It has been a while since I wrote about a plant, the last one was the North Star Sour Cherry. That was a plant I had at my previous house and was quite familiar with. It is also a pretty old cultivar, certainly not the latest and greatest. Today, I want to talk to you about a new cultivar of an old friend, the Haas Halo hydrangea.
Most people know the Illinois native Smooth Hydrangea because of the softball sized mophead white flowers of it’s most widely planted cultivar, the Annabelle Hyrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’).
While these are attractive plants from a landscaping sense, the flowers are sterile and not much use for pollinators like butterflies or bees.
You see those white mophead flowers are all made up of sterile flower parts. I have wondered, why can’t we find the good old species of Smooth Hydrangea. You know the one with the sterile AND less gaudy fertile flowers that contain pollen. Then of course, I remember that the flower is pretty unspectacular compared to Annabelle.
Those plants don’t look nearly as ornamental as an Annabelle, but they do fit into natural landscape design as a supporting player and have more ecological benefit to wildlife. That is they would if you could find a nursery that sold them.
Why couldn’t we have an improved Smooth Hydrangea WITH fertile flower parts that support pollinators?
It turns out, now we can!
Haas Halo Hydrangea
(Hydrangea Arborescens ‘HAAS’ HALO’ PP24783)
Introducing Haas Halo Hydrangea, finally an attractive hydrangea that no longer just looks pretty but pull’s it’s own ecological weight. This is THE shrub I am most excited to get out and start using next year!
Here is the reason
Here is a close up of an Annabelle Hydrangea flower.
By contrast, here is a close up of a Haas Halo Hydrangea flower:
So besides looks, what’s the difference?
Those fertile flowers offer nectar and pollen to a wide range of visiting pollinators. These visitors include bumblebees, little carpenter bees, Halictid bees, masked bees, among others native bees that need all the help we can give them.
The foliage of Wild Hydrangea is also nibbled on a bit by the caterpillar of the Hydrangea Sphinx moth which turn into this kind of pretty moth (and tasty piece of bird food).
Besides it’s vastly superior ecological benefits, Haas Halo Hydrangea also have the advantage of being drought tolerant, which for a Smooth Hydrangea is a great benefit as they can be a bit thirsty.
Haas Halo Hydrangea Growing Conditions
- Hardiness Zones: 3-9
- Bloom Time: June to October
- Size: 3 -5’ tall by 3 – 5’ wide
- Sun Requirements: Full sun to partial shade.
- Soil Moisture: Moist to dry.
- Diseases: None known.
Haas Halo hydrangea contributes to ecological landscape plantings, but can also be used in foundation plantings, cutting gardens, mixed borders, and of course, native plant gardens.
Of course, you won’t find many landscapers using this plant. Most are not concerned about building ecological plantings that support biodiversity AND look great. Well at least 95% of them.
They are more concerned with using the old tried and true proven plants that they know they won’t have to replace. That’s why you still see Bradford Pears, Burning bush, and Daylily still planted everywhere.
Stay tuned to my next post, where I will share a design for an ecological landscape that uses this plant (and a lot of other ones).