These Hydrangeas Are Not Sissies!

Hydrangea m. Cityline 'Mars'
Hydrangea macrophylla Cityline 'Mars' is tender in the winter, but a definite trooper in the sweltering heat of a Midwest summer. The Cityline series, introduced by Color Choice Plants, is touted for its compact nature. It also could be sold as a plant that swaggers instead of swelters. Throughout each of the days over 85 we've had this season (and there certainly have been a few), Cityline 'Mars' has stood straight and perky, without a droop or a swoon. Its neighbors--'Gertrude Glahn', 'Teller Red', and 'Endless Summer'-- become poster plants for the big wilt in the heat of the day and don't recover until near nightfall.
I received Cityline 'Mars' from Spring Meadow Nursery as a trial plant last year and immediately cut it back to a height of about one foot. It received the benefit of the Zone Up, another trial from Gardeners Supply. This padded tarp with grommets isn't offered any longer as far as I can find, and I can't really say for sure if it's a loss. It looked like just the ticket when I snugged it around 'Mars' for the winter. But as it turned out to be the winter that never was, I can't say for sure if it worked. I'll try it again next season and see if this tender bigleaf hydrangea blooms as well as it has this year.

Another heat-tolerant Hydrangea macrophylla hybrid from the Color Choice line is 'Let's Dance Starlight', a lacecap that blooms on both old and new wood. I'm pretty sure it's blooming on last year's wood, as it's next to a non-remontant variety called 'Schenkenberg' that is blooming for the first time in at least four years. 
Hydrangea m. 'Let's Dance Starlight', a reblooming lacecap
I received 'Let's Dance Starlight' as a trial plant a couple of years ago and gave it a premier location at the edge of the woods behind our house. Although I don't remember amending the soil with aluminum sulphate, I must have, as its flowers are a serious blue without a tinge of pink. 
Here's a cool thing about 'Let's Dance Starlight': it doesn't wilt as much as other macrophyllas (except for 'Mars', of course. Its leaves are not as thick and substantive as those on Cityline 'Mars', but they certainly don't wilt right along with the flowers as most of the other bigleaf hydrangeas do.

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