How to Grow and Care for Bobo Hydrangea

Bobo hydrangea shrub with small white flower panicles clustered together and surrounded by oval leaves

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Bobo hydrangea is the trade name for a dwarf variety of the panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Ilvobo'). While similar to other hydrangeas in every other way, including care needs, it grows only 2 to 3 feet high and slightly wider, making it an excellent foundation shrub or short hedge. It can also be used in mixed shrub borders where larger hydrangeas might be overwhelming.

Bobo blooms from early to late summer with flowers that form large panicles with a pyramidal shape—an identifying feature of all paniculata hydrangeas. The flowers are initially white but gradually turn pink, then deepen into purplish as fall approaches. The oval leaves have serrated edges, typical of other panicle hydrangeas. Bobo is not one of those hydrangeas whose floral color is dependent on soil pH . If you want to manipulate the color of your hydrangeas, grow a variety of Hydrangea macrophylla.

Panicle hydrangeas are generally fast-growing shrubs, expanding as much as 25 inches per year. As a dwarf plant, Bobo is a bit slower-growing, but depending on the size of the nursery plant purchased, it likely will reach its full stature within two years. Standard planting time is spring, after the soil temperatures have warmed.

Like all hydrangeas, the plant is toxic to pets.

Common Name Bobo hydrangea
Botanical name Hydrangea paniculata 'Ilvobo'
Family Hydrangeaceae
Plant Type Deciduous shrub
Mature Size 2–3 ft. tall, 3–4 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Loamy, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones  3–8 (USDA)
Native Area Cultivar, no native range
Toxicity Toxic to dog and cats

Bobo Hydrangea Care

Caring for a Bobo hydrangea is nearly identical to caring for any panicle hydrangea. It will do well if planted in somewhat acidic, rich, well-drained soil. If necessary, alkaline soil should be acidified before planting by blending in plenty of peat moss or some agricultural sulfur. This plant doesn't like extremely hot conditions, so in the southern part of its hardiness range, Bobo will do best in shadier locations.

At the end of the season, rake up and remove any fallen foliage that might harvest fungal spores, as these plants can be susceptible to a variety of fungal diseases.

Bobo hydrangea shrub with white flower panicles on end fo branches with oval leaves

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Bobo hydrangea shrub white flower panicles closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Light

Like other panicle hydrangeas, Bobo does best in a full sun location in most regions, but it is very tolerant of part shade. In warm southern climates, it will need some shade from the afternoon sun. Unlike another popular hydrangea species, Hydrangea macrophylla, this plant does not tolerate deep shade.

Soil

Panicle hydrangeas prefer acidic soil (pH range between 5.8 and 6.2) that is rich and well draining, similar to that in which azaleas thrive. Neutral or alkaline soils can be amended with sulfur or peat moss to lower the pH. Unlike other hydrangea species, you can't change flower color by altering the soil pH.

Water

Bobo will thrive with about 1 inch of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation.

Temperature and Humidity

Panicle hydrangeas adapt well to the climate conditions throughout zones 3 to 8. Bobo is less affected by winter burn than some other varieties. Very humid weather can make it susceptible to leaf spots and other fungal problems, but the problem is rarely serious.

Fertilizer

In rich soil, this plant will not need any feeding. If soil is poor, a light application of fertilizer in spring is a good idea—use a fertilizer formulation designed to promote flowering, such as 15-30-15. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions. Avoid overfeeding with nitrogen, as this can lead to lush leaf growth but few flowers.

Related Varieties

Dwarf varieties of panicle hydrangea are not common, but there are several other cultivars of Hydrangea paniculata to consider:

  • 'Little Lime': This 3- to 5-foot variety has blooms that open as pale green, then develop into a deep pink as fall approaches. It blooms from July into September.
  • 'Little Quick Fire': This is another 3- to 5-foot plant. It blooms from July into September with white flowers that gradually turn pink with red highlights.
  • 'Lavalamp Flare': This is another very compact plant, at 2 to 3 feet. It blooms in July and August with white flowers that turn pinkish-red.

Pruning

Unlike many panicle hydrangeas, Bobo does not require regular pruning, as it has a naturally dense and compact form. If you do want to prune it for shape as a hedge shrub, do so in early spring or late winter before new growth has started. Simply prune the tips of the branches to form the shape desired. This plant blooms on current year wood, so pruning too late in the spring will compromise the flower production for that year.

Propagating Bobo Hydrangea

Bobo is a trademarked variety and its propagation, either by cuttings or from seed, is an infringement of intellectual property rights.

Potting and Repotting

Bobo is small and compact enough to be grown in a container. Transplant it from its plastic nursery pot to a terra-cotta pot, which works better for hydrangeas because it absorbs water and the soil remains cooler. The container should be one or two sizes larger than the current pot and have a wide, flat base, as hydrangeas get top-heavy and topple over easily. Also make sure the pot has large drain holes. Add enough potting mix to fill the pot and gently press it down. Water it well until water runs out of the drain holes.

Like all container plants, potted hydrangea needs more frequent watering than plants in garden soil.

Overwintering

When planted in garden soil, Bobo does not need any winter protection although adding a layer of mulch around the base is always a good way of insulating the roots against the cold.

Potted hydrangeas, on the contrary, namely the roots. need to be protected from winter chills. There is no need to bring the containers indoors but provide additional insulation around the container, either place it in a larger pot or box and fill the space with mulch or sand (or build a silo to winterize the plant). You can also wrap the sides of the container with bubble wrap, or burlap and an additional layer of plastic wrap.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Bobo hydrangeas can be susceptible to bud blight, bacterial wilt, leaf spot, rust and powdery mildew. These are more likely to occur in warm, wet climates, or where air circulation is poor. Water at the base of the plant rather than overhead spraying to reduce the chances for fungal infection. If necessary, a fungicide spray such as copper can be applied to prevent or treat fungal infections.

Aphids and mites can be occasional problems. Blasting the plant with water spray can often dislodge these pests. Or, they can be treated by spraying the plant with horticultural oil or pesticide.

How to Get Bobo Hydrangea to Bloom

To encourage Bobo hydrangea to bloom, use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and not high in nitrogen, which only encourages foliage growth. Also make sure it gets enough the right amount of sunlight, either too much or too little sun can affect the bloom. Don't prune in the spring when you might accidentally remove new buds.

If you've taken all of these steps and your Bobo hydrangea still doesn't bloom, the flower buds might have been killed during a late spring frost. Or, one of the other reasons why a hydrangea doesn't bloom—it is not yet fully established.

FAQ
  • Should Bobo hydrangeas be cut back in the fall?

    You can remove dead wood in the fall but pruning is usually done in the late winter or very early spring. This makes more sense because then you can also remove any branches or twigs that have died over the winter. Because Bobo hydrangea blooms on new, current-year growth, dieback over the winter does not affect the bloom.

  • Do you deadhead Bobo hydrangeas?

    It is not necessary, unless the stems are bending and flopping over and you want to selectively deadhead a few spent flower heads to give the plant a neater appearance.

  • How far apart do you plant Bobo hydrangeas?

    Space them 4 feet apart if you want them to stand out more or less as individual plants. Or, for a dense hedge, space them 36 to 42 inches apart, measured from the center of the plant. Keep in mind though that poor air circulation can promote fungal infections, especially in humid conditions.

Article Sources
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  1. Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants: Hydrangea. ASPCA.