TUFF STUFF AH-HA®
Beauty and Resilience All in One
- Huge, waterlily-like florets in shades of baby pink or light blue
- Lacecap blossoms make feeding easy for pollinators
- Early summer flowers + strong rebloom until frost
- Extra-cold hardy stems ensure blooms every year, even in zones 5-6
- Multiple award-winning selection
- Suitable for growing in part sun to sun
- 2-3’ tall x 2-3’ spread
- Hardy in USDA Zones 5-9
Just when you thought you had enough hydrangeas…can you really ever have too many? They just keep getting better! The gorgeous waterlily-like florets of this stunning lacecap variety are a sight to behold as they appear reliably every year. It’s one of our best rebloomers to date thanks to extra-cold hardy stems and a swift propensity to rebloom. Fresh blossoms appear nearly continuously from early summer to frost. Whether you mix just one in with an array of perennials or grow a whole bunch, you’ll be so glad you planted this dependable hydrangea.
how to grow tuff stuff ah-ha® hydrangea
Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha mountain hydrangea is hardy in USDA zones 5-9. In cooler climates, it grows and blooms prolifically in full sun but will also flower in as little as four hours of direct sun. If you live in a warm climate, you will need to provide some shade during the hottest part of the day. No matter where you garden, your hydrangea will benefit from a 2-3″ layer of mulch to keep the roots cool and moist.
In an ideal world, mountain hydrangeas enjoy rich, acidic soils that remain consistently moist. Acidic soils free up the aluminum present in the soil and make the flowers bloom light blue. When the soil is alkaline, the plant is not able to absorb the aluminum as easily, so the flowers bloom light pink. To turn Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha’s flowers blue, scratch a product like Espoma’s Soil Acidifier into the soil around the plant. Be sure to follow the package instructions for amounts and frequency.
Good drainage is important for hydrangeas even though they like the soil to stay consistently moist. If you garden in heavy clay, plant them in a raised bed or plant “high”. Planting high means instead of positioning the shrub even with the ground level like you would other plants, dig a slightly shallower hole and position it so that the base of the plant is a bit higher than the ground. This encourages water to drain away from the plant rather than settling around it. Mulch well after planting.
If you wish, you may fertilize your hydrangeas in early spring once the ground has thawed. We typically use one formulated for roses since hydrangeas enjoy similar nutrients. Doing so will encourage them to start the season off strong. No additional feeding is necessary.
One important thing to know about mountain hydrangeas is that because they are native to the mountains of Japan, they have naturally evolved to develop flower buds and stems that are more tolerant to cold conditions than bigleaf hydrangeas. This helps them bloom more reliably in USDA zones 5 and 6 where stem hardiness could otherwise be an issue with hydrangeas.
Reblooming varieties like Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha produce flowers on both old and new wood. That makes it tough to find a good time to prune them without sacrificing some flowers. We suggest that you avoid pruning reblooming hydrangeas at all except to remove any completely dead branches in the spring once the plant starts to leaf out.
One common misconception about hydrangeas is that you can prune them throughout the season to keep them shorter. Hydrangeas are not like other shrubs, such as boxwood or holly, which can be pruned to maintain a smaller size. If you prune your hydrangea down, it will quickly grow right back to its original size.
Instead, choose a place where your hydrangea can flourish without needing to be pruned to size. If you are working with established plants, it may be necessary to transplant them to a larger space and replace them with a smaller variety that won’t outgrow that spot.
If, for some reason, you do need to cut your Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha hydrangea back, understand that you will be sacrificing some of the flowers when you do so. Do not cut the stems back by greater than 30% as doing so can produce soft, floppy growth.
Which companions you choose to pair with your Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha hydrangea will depend on where you live. In the North where it grows best in full sun to light shade, you can choose sun-loving companions. In the South where it needs afternoon shade, you will want to pair it with more shade-loving plants.
NORTH: Keeping in mind that Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha grows 2-3’ tall and blooms all summer, look for companions that are shorter and taller to create a grouping. Blue Muffin® viburnum grows 5-7’ tall, enjoys similar growing conditions, and produces bright blue fruit in late summer that will complement the blue blossoms of Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha. It would make a perfect backdrop for this hydrangea in your garden bed. In front, consider growing a few shorter perennials like Primo® ‘Wild Rose’ coral bells, ‘Pardon My Pink’ bee balm or Magic Show® ‘White Wands’ speedwell.
SOUTH: Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha hydrangea requires more shade and more frequent watering in warmer climates, so you will want to choose companions that enjoy those same conditions. Scentlandia® sweetspire is similar in size and offers complementary fragrant flowers in early summer. Its fiery red and orange foliage color in late fall will continue to bring interest to the grouping after the hydrangea has past its prime. A skirt of Summer Wave® Large Blue wishbone flowers growing at its feet will provide continuous color from planting time until frost.
top 3 reasons to grow Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha® hydrangea
OH, THOSE FLOWERS THO!
The unique waterlily-like florets of this gorgeous hydrangea are simply like no other.
RELIABLE BLOOMS EVERY YEAR
Extra-cold hardy buds and stems as well as a strong desire to rebloom help this hydrangea flower reliably every summer.
SWEET AND PETITE
It’s easy to find a spot for this 2-3’ rounded hydrangea just about anywhere in the garden, and it fits nicely into containers, too.
Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha® Hydrangea serrata ‘SMNHSDD’ USPP29832 CanPBRAF