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Sale New Hydrangea arborescens 'Balsam' (smooth hydrangea)

Hydrangea arborescens 'Balsam' (smooth hydrangea)

$29.00
Next available Monday or Tuesday

Unavailable Available Only few left Out of Stock Pre-order
Shrub

Smooth hydrangea is a cherished shrub that has two check marks in its favor:

✔ it's a native hydrangea
✔ it's a slow colonizer

We love plants that colonize an area. Colonizers do the work of filling in gaps for us, so we think down the road and give them extra feet to spread over the years. This native hydrangea is a gentle colonizer - it plays nicely with its neighbors.

The texture of the leaves are evocative of the Appalachian forests (even when seen from a car window - they are along so many roadsides in the mountains) so that Hydrangea arborescens fits into the native forest gardens and suburban-urban gardens of the East Coast with that sense of place many of us are cultivating in our backyards.

'Balsam' is also knows as 'Highland Lace' because of the lacy mophead flowers (see pic for 1,000 words of explanation).

These flowers are remontant - if you prune off the spent flowers, you will likely get a second flush.

This is one of those hydrangeas that will give you fall color. It's the color of our favorite Kerry Gold butter from grass fed cows.

We have two of these planted in our woodland garden (along with a few secret ones that may be introduced one day - sorry couldn't help the teaser).

Here's an explanation of the flowers in the pictures.

  • The big while ones are how they look in full glory.
  • There's a close up of the full glory phase - showing how it has a few fertile florets flowers tucked amongst the sterile florets.
  • Then there's a pic next to a true 1 gallon pot for scale (not one of the smaller "trade" gallons) and then a panned-out shot showing the habit in flower.
  • We show two pics of the broccoli phase - just emerging green florets.
  • Then two pictures of mature flower heads. They turn back to chartreuse green with age.
  • spreads to colonize an area
  • remontant if prune off the first round of spent flower heads (remontant means it will rebloom)
  • cold tolerant
  • heat tolerant
  • remontant
  • long flowering period
  • cut flowers
Common Name
Balsam smooth hydrangea, smooth hydrangea
Other Names
'Highland Lace'
USDA Hardiness Zones
4a-9b
Size
medium
Class
flowering shrub, deciduous
Shape
round
Height
4-5'
Width
4-5'
Growth Rate
average
Flower Color
white
Showy Flower?
yes
Flower Season
spring
Leaf Colors
  • Spring: medium green
  • Summer: medium green
  • Fall: yellow
Fall Leaf Color Quality
good
Ornamental Bark?
yes
Bark Feature
peeling
Native to USA?
yes
Native To
Eastern US
Soil Moisture Requirements
moist-but-draining, no standing water
Soil pH Requirements
acid, neutral, alkaline
Light Requirements
sun, part shade, shade
To Make It Thrive
Give Hydrangea arborescens 'Balsam' rich soil plus consistent moisture in a soil that drains. It may require extra watering, but no standing water. Place it in full shade or afternoon shade in the deep south (zones 8 and 9), but full sun is okay farther north. Best flowering is with some sun.
Plant Patent
n/a
Is this a pollinator plant?
Smooth hydrangea in general is definitely a pollinator plant. On 'Balsam' we see some fertile florets tucked amongst the showy sterile florets, but we have yet to see insects working them.

Other types of smooth hydrangea cultivars (lacecap types) are fertile and therefore bees come to them for nectar. We are collecting some to propagate and offer here in the future.

Rule of thumb: If you run across mophead smooth hydrangeas, such as this one, 'Annabelle', and 'Incrediball', you can assume they are mostly sterile. The fertile ones aren't quite as showy, so there's this trade-off to balance as best you see fit in your own garden. We like to have some of these mopheads coupled with less showy fertile forms. Personally, we enjoy looking at the fertile (lacecap) forms just as much as the largely sterile (mophead) types.

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