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Pink Diamond Hydrangea

Plant of the Week

Pink Diamond Hydrangea
Latin: Hydrangea paniculata 'Pink Diamond'

No photo available.

Of the six plants selected for the 2000 Arkansas Select Program, a joint program between the Cooperative Extension Service, the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Nurseryman’s Association, Pink Diamond Hydrangea is the largest.

It can grow to 10 feet or more in height, so don’t be misled into thinking this is one of the runty house hydrangeas that only get three feet tall.

Pink Diamond Hydrangea is of the "PeeGee" hydrangea tribe. The old fashioned PeeGee was selected in England before 1880 from material originally introduced from Japan in 1861. PeeGee was all the rage during the Victorian era when it was planted extensively across the eastern half of the United States.

An 1888 Burpee catalog I have says, "One of the finest hardy shrubs in cultivation" and offered plants at 20 cents each or three for 50 cents. With such cheap prices, no wonder the plant went on to be so over-used in the landscape. Like all over-used landscape plants, the tide turned and it became the "low class" landscape plant that arborvitae became and Bradford pear is becoming. The catalog goes to on to say that to enjoy this plant to its fullest, it should be pruned annually, something that was often neglected.

Unlike PeeGee, which can grow to 20 tall, Pink Diamond is more refined and probably will stay under 10 feet tall. It has 4-inch long deciduous leaves and a rounded, much-branched form giving the plant an overall coarse texture. Huge white flower heads 12 inches long and 8 inches across appear from mid-July through mid-August.

Individual florets on these heads grow to 1 1/2 inches across. As the flowers age they turn a wonderful rich pink. By the time frost arrives, the sepals on the inflorescence will have turned tan colored.

Pink Diamond was selected by Jelena and Robert de Belder at the Kalmthout Arboretum in Antwerpen, Belgium. The Belders have been breeding hydrangeas since the 1960s with their first selection "Unique," a seedling from PeeGee. Pink Diamond is a 1980s seedling of "Unique."

With the return of the bold-is-beautiful style of landscaping, Pink Diamond should fit right into our modern landscape themes. It is probably best used as a specimen shrub much as crape myrtle is planted. It could be used as a background planting in a mixed border or even as a mass planting in the large landscape. It blooms best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. Unlike most hydrangeas, it has good drought tolerance, but bloom size will be reduced under drier conditions.

Once established Pink Diamond hydrangea should be pruned hard in late spring to encourage long shoots with big flowers. The admonition "prune until you think you have killed it, and then prune some more" applies to this fast growing shrub. It is resistant to most insect and disease problems.

By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - April 14, 2000

 

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture does not maintain lists of retail outlets where these plants can be purchased. Please check your local nursery or other retail outlets to ask about the availability of these plants for your growing area.