Embrace this species
One of the toughest and most adaptable of all hydrangeas that tolerates full sun, Peegee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora') is also one of the most coarse-textured shrubs that’s difficult to incorporate into the landscape. ‘Grandiflora’ is a deciduous large shrub or small tree that grows 15 to 25 ft. high and 10 to 20 ft. wide with a fountain-like habit. Panicles of creamy-white flowers produced on current season’s growth open in June, July, and August; they age to a bronze-pink and eventually tan-brown. Since flowers occur on current season’s growth, prune as needed in late winter to early spring.
Recently plant breeders embraced this species and created more than 80 cultivars that embody the ruggedness and durability of panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata). These cultivars look nothing like your grandmother’s Pee Gee hydrangea. The come in various shapes, sizes and colors. Several outstanding cultivars that you should include in your landscape include ‘Brussels Lace,’ 'DVPpinky' Pinky Winky®, ‘Floribunda,’ ‘Interhydia' Pink Diamond™, ‘Kyushu,’ 'Lammetje' Little Lamb, ‘Pee Wee,’ ‘Tardiva,’ ‘Unique,’ ‘White Lace,’ and ‘Webb.’
They are best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. They can be trained as a small single trunk tree, but is best grown as a large, multi-stemmed shrub. They may display best shrub form if regularly pruned to a height of 6-10’ tall. This is one of the most winter hardy of the hydrangeas. It thrives in urban conditions. Bloom occurs on current season’s growth, so prune as needed in late winter to early spring.
Hydrangea paniculata, commonly called panicle hydrangea, is a vigorous, upright, rapid-growing, somewhat coarsely textured, deciduous shrub that is native to China and Japan. It typically grows to 8-15’ (less frequently to 25’) tall, and features oval to ovate dark green leaves and upright, sharply-pointed, conical, terminal flower panicles (to 6-8” long) containing both fertile and sterile flowers (mostly non-showy fertile flowers) that bloom from summer into fall.
No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to bud blight, bacterial wilt, leaf spot, rust and mildew. Aphids and mites are occasional visitors.