How to grow Hydrangea ‘Skyfall’
Flowering time: June to November
The popularity of Hydrangea knows no bounds. Instagram is chock-full of bunches, bouquets and borders of this wonder plant! There seems to be a Hydrangea for everyone too.. If you’re looking for a climber, patio plant, window box specimen, even houseplant- then Hydrangeas can do the job!
Hydrangea are widely grown across Europe, however there’s one notable difference I’ve seen between UK and mainland Europe gardens. In the British Isles, you’ll often find ancient-looking (and very handsome) Hydrangea macrophylla, the typical mophead. The most exciting part is how these Hydrangea react to the soil type… an alkaline soil will result in candy pink blooms, whilst acid will turn them denim blue!
However, on the continent, another type of Hydrangea has been favoured for a few years, and that is the Hydrangea paniculata types. Drive around any Dutch neighbourhood and you’ll see what I mean, with classic variety ‘Annabelle’ glowing with creamy blooms on robust plants.
It was only a matter of time before the UK would catch on to the merits of Hydrangea paniculata.. they are less thirsty than their colourful brothers, easier to prune (basically, it’s harder to mess up!), and the colour changes with the seasons not the soil..
How was this plant created?
Hydrangea ‘Skyfall’ was created by a small grower in The Netherlands, tucked away in the corner of the country, in Valkenburg. Guido Rouwette was a huge fan of Hydrangea paniculata and grew many types on his nursery. Thanks to this rich gene pool, he was able to have a bit of a play!
He took the ever-popular ‘Limelight’, with green-cream blossoms and an upright habit, and crossed it with ‘Silver Dollar’, a well-shaped specimen with creamy flowers.
The results were fun, and all looked a little different, however one stood out. It had some of the largest flower heads Guido had ever seen. Plus, upon closer inspection, each floret formed a perfect star as the season went on. Glory be, this was one handsome Hydrangea! It took 10 years to get it into production, but it was soooo worth the wait!!
What’s different about this plant?
Some Hydrangea paniculata can be tall and cumbersome, and needing support for the heavy blooms. ‘Skyfall’ is self-supporting, despite those voluptuous candle heads! Plants are 4 feet tall in the border, and about 1 foot shorter in pots. As a cut flower, ‘Skyfall’ really excels, thanks to the unique starry blooms!
Hydrangea ‘Skyfall’ is incredibly versatile, and will grow on most well-drained soils, in sun or dappled shade. The plants offer structure almost year-round, thanks to the autumn blossom shades and decorative seed-heads.
Plants are available in garden centres across Europe, or by mail order from here.
Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe (with Concept Plants doing the same job in North America).
See every Plant of the Month here.
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.