Q: I have what I thought was a hydrangea but I don’t get the big flowers that others do. It starts off with a cluster of little buds but then only the outer fringe blossoms turn into real petals. The middle turns the same color, but instead of the whole thing flowering it just has these little petals inside. Can you tell me what I have?
A: You have a lacecap hydrangea, so-called because the flowerhead looks like a flat cap rather than the round mophead you’re familiar with. Hydrangea connoisseurs appreciate lacecap flowers because they’re different from the more common ball-like flowers.
Interestingly, the large petals on the edge of a lacecap are sterile. They serve only to attract pollinators to the tiny true flowers in the center of each flowerhead.
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blue Wave’, Hydrangea serrata ‘Bluebird’ and Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mariesii variegata’ are common lacecap varieties. Wilkerson Mill Gardens sells a large selection of interesting lacecap and mophead hydrangeas.
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