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Hydrangea (3)

Past attempts by Iowa gardeners to paint their landscape in vivid blue (often trying ‘Nikko Blue’) produced primarily disappointment.

And then came the Endless Summer hydrangea series. The Original, introduced by Bailey Nurseries in 2003, ushered in a new era — hydrangeas that bloom on both old and new wood, generating blooms throughout the growing season. These plants are also chameleons, changing color with changing soil pH.

The Original as well as its Endless Summer teammate Twist-n-Shout (a reblooming lacecap), ‘Penny Mac’, and Let’s Dance all have the capacity to be bright pink, bright blue, or shades in between.

If you add enough acid to Iowa soil (work in garden sulfur or fertilize with Miracid), flowers will turn blue.

(Due to all that native limestone, Iowa soils tend to be neutral or slightly alkaline. Thus, with no soil modification, these hydrangeas generally bloom pink.)

Endless Summer The Original (top) photo courtesy Bailey Nurseries (

Contrary to popular belief, adding acid to the soil has little impact on the overall health and development of a hydrangea — only on the flower color. 

For now, I am reserving judgment. I’ve tried several Endless Summer The Original hydrangeas in my Ames garden, and my experience has been echoed by some gardeners I’ve consulted.

The leaves tend to freeze in early spring, and thereafter the plant merely limps along. A mature plant is supposed to get 3 to 5 feet tall, but mine have all stayed at a couple of feet.

After four years the plants in my garden have not flowered significantly — only a few pinkish blooms.

(Editor’s note: Endless Summer confirms reports of inconsistent flower production, especially in cooler climates. Read the company’s consumer advice online at > Tips for Blooming Success) Still, others report great success. And even blue blooms!

(Read more The Hydrangea Hunt)

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