So, I'm zone 8b, I have a majorly shaded area in the front yard anchored by 2 large live oaks. As the trees grow, I have more and more shade. There is a sprinkler system but 2 years ago, I moved to total organics (I am 300 feet from Lake Conroe, a water supply for the city of Houston) and between the dramatic switch from synthetic NPK and the additional growth of the oaks, I am loosing lawn. I have the idea of
using the hydreangea petiolaris - first planting next to the oaks, to climb upward but also letting some of them go ground level as ground cover. "eh? Think this will work? I have put major effort into improving the soil over the last several years. I could rock off the area before the trees and the house as this area has a graduated slope so could amend the soil even more. So, if this could work, with an acid soil,
what amendments would I need to look at with this heat and humidity to make this work?
I have not tried growing H. petiolaris in this area because it tries to reach the top of whatever it is climbing before it begins to have outstanding bloomage. And that is fine; the problem occurs once it reaches the top. With the summer heat, the leaves at the top of the tree sunscorch and the blooms dry out early.
I am curious about the idea of using it as ground cover though; not sure how it would behave. I am sure it would like something to climb and attach to so what would it do when it just finds soil? Hmmmm. If it does not have something sturdy to attach to, would stormy winds "wreack havoc" some times? I am sure it would cover the rocks asap as I have seen specimens over 100' long in the northeast. Hydrangeas like moist, acidic, well draining soil so anything that helps provide these conditions will help. Add some manure or cottonseed meal; plus lots of mulch.
My climbing Hydrangea has become a great gound cover! It was the plant's choice to do this and I am very happy it did. Once I see a vine rooted I snip it from the mother and let it stay where it is. Not only is it smothering any weed that tries to grow, but I always have a bounty of babies to give away. This isn't the greatest pic, but gives an idea of behavior.
Venu, I am thinking about putting it in my perennial garden to use more for stopping weeds than anything. I started the perennial garden several years ago and just kept trying to fill it in. It is looking pretty good but the plants still have a short distance between them. What do you think? How large a space, garden, would you think it would need? How long have you had yours as a ground cover?
Luis,I doubt we would have that problem since we are zone 5 here and you are in Texas. We have cold weather, I mean like winter cold, 6 months out of the year so our hot seasons are very short. Really hot, like around 100, I know that isn't really hot to you, but only for a couple weeks.
I see above, where you say it grows so long before it blooms. Well, the one I bought in a gallon can had blooms along the length of it. Now that makes me wonder if we have the same plant. I am going to see if mine still has the tag.
Ok, Hydrangea anomala petiolaris. It is in a 2.59 qt container. Now I would call it more than a gallon, it is about 3 feet tall (long?) and has 5 dead blooms on it. Very attractive bark. It says 20 ft climbing and -30 to -20 F.
Vigorous deciduous vine bears clusters of large white flowers. Foliage, flowers and interesting bark makes this a good plant for all four seasons. Train on arbors, trellises.
I am not sure which cultivar I have. It likes to crawl on the ground as well as up. It's very easy to keep it in bounds by running the lawn mower over it. That just seems to thicken it. However I can't see it as a ground cover with perennials that need some "leg" room. I think the Hydrangea would eventually smother it. It works well with shrubs and subshrubs.
I have taken care of one for 7 years but it has been in it's spot for I would think about 10 years. It faces North with some morning sun too. It grows well. Every couple of years (or when needed) I give it a good haircut with no problems, just fewer flowers the next year. I live in Ladysmith.