In October 2019, the Chicago Botanic Garden completed a 20-year staggered trial of Hydrangea paniculata cultivars and the program has compiled and released Plant Evaluation Notes, issue #47, with observations and results.
Over the course of the trial, hydrangeas were evaluated for a minimum of six years and regularly assessed for their adaptability to the soil and environmental conditions; disease and pest issues; winter hardiness and survivability; and ornamental qualities.
Of the 45 Hydrangea paniculata cultivars evaluated, eight earned a 5-star (“Excellent”) rating, half of which were Proven Winners ColorChoice cultivars. Those top-performing panicle hydrangeas included: ‘Limelight,’ Little Quick Fire, Little Lime, and Pinky Winky. The remainder of the Proven Winners ColorChoice panicle hydrangeas that were included in the trials, Bobo, Fire Light, and Quick Fire also fared very well with 4-star ratings.
Of the evaluation, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website states, “The goal of the program is to determine, through scientific evaluation, which plants are superior for gardens in the Upper Midwest. Plants are rated on ornamental qualities, cultural adaptability, winter hardiness, and disease and pest resistance. It is the intent of the program to study and recommend plants that are readily available in area nurseries.”
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