Hydrangea ‘Vanilla Strawberry’ (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Renhy’) has taken the gardening world by storm because of its beautiful, full blooms that start out a creamy white in mid-summer, and mature to a rich strawberry-pink color.
This popular hydrangea variety also features showy red stems. Introduced in 2009, ‘Vanilla Strawberry’ was bred in France and is a relative of the classic PeeGee Hydrangea. Just a year later, it was named a top plant by the American Nursery and Landscape Association.
This hydrangea variety grows 6 to 8 feet tall with a spread of 6 feet, but it can be kept smaller with regular pruning. This multi-stemmed shrub is well suited for mass planting or as an addition to a living hedge or border area. “Vanilla Strawberry” hydrangea grows well in full sun, part sun or part shade, making it a versatile shrub in the garden. In fall, the leaves turn yellow before falling. Tolerant of air pollution, this hydrangea is well suited for areas along roadways.
In winter, “Vanilla Strawberry” hydrangea sheds all its leaves and remains bare until the spring growing season. Unlike some deciduous shrubs that have colorful or intricate branches in winter,”Vanilla Strawberry” hydrangea does not have any specific winter visual interest. This cold-hardy shrub can tolerate temperatures down to minus -30 degrees Fahrenheit in the coldest regions of the growing zone. While dormant plants are hardy, but a late freeze in spring will damage tender new shoots.
Late winter is the best time to prune “Vanilla Strawberry” hydrangea. The striking flowers that bloom in late summer and fall develop on new growth produced during the early part of the growing season. A hard prune in late spring will remove blooming shoots and reduce flowering. Prune to control overall shape and size. You can remove up to one-third of the overall mass without damaging the plant. This shrub can look leggy when unpruned.
“Vanilla Strawberry” hydrangea blooms from summer through early fall. The bloom on each stalk is made up of multiple flowers clustered together. Each cluster of flowers is called an inflorescence. The inflorescence grow in a pyramid shape 8 inches long. The individual flowers are white when they first appear in summer and turn pink as the summer progresses, gradually turning red. “Vanilla Strawberry” hydrangea flowers are well suited as cut flowers. To save these showy blooms through the winter, cut and dry the flowers in fall.