The Plant of the Year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is now in it’s 9th year, and the contest has seen some amazing introductions- from tropical hardy Foxgloves to patio Mulberry trees. However, 2018 was the year of the Hydrangea, as ‘Runaway Bride’ clinched the title of Plant of the Year. This new breakthrough variety boasts the flower power we’ve always dreamt of, and is set to the change the world of the UK’s favourite shrub…
Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ is a pivotal moment in the world of horticulture, as it’s the very first Hydrangea to produce flowers from every leaf joint, not just at the tips! Plants become laden with blooms, and hence have a wider range of uses in the garden, as the laden stems produce blooms like confetti. It can even be grown in hanging baskets and tumbling over walls and rockeries!
Despite years of being maligned, Hydrangea are back in vogue again, thanks to the recent revival in vintage style flowers. I wonder if Madonna has changed her mind about them though?? She has been quoted as ‘absolutely loathing Hydrangeas’.
A whole new class of plant for your garden
‘Runaway Bride’ is the brainchild of Ushio Sakazaki, the skilled Japanese breeder who changed the world of Petunias with the introduction of ‘Surfinia’, which is now one of the most recognised plant brands around the world. He also selected the very first ‘mini petunias’ (Calibrachoa), released as the Million Bells Series.
Most standard Hydrangea macrophylla produce their flower buds on stems produced the previous year. This is also true of ‘Runaway Bride’, however the side buds ALSO produce flowers, creating garlands of blooms all along the graceful stems, up to 20 flower heads per stem! Rather than just the icing on the cake, you now have a plant drenched in icing!
The lace-cap blossoms are pure white, gently tinged with pink as they age. There are SIX times as many blooms as a usual Hydrangea, and they just keep on coming- from May to September. Unlike blue and pink Hydrangeas, ‘Runaway Bride’ is always the same colour too, differences in soil pH will not affect the colouring.
How would you use this Hydrangea into your outdoor space? The possibilities are endless!
How was this plant created?
Once Ushio Sakazaki had revolutionised Petunias, he set to work on the much-loved Hydrangea. He searched around for species with more flowers. He studied their habit and branching carefully before choosing an Asian species for crossing with the commonly known Hydrangea macrophylla. What he created was an entirely new category of Hydrangea- ‘The Garland Hydrangea’!
Where can you plant Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’?
The floriferous bush habit of this Hydrangea lends itself well to specimen container planting, and it will look at its best when allowed to tumble over the side of the container. The natural choice would be a vintage style container, but it can also work well in modern slate or jet black containers too.
Plants can be used in patio containers, up-cycled containers, windowboxes, hanging baskets, borders, rockeries, or even trained upwards on trelliswork!
Plants are problem-free, as with standard Hydrangeas, and will grow in sun or partial shade. For best results, make sure your Hydrangea is well-watered, so consider placing a saucer beneath your plant to act as a reservoir. After all, Hydrangea comes from the Greek “hydor”, meaning water, and plants can be thirsty!
Plants produce gorgeous oversized cushioned plants, eventually reaching 1.2m (4ft) up and across. Pruning is simple and will actually encourage fresh, bloom-laden shoots. Trim after flowering to initiate that secondary display!
Where can you buy this plant?
Fresh from it’s win at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ is being launched on QVC on Sunday 10th June in the 9am show. Tune in here to reserve your Plant of the Year.
How to grow Hydrangea ‘runaway bride’:
Flowering time: May to September
Location: Patio pots, hanging baskets, borders
Soil: Well-drained, and reliably moist
Light: Sun or very light shade
Hardy: Survives down to -15C, fully hardy
Care: Prune after initial flowering, which will encourage a secondary flush
Size: 1.2m (4′) high x 1.2m (4′) in spread