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Garlands hydrangea Runaway Bride: how to care for the new variety of hydrangea!

‘Runaway Bride’ is the name of a brand new hydrangea variety. With its striking appearance and numerous snow-white flowers, this hydrangea is very different from its sisters. Unlike all other hydrangeas, the flowers are not just at the end, but all along the branches. This makes for an incredible profusion of blooms. The unique, hanging growth evokes associations with a beautiful wedding gown. The Garland Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ was awarded the prestigious title of Plant of the Year 2018 at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and it’s easy to see why! If you want to admire the gorgeous white blooms in your own garden all summer long, read on to learn more about this new hydrangea variety and how to care for it.

How did this new hydrangea variety come to be?

garland hydrangea fact sheet

‘Runaway Bride’ is the brainchild of Ushio Sakazaki, the veteran Japanese ornamental plant breeder who changed the plant world years ago with the introduction of the ‘SURFINIA’™ petunia. He also selected the very first ‘mini petunias’, the magic bells (Calibrachoa), which were named Petunia ‘Million Bells’ by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Plant of the year 2018 garland hydrangea 'Runaway Bride'

After Ushio Sakazaki revolutionized petunias, he set to work on the popular hydrangeas . He looked around for species with more flowers. He carefully studied their growth habit and branching before selecting an Asian species to cross with the commonly known Hydrangea macrophylla. What he created was an entirely new class of hydrangea – the festoon hydrangea!

Hydrangea Runaway Bride in basket on terrace

Most hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) bear their flowers in imposing inflorescences. What makes the Garland Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ special is that it also blooms from the side shoots of the branches, creating entire garlands of flowers along the graceful shoots, up to 20 flower heads per stem! This new breakthrough variety has the bloom we’ve always dreamed of!


garland hydrangea 'runaway bride®'

Flowering time: all summer, from June to September
Planting time: From February to November
Location: Partial shade, south or west facing / east or north facing.
Soil: moist, but well-drained, without waterlogging
Light: sun or very light shade
Water requirement: medium – high
bee friendly
not evergreen, defoliates in autumn
hardy to -15 °C
height of growth: 1,2 m high x 1,2 m wide

The garland hydrangea changes its colors

Garlands hydrangea pink in pewter flower box vintage look

The festoon hydrangea keeps producing new flowers during the summer months – from June to September – six times more than an ordinary hydrangea. The flowers of ‘Runaway Bride’ are pure white and change to a soft pink as they age or when temperatures are low. It then appears as if the beautiful ‘Bride’ is blushing!

garlands hydrangea fades in autumn yellow leaves

Unlike blue and pink hydrangea flower color is not affected by differences in soil pH. In autumn, the green leaves turn orange-red and then fall off. The plant goes dormant during the winter months. In the spring, the new leaves emerge.

Garland Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ Care.

garland hydrangea bee friendly in cottage garden

This small shrub is very easy to care for. Simply plant it in the right location, water and fertilize regularly, and it will bloom and grow profusely throughout the summer!

This plant feels most comfortable in a moist soil enriched with compost, as long as it is well-drained. A location in partial shade is optimal, preferably with afternoon shade. Hydrangea will grow easily in shade, but will bloom less.

garlands hydrangea runaway bride care

Keep the plant well watered. Hydrangeas are thirsty plants and don’t like it when they dry out. After all, hydrangea comes from the Greek “hydor,” which means water. Water regularly and deeply. Fertilize every 14 days with a hydrangea fertilizer. Place a saucer under your plant to serve as a water reservoir.

Garland hydrangea in tub white pink flowers

The festoon hydrangea grows about 20 inches per year and reaches about 120 inches tall and 120 inches wide. It will reach its full size in 5 to 10 years. Pruning is easy and encourages fresh, flowering shoots. Cut the plant back after flowering to encourage a second bloom!

The festoon hydrangea is hardy in Germany. Frost can cause great damage to young buds and reduce the number of flowers, so it is advisable to protect the plant with fleece.

Where to plant Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’?

Hydrangea Runaway Bride with white flowers and green foliage

Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ is the very first hydrangea to produce flowers from its side shoots, and therefore leaves many design options open! It can even be grown up trellises!

With its slightly pendulous growth, the garland hydrangea is ideal for planting in tubs, hanging baskets and window boxes on balconies and terraces. It works best as a specimen, but can also be combined with other plants.

Garland hydrangea in a pot

garlands hydrangea in pot

If you want to keep the hydrangea in a pot, you should choose a pot with a diameter of about 40 cm and a depth of 30 cm. This is planted with a plant. To prevent the soil from drying out too quickly, do not use terracotta tubs. A vintage-style planter will harmonize wonderfully with the romantic flowers of the hydrangea, but it can also look good in modern tubs in white, anthracite or black.

Garland hydrangea in the balcony box

garlands hydrangea in balcony boxes and in hanging baskets

‘Runaway Bride’ is a shallow grower and will do well in window boxes. What balcony plants together in the window box? You can combine all plants for partial shade for this purpose. The Giant fuchsia ‘Bicentennial’ or the evergreen ribbon flower ‘Masterpiece®’ (Iberis sempervirens) are good companions for the garland hydrangea.

Garland hydrangea in the bed

garlands hydrangea in bed next to hosta in partial shade

Planting in the garden is possible without problems from February to November. For a low hedge plant spacing of about 60-80 cm is recommended. However, you should note that the plants are not evergreen. When designing the bed, take into account the requirements of other plants in terms of light and water needs. It should be ensured that the plants absorb enough water and nutrients and receive sufficient light.

Cut garlands hydrangea

Correct cutting of garlands hydrangea

Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ blooms on previous year’s wood, so be careful when pruning.

During the summer, remove old blooms periodically to stimulate flower formation. In the fall after flowering, new shoots will develop and bear the next year’s flowers. Leave the faded hydrangea flower heads until spring to protect the tender new shoots from frost damage – they look beautiful when covered with frost, and of course they provide shelter for overwintering wildlife.

Garlands hydrangea cutting

The ideal time for major pruning is February through March (before bud break). Cut back faded shoots to a strong pair of buds. Remove damaged, dead as well as misaligned branches. Once the plant is established, remove a quarter to a third of the shoots at the base each year to encourage the production of new shoots that will bear more flowers.

Note: Plant parts are mildly toxic and may cause mild stomach upset if eaten. Contact with leaves may aggravate skin allergies. Gloves and other protective equipment should be worn when handling.

Overwintering garlands hydrangea

Garlands hydrangea in autumn with orange-red foliage

If overwintering in a bed, spread a mulch layer of coarsely chopped straw or collected fall leaves around the base of the plant after pruning the hydrangea.

The garland hydrangea can be wintered outside in a container without any problems. It is hardy down to -15 degrees. You should only pack the tub well, for example, with bubble wrap, coconut matting or jute bags, and do not forget about watering on frost-free days.

Propagate garland hydrangea Runaway Bride

garlands hydrangea in the bed hardy

You can propagate the Garland Hydrangea by softwood cuttings in late spring/early summer or hardwood cuttings in winter.

Garland hydrangea – potential problems:

  • Pests – Aphids, capsid bugs, hydrangea woolly aphid (Pulvinaria hydrangeae), and fatmouth weevils can infest the plant.
  • Diseases – ‘Runaway Bride’ can be affected by leaf spot disease, gray mold, powdery mildew and honey fungus (Armillaria). You can read more about hydrangea diseases here .
  • Yellow leaves – Perhaps it is a sunburn. Place the container in a shady spot. If the hydrangea gets yellow foliage, it may also be a deficiency of important nutrients such as nitrogen or iron.
  • Garland hydrangea does not bloom – It can happen that, despite good care and sufficient sun, they do not bloom the following year. The reasons for this are many. If you purchased the garland hydrangea at a garden center and repotted it, the plant may be busy developing roots and establishing itself in its new location. The lack of bloom may be disappointing for this year, but will result in a healthy plant in the long run. The full glory of the festoon hydrangea should begin to develop in its 2nd year of standing. Make sure that the young shoots along with buds are well protected from frost.

garlands hydrangea location in partial shade