China. It is brittle, tender and very large – not suited to all gardens – but what an unusual delight in flower.

Flowering this week: Dichroa versicolor

Flowering this week and pretty much most weeks of the year here - Dichroa versicolor

This plant has the most endearing habit of flowering pretty well all year. The trade-off is that when you get a plant which flowers in random sequence all over the bush, you don’t usually get the wham bang impact of a mass flowering all at once but it is rewarding to be able to see the deep blue dichroa flowers all year. It is an evergreen member of the hydrangea family, hailing from China, and was introduced to this country by our very own Taranaki nurseryman, gardener and garden writer, Glyn Church. Most of the evergreen hydrangeas are sensitive to frost and cold temperatures but the dichroa has shown more hardiness than you would expect with its large leaves and is fine with moderate frosts. Grow it under some overhead tree cover if you are worried about your winter temperatures. It also tolerates a wide range of conditions, sun and shade, wet and dry.

Left unpruned, it will get quite large – around the 3 metres high and 2.5 metres wide mark or even larger over time but I frequently trim long growths back to a point in the stem where I can see twin leaf buds either side. A little pruning often is a better strategy with this plant if you can. It means you can avoid cutting off the flower buds. You can never have too much blue in the garden I feel, and a plant which flowers for the better part of the year and is a true blue certainly justifies its position.