The ashy hydrangea is a bit weird – it has two types of flowers, kind of like sunflowers. The inner flowers are the fertile ones that are in the inner portion of the inflorescence. The outer ones are merely there to attract pollinators.
This member of their own family (Hydrangeaceae) is a native of the interior portions of the southeast and the mid-eastern United States. It is a woody shrub that grows to a maximum of about 3 feet tall. There may be more than 100 individual, small flowers on each inflorescence at the end of each branch.
Ashy hydrangea grows in upland and rock outcrop sites in our region. The flowers are mostly white or a creamy white color. It prefers nearly neutral or basic soils. Flowering usually is found in late spring and lasts most of the summer. It can stand most sunlight conditions, from full sun to partial shade.
This plant is used as an accent plant in gardens. It can be planted in forests with a reduced understory to bring attention to this area.
The name hydrangea comes from the Greek words “hydro,” meaning water, and “angos,” meaning vessel, which together roughly translate to “water barrel.” This is because of the fact that hydrangeas are notorious for needing lots of water and they have cup-shaped flowers.
This species gets its name from the dense pubescent grayish hairs on the bottom of the leaves.
Bees, beetles, and wasps are often attracted to the flowers.
They are grown and available in the arboretum of the Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.
Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.
Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!
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Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.