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Pastel, big, cold hardy.
Touchdown! Score with this mophead from Coach Vince Dooley's garden in Athens, Georgia.
Some 20 years ago Mike Dirr recruited this hydrangea when he noticed it bloomed every year in Coach Dooley's garden, even after cold winters when other hydrangea types didn't flower. Consistent flowering due to greater cold tolerance is an important asset in the world of major hydrangea sports.
Give Dooley hydrangea some space to do his thing because, like a Bulldog linebacker, this is a big hydrangea. Yes, Gary Starrett (righ) and my husband Mike (left) are a little downhill, but this hydrangea would still tower over them if they were on level land. This is what I was talking about under Nikko Blue about how big hydrangeas can get. When you read 5-6' tall . . . be skeptical. This teammate in Gary's garden in 7-8' tall.
Dooley hydrangea is not remontant, however the greater cold hardiness insures flowering most springs, even after cold winters.
single specimen and accent use
large container use, grouping and massing - large swaths
flower and shrub borders
classic mophead hydrangea for a Deep South gardens
tolerant of salt spray so great for maritime climates
Dooley bigleaf hydrangea
Dooley bigleaf hydrangea, french hydrangea, Dooley mophead hydrangea, hydrangea, hortensia
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
5-6' average, up to 7-8'
5-6' average, up to 7-8'
Spring: medium green
Summer: medium green
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Native to USA?
Soil Moisture Requirements
moist-but-draining, no standing water
Soil pH Requirements
acid, neutral, alkaline
sun, part shade, shade
To Make It Thrive
Give Nikko Blue rich soil and consistent moisture in a soil that drains. It may need extra watering, but doesn't like standing water.
Make sure NB has full shade or afternoon shade in the deep south (zones 8 and 9) not only for the foliage, but so the flowers don't get sun scald. Increasing amounts of sunlight is increasingly tolerable the further north one goes on the map.
Traveling northward, consider planting in warm sheltered locations, such as near heated buildings.
Here in zone 8a, we cover to protect flower buds during spring transition - the up and down temps cause flushes of growth that are then zapped by cold. Covering the growth with old terry cloth towels or thermal blankets generally works to ensure summer flowers.
Is 'Dooley' remontant? No, but Dooley's greater cold tolerance insures flowering most springs.
When do I prune? Bigleaf hydrangea flowers on old wood, so if you need to prune, do so in the summer after flowering. See our blog posts about pruning.