Five questions with Natalia Hamill

Ask the Experts - Advertorial | Ask the Experts: Hydrangeas

Natalia Hamill, brand and business development manager at Bailey, describes top consumer trends in hydrangeas and explains why Summer Crush is different from other Hydrangea macrophylla on the market.

March 21, 2019

1. Last year, you unveiled Summer Crush. One of its key features is its bold pink color. How can gardeners maintain the hue?

We are introducing it as raspberry red or pink. In areas of the country where the soil is acidic, even though the consumer may buy the raspberry pink or red, it may eventually turn a vibrant purple just because of the natural soil pH. If they want to keep the pink or red tones, they would have to do something to amend the soil.

2. What else makes this hydrangea different than others on the market?

It is a compact plant, which for a hydrangea is a big selling point. Of everything we have in the Endless Summer Collection, it is the most compact plant. It’s going to depend on the area of the country where it is grown, but 2 to 3 feet wide and tall is about the maximum size it is going to get.

For gardeners with smaller spaces, it is ideal, and it is a fantastic plant for containers because of that habit. It continues to set new buds and new flowers even while those older blooms are still on the plant, so it’s a heavy bloomer. BloomStruck is one of the parents, so like BloomStruck, it’s very heat resistant and wilt resistant. It’s got that dark green leaf and waxy cuticle, and that’s what prevents it from wilting down in the middle of the day, which a lot of the macrophyllas do.

3. What resources do you provide consumers so that they are successful growing Endless Summer hydrangeas?

Texting is still the easiest resource we have for gardeners to be successful with plants. All they have to do is sign up, and then they get timely reminders on things that need to be done, whether it’s [when to] fertilize or [water], because you sign up based on your region of the country. We don’t try to sell anything; it’s simply to help them be successful. Text feeds are very useful, and we know it’s working because people who sign up don’t opt out. We also have a ton of information on our consumer website. We get a lot of questions that come in on Facebook and other social media platforms, so we use those questions that are coming in to feed the information on the website so that those resources are there. A very common question is, what should I plant with this? So we are working on providing design ideas and plant combination ideas for consumers.

4. What are hydrangea breeders working on now?

One of our breeding objectives at Bailey Innovations is to constantly improve remontancy, or its ability to form new flowers on new growth. And when I say improve, I mean faster, so it starts reblooming earlier in the season and throws more blooms. We are breeding for double-flowered hydrangeas. We are breeding for special coloring and patterns. No matter what category we are shooting for, we are still looking for that remontancy, cold hardiness, speed to rebloom and compact habit.

5. Are there specific trends emerging in hydrangeas?

People are using hydrangeas in deco pots on their patios or balconies as a seasonal item. We are also getting a lot of questions about overwintering hydrangeas in containers. I tell them, when it starts to get cold, move that container into a protected area. (I have an unheated garage that’s connected to the house.) Then, move the containers back out in spring, and you have this big root system with stems that have been protected, and you get really nice plants. People also love to cut the flowers and bring them in.

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