If you have a moment, would you please check this thread I posted on the Plant Identification forum: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1262878/? I think it is a Hydrangea, but for the life of me I can't figure out which one. Thanks!
Help with plant identification needed
Resembles Shooting Star and Fuji Waterfall but SS/FW have white blooms. I would check these colored ones: Forever & Ever Double, Jogasaki, Izu No Hana and Purple Tiers. Remember that the soil will affect the color so a blue-ish bloom picture could still be the one of your plant (grown in acidic soil).
Thank you so much for your input -- I'll check those!
Each of those seems to have signs of the "cap" -- the ones I saw just have the "shooting stars" but essentially no sign of the cap. Does the cap disappear or appear late? Is it possible that I saw it either before the cap developed or after it disappeared?
Yes, it does disappear in time. The center contains the true flowers and once they are pollinated, they gradually change color and become seed pods if they are fertile. The flowers do not last long on lacecaps because, after pollination, the plant begins to put energy into making seeds. Their flowering season may be measured in just weeks... as opposed to months with mophead hydrangeas.
But on the plant I saw, the plant was literally covered with blooms -- but there were no "caps" showing. So it wasn't that the bloom season had passed, just that the caps were not there.
Right. The flowers get pollinated, turn brown and either fell/disintegrated or become seed pods (if fertile). All the while, the sepals stay on the plant giving the blooms a "lacecaps are not there?!?!" look.
That is so helpful. So then early in the season there is a visible cap; by the end of the flowering season, the cap has been used up? I didn't understand that at all -- thank you so much!
I'm beginning to think luis_pr might be right -- that it could be Purple Tears. Or else Diadem. See the photos at the bottom of http://melissaclarkphotography.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/heavenly-hydrangeas-part-2/, and this photo of Purple Tears, http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/272221/.
Yes, the cap "gets used up" quite fast, around 2-4 weeks. As soon as the flowers are pollinated, they begin to try to produce seeds (provided they are fertile... many are not) and then the lacecap flowers fall down
An eBay seller has Purple Tiers for sale.