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Sale Hydrangea macrophylla Cherry Explosion™ (bigleaf hydrangea)

Hydrangea macrophylla Cherry Explosion™ (bigleaf hydrangea)

Next available Monday or Tuesday

Unavailable Available Only few left Out of Stock Pre-order

This is a hot-colored lacecap - we are seeing it colored hot pink even in our pine bark-based growing medium (which tends toward acidic), but we imagined it would be correspondingly saturated purple or dark blue in acidic soils. The pink-purple flower picture from Mike Dirr confirms that purple will exhibit in neutral pH soils.

July 2018 we stalked Hydrangeas for 7 days on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and saw only this expression of hot cherry pink. Never once did we see blue. Other hydrangea stalkers confirmed that it strongly holds the pink coloration and nobody else has yet seen it blue.

The plant is definitely more compact that other macs in size, so it's good choice for smaller spaces. Yet, the lacecaps are hefty and robust - this is not a timid flowerer.

Our fifth flowerhead picture shows how the sterile florets flip over and age lighter pink after the center fertile flowers have been pollinated. Look closely and you can see all the ovaries swelling and fruit forming where there were once fertile flowers.

It's listed by the introducer, Star Roses and Plants, as hardy in zone 4, but we are very conservative with Hydrangea zone hardiness and successful blooming, so we're listing it as zone 6. We would love to hear from you if you're growing it in cold climates.

It's newish, can you tell we still have a lot to learn about it? But . . . after two summers of having a plant here in zone 8a, we know the name is apt and we love, love, love Cherry Explosion bigleaf hydrangea.

  • deeply saturated lacecap
  • large lacecaps
  • single specimen and accent use
  • large container use
  • grouping and massing - large swaths
  • flower and shrub borders
  • tolerant of salt spray so great for maritime climates
  • heat tolerant
  • cut flowers
Common Name
Cherry Explosion bigleaf hydrangea, bigleaf hydrangea, lacecap hydrangea, hydrangea
Other Names
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
Growth Rate
Flower Color
pink, purple
Showy Flower?
Flower Season
Leaf Colors
  • Spring: medium green
  • Summer: dark green
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Native to USA?
Native To
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 Cherry Explosion rich soil plus consistent moisture in a soil that drains. It may require extra watering, but avoid standing water. Grow it in 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. Full sun is okay farther north. For flowering in cold climates, situate it in a warm sheltered location. During the ups and downs of spring temps here in Zone 8a - we cover to protect flower buds.
Plant Patent
'McKay' PPAF
The flower color is not as you described, it's paler.
Yes, I've come to the conclusion that Hydrangeas don't like to have their flower color profiled and clinically categorized like we humans try to do to everyone and everything. Please keep in mind that flower color varies widly and wildly depending on soil pH and the amount of aluminum actually in your soil, the amount of time aluminum has been availalbe to the plant (did you add Al only last month?), the unique propensity of how each cultivar reacts to Al, and if the flower heads get a touch of sunshine as they age.

The flower color is not as you described, it seems darker to me.
Same issues as when it's paler; say after me, "a-lum-i-num-a-vail-a-bil-i-ty plus time plus cultivar plus a touch of sunshine."

This is science for sure, but also a whole lot of art. Enjoy the outcome Mother Nature deals!

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