Back in January, we told you the plant to watch in 2016 was hydrangeas. Now, six months later, we’re following up to see how that prediction is playing out.
Everyone is familiar with hydrangeas and even though the Endless Summer variety has been around since 2004, the interest has not died out; it’s actually growing.
“It’s been steadily increasing every year,” said Stacey Hirvela, a marketing specialist and horticulturist for Proven Winners. “They have a wide appeal to the end consumer. People see them and want them, but that wouldn’t be enough if they weren’t easy plants to care for as well.”
Natalia Hamill, Bailey Nurseries’ brand manager for Endless Summer, notes that they’ve seen sales go up for hydrangeas and a number of factors are behind its popularity.
“There’s a surge in people investing in creating outdoor living areas and people are looking for plants to complement these spaces,” she said. “Hydrangeas that last all year like Endless Summer have long-season interest.”
Nurseries Caroliniana couldn’t cite a distinct increase in sales since it already grows and sells close to a hundred different varieties of hydrangeas and is known for them, but they have had an increase in comments on how good they look this year.
“The wet and mild winter has meant a phenomenal year for their blooming,” said Peggy Gillingham, a Nurseries Caroliniana staff member.
While it’s clear hydrangeas are enjoying another year of attention, it’s doubtful – despite the serendipity – that Pantone’s 2016 Colors of the Year have been a factor in the increased sales.
“Pantone is a fun thing to play around with and capitalize on the viral interests that the color generates,” Hirvela said. “It was a great fit, but whether or not it drove any sales has yet to be seen. It was definitely a happy coincidence.”
When it comes to the color, the most popular hydrangeas by far are those with blue blossoms, according to growers, while the minority is passionate for pink petals.
“I would say it’s probably split 80/20 blue,” Hirvela said. “The people who don’t want blue really don’t want blue.”
The most iconic of the hydrangeas are the mophead (marcophylla) species, but the species paniculata is experiencing some heightened recognition lately.
“The paniculata Limelight and Little Lime are the ones that get a lot of specific requests,” Gillingham said. “Other ones, they’ll just say they want one of those mophead types.”
Another paniculata that has appealed to a number of customers is Proven Winner’s Fire Light.
“My boss thought it was going to fall through the cracks since there are so many paniculata varieties, but we got great photography of it, and it’s relatively early blooming compared to other paniculata,” Hirvela said. “We have a great ad and got a lot of exposure.”
Proven Winners has noticed the power of social media, which helped two serrata cultivars, Tuff Stuff and Tiny Tuff Stuff, amass attention that was hard to generate initially.
“If people have more exposure to the plant, they’re more likely to want it,” Hirvela said.
Bailey Nurseries hasn’t been twiddling its thumbs since the success of The Original Endless Summer. Bloomstruck is the nursery’s latest addition to the Endless Summer lineup and, according to Hamill, is by far the best performing reblooming variety in many areas.
“There’s a lot of red pigment in the plant so if it’s sold pink, it’s a deep, vibrant pink,” Hamill said. “If it’s sold as a blue, it’s got a rich purple tint to it.”
Gillingham credits Endless Summer for the continued loyalty to hydrangeas.
“People are expecting more for their dollar,” she said. “They don’t really want a one-hit wonder.”
Because of the ability to grow on both old and new growth, buyers can feel secure that even if the winter kills off the buds on the old growth, they will still see some colorful blooms in the summer.
“I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Endless Summer, even more now that it’s been out longer and prices have gone down,” Hirvela said. “People are more willing to take a chance on it. Once they’re successful with that one, they’re more willing to try other types as well.”