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PeeGee Hydrangeas

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Picture of hydrangea tree.

Picture of hydrangea tree.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of PeeGee Hydrangeas:

Plant taxonomy classifies PeeGee hydrangeas as Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora.' This is a case where the Latin genus name (Hydrangea) is so commonly used that it essentially doubles as a common name; when used as a common name, I don't capitalize the word. 'Grandiflora' is the cultivar name. PeeGee hydrangea is spelled in a number of other ways, including "Pee Gee" and "P. G."; writers are also at odds when it comes to whether the "P" and/or "G" are capitalized. But people generally agree that the "P. G." could just as easily stand for "pretty good," as these bushes are quite useful to have in one's landscaping.

Plant Type:

Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' plants are flowering deciduous shrubs. You'll also hear "tree hydrangea" (or "hydrangea tree") in reference to this plant, because it can be pruned so as to have a single trunk (i.e., you can train it to be a "standard"; see below).

Characteristics of PeeGee Hydrangea Shrubs:

PeeGee hydrangeas will grow anywhere from 10 to 25 feet in height; exact height and spread will depend on pruning and growing conditions. They come into flower in mid-to-late summer. The large flower heads (or "panicles") contain white "blooms" that are actually mainly sterile sepals; as such, they last a long time. The flower heads will take on a pinkish color before fading to tan or brown for the winter.

Planting Zones for PeeGee Hydrangea Plants:

Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' bushes can be grown in planting zones 3-8. The species plants are indigenous to Japan and China.

Sun and Soil Requirements for PeeGee Hydrangea Plants:

Grow Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' shrubs in full sun in order for them to flower best. The soil should be well-drained and enriched by humus. A soil pH that is slightly acidic is preferred.

Outstanding Characteristic of PeeGee Hydrangea Plants:

I'd have to list three features as being most outstanding for Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora':

  1. Large flower heads
  2. Persistence of flower heads
  3. Time of bloom

On this last point, note that, because they bloom later than do many shrubs and trees, PeeGee hydrangeas afford you a chance to achieve uninterrupted "sequence of bloom" -- i.e., staggering blooming periods in your plantings so that you have flowers to admire for much of the growing season.

PeeGee Hydrangea Trees (Tree Form):

PeeGee hydrangea plants, although multi-stemmed shrubs by nature and by classification, can be pruned so as to have a single trunk, thereby becoming -- de facto, if not technically -- "tree hydrangeas."

If you have a hydrangea shrub that you'd like to train to be a hydrangea tree, begin the process in spring by selecting the straightest stem -- this will be the trunk of the tree hydrangea. Prune out the other stems (and continue pruning them out in future years). Stake the selected stem to provide temporary support. In future years, prune your hydrangea tree so that its branching pattern will conform to the desired shape and dimensions.

Care for PeeGee Hydrangea Trees -- Maintenance Pruning:

PeeGee hydrangea trees bloom on new wood. If you're looking to shape them, you can prune in late fall, winter, or early spring without the danger of losing buds that will become next year's flowers.

Uses in Landscaping:

If you train your Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' plants to become tree hydrangeas, they will make fine specimens. In shrub form, PeeGee hydrangeas can be used in a hedge. For further resources on hedges, please see:

Meaning of the Name for Hydrangea Paniculata 'Grandiflora':

Why all the variant spellings for "PeeGee" hydrangea plants? And how the heck did they come up with a name like "PeeGee," anyhow? "PeeGee" is short for paniculata 'Grandiflora,' this hydrangea's specific epithet and cultivar name. Technically, then, "p. G." would be perhaps the most sensible spelling. But at some point, people decided to get cute, I guess, and turn the abbreviation into a word (or two words, for those who prefer "Pee Gee"). So it's no wonder one now sees the name spelled in so many different ways.

The specific epithet paniculata means "panicled" and refers to the cone shape that the bush's flowers assume; you'll occasionally see the bushes referred to as "panicle hydrangeas." The cultivar name, too, is based on what the flowers look like: 'Grandiflora'means "large-flowered."

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