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Janet Macunovich

How dwarf are these hydrangeas?

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There have been so many new shrub selections in the past few years that claim distinction for small size. We are waiting on many to see what they will really do in the landscape, after a few years in place. We've taken this stance ever since we saw dwarf fothergilla (F. gardenii) and dwarf sweetspire (Itea virginica) hit double the height claimed on their pot-tags.


It's not that we dispute the definition of "dwarf" If it's smaller than the species we agree it's dwarf. Dwarf lilac at 6-8' is dwarfer than 12-15' standard lilac; a 20' dwarf Alberta spruce is still a midget beside its 60-80 foot parent. What we gripe about is misrepresentation as dwarfer than it really will be, just to sell a plant.


We'd like to know if you see any of these significantly surpass their catalog description height. Of course we welcome additions to the list.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Quick Fire' - 8'

Ceanothus o. 'Sugar Shack' (buttonbush) 4'

Physocarpus o. 'Tiny Wine' (elderbery) 4'

Salix 'Hakuro Nishiki' (dappled willow) 5'

Weigela 'My Monet' 18"

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SueJ sent me a personal message she says it's okay to share. Her experience with 'Quick Fire' is an example of why we ay wait and see. New introductions in the plant world are so often grown by tissue culture and rushed out to market that we don't see the vigor and stature they will have, not at the start. Note, above, that I'm doubting 'Quick Fire's' less-than-eight foot claim while SueJ is under the impression it's even smaller.


'...last spring, I bought a Little Quickfire' panicle hydrangea. I couldn't believe all the flowers it got the first year! I loved it....I will wait a few years to see how big it gets. My neighbor who thought I was crazy going to a nursery on an early spring rainy day... she teased me about buying this little shrub with only a few very tiny green leaves on it. Now after seeing it bloom and leaf out so well, I told you so!..hmmm she now wants one this year."

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