Morning! I recently bought my mother beautiful Hydrangea mathilda gutges. I live in Mississauga, ON. I’ve never planted before but I would like to fix up our garden in the back so she has something to look out at through the kitchen window when she’s making delicious food.
I was wondering if you can help give me beginner tips along with a type of soil/ names of other plants that will grow well next to these bad boys.
I also wanted to know if these Hydrangeas can even grow healthy in my zone. (Mississauga ON.)
Thank you so much!
Hi! Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mathilda Gutges’ is sometimes called Bigleaf Hydrangea and is most often sold as an indoor plant in our climate. It is indeed a beautiful plant and a wonderful mother’s day gift. An even nicer gift is your idea of creating a little garden for your Mum outside the kitchen window. There are lots of great Hydrangeas that would be a good start, unfortunately Mathilda Gutges is not the best choice – and I will explain why.
The first step to creating a garden is to know the hardiness zone of your location. This will give you your guide as to what plants will survive our winters. Mississauga is in zone 6a. Hydrangea macrophylla is root hardy to zone 6 – that is the good news, the bad news is that the tender shoots and flower buds are very sensitive to frost, so although it may survive the winter, it will probably not exhibit those amazing flower heads that you saw in the plant store. If however you have a little corner where you can protect Mathilda from winter winds and frost, give her a try! When the plant has finished blooming, cut the stems back leaving only a couple of leaves on each stem. Plant in partial shade, and amend your site with some compost, a handful of bone meal, water well and cover the site with mulch to prevent your plant from drying out too quickly.
Much depends on your site as to what will grow successfully in your garden: Do you have sun? Shade? Or a bit of both? What type of soil do you have? Does it tend to be dry? Or moist? A great idea is to look around your neighbors gardens and see what is growing well. Ask around- people love talking about their gardens and they may even donate some plants! Very importantly check out local garden clubs and/or free gardening lectures at your local library. While you are there, you can pick up a couple of books that will give you lots of advice and ideas of plants and shrubs that thrive in Ontario. Here are some that have been my extremely helpful to me over the years:
The Harrowsmith Perennial Garden, Patrick Lima
Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening in Canada
Tree & Shrub Gardening for Ontario, Alison Beck & Kathy Renwald
But back to your Hydrangea ‘Mathilda Gutges’, since you like the look of this plant, and since it has been the inspiration for your planting a garden, may I make a few suggestions of other Hydrangeas that should give your Mum’s garden a good start:
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’. This is an extremely hardy Hydrangea, it will produce huge heads of blooms even after extremely cold winters, and it is very forgiving of a variety of conditions and has few pest problems. Keep the soil moist, mulch and cut back in the spring.
Hydrangea quercifolia, or Oakleaf Hydrangea is also hardy in zone 6. It has many of the good aspects of arborescens, but has the added bonus of beautiful fall colour on their Oak shaped leaves. It needs little pruning and if your site is very dry this might be the best Hydrangea for you.
Would you like to create a vertical aspect? Try Hydrangea petiolaris or Climbing Hydrangea. This stunning climber will scramble up fences, walls or trellises with little or no support. It is also very winter hardy. It has beautiful lace like flowers in the summer that last for almost a month.
Whatever you decide to plant, soil preparation is crucial. Make sure you remove weeds and debris from your site, turn the soil if it is compacted and add compost or manure to make a welcoming spot for your plants. Mulching after you plant will cut down on the amount of weeding and watering you will have to do.
I suggest you return to the Master Gardener website as we have many gardening guides and links that will provide a wealth of information for your new endeavor. Good luck and continue to check in with the Master Gardeners!