Pinky Winky hydrangea: standing the test of time

Some plants just don’t stand the test of time, at least not in this zone 4 climate. I’m thinking of some shrubs in particular. Sure, they may be doing well in some situations, but overall they’re not a reliable performer, one that I would recommend to a homeowner.  

For instance, many of the viburnums just haven’t performed well enough that I’d go out and buy several and plant a hedge with them. Potentilla is another one. Although hardier than an eskimo, potentilla is iffy when it comes to flowering, it seems to have to be in just the right spot. One year it may flower well, the next year you’re wondering what happened. I’ve also found it to be one of the most difficult shrubs to prune. It acts like it would rather be left alone, and perhaps it should be.

Even many of the hydrangeas are a little persnickety when it comes to flowering. I wish I had a nickle for every time someone says they’re having trouble getting their hydrangea to flower.

Pinky Winky hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Dvppinky’) is the exception. They don’t have a tough guy image, like potentilla, and to look at them in a photograph you might wonder if they will really do well in this climate (something this beautiful can’t do that well up here, can it?) Lo and behold, they can and they do.

Plant Pinky Winky’s in a mostly sunny spot with good soil and drainage and a way they go. I’ve never done the measurements, but they must grow about 8 inches per year. Before you know it you’re enjoying they prolific blooms that start out a soft white and eventually turn a deep pink, starting from the bottom of the 8-12 inch tall blooms, leaving a white ruffle at the top.

This past week I did my annual pruning of about a dozen of these full-grown plants. They’ve stood the test of time for sure. They’ve been in the same spot for almost 10 years now. Every year, like clockwork, they bloom heavily, putting on a show for those who pass by.  

Here are a few tips for planting and care of Pinky Winky hydrageas.

Bloom time: late summer into fall

Planting: Plant in reasonably fertile soil that drains well

Sun: Prefers mostly sun

Care and maintenance: fertilizer in the spring with a slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote or my favorite, Espoma’s Hollytone.

Pruning: in fall or early spring, prune away the spent flower heads, making your cut above the first node below the spent bloom (see photo)

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