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beyond true blue

Mopheads & Lacecaps

(Hydrangea macrophylla)

Favorites: Nikko Blue, Blue Billow, Angel Wings, Penny Mac, Blue Wave, Blue Eyes, Blushing Bride, Endless Summer, Veitchii, Amethyst, Pia, Pink Elf.

The most common hydrangea is the mophead, the big, blue, multi-flowered shrub that graces just about every backyard and town street on Cape Cod and the Islands. Today, mopheads (Hydrangea macrophylla) come in a huge array of colors and sizes. To make things even more confusing, the more frilly lacecap varieties are also part of the Hydrangea macrophylla family. Both mopheads and lacecaps are perhaps the easiest hydrangeas to grow.

Hydrangea Days

Like their cousins, the Hydrangea paniculata and arborescens cultivars, mopheads and lacecaps bloom easily and for a long period every summer and fall when planted in the right environment. This means planting each shrub in well aerated, healthy soil with lots of organic matter, preferably near a reliable water source with the right amount of sunlight. There are a few rules to follow for hydrangeas: these shrubs do not like wet feet, which means it is not a good idea to plant hydrangeas in an area where the soil is soggy or claylike. But just to confuse you even further, hydrangeas struggle in uniformly hot, dry climates: hydrangea flowers and foliage prefer moderate, moist and cool environments, like Cape Cod and the Islands, or Japan, the native country of many hydrangeas.

Hydrangea Days

Most hydrangeas need a lot of sun (at least four hours per day), but many varieties will wilt and look awful in an area with hot afternoon sunlight; these high-performing flower factories are much happier in less intense morning sun. We have learned the hard way that hydrangeas thrive on almost every side of our Cape house: north, south, and east, where we have thriving mopheads, lacecaps, Pee Gees, and paniculatas that perform well without irrigation or supplemental watering of any kind after their first year or two of planting. However, on the western side, which bakes in the afternoon sun, our “Nikko” mopheads and “Blue Billow” lacecaps will wilt dramatically if not watered nearly every day in the summer.

My favorite mopheads and lacecaps are above, but if you have a specific size or color in mind, ask your landscaping company or your local nursery. There is the perfect mophead and lacecap for every hydrangea lover out there.

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About

Susan Dewey is the associate publisher and editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. She lives in Centerville on Cape Cod and enjoys gardening, sailing, walking on the beach, gallery hopping, cooking with fresh seafood, and exploring Cape Cod and the Islands from shore to shore.

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