How to Grow Bobo Hydrangea

Bobo hydrangea flowers in bloom.
David Beaulieu

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 in situations where larger hydrangeas might be overwhelming.

Bobo blooms all 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 be able to manipulate the color of your hydrangeas, grow a variety of H. macrophylla, not H. paniculata.

Panicle hydrangeas are generally fast-growing shrubs, putting on 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.

Common Name Bobo hydrangea
Plant Type Deciduous shrub
Mature Size 2–3 feet tall, 3–4 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun to part shade
Soil Type Rich, well-drained soil
Soil pH 5.8–6.2 (acidic)
Bloom Time Early to late summer
Flower Color White, gradually turning red-purple
Hardiness Zones  3–9 (USDA)
Native Area China, Japan

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.

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 H. macrophylla, this plant does not tolerate deep shade.

Soil

Panicle hydrangeas prefer an acidic soil 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. sUnlike 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 susceptible to 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. 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 H. 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 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 season will compromise the flower production for that year.

Common Pests/ Diseases

Bobo hydrangeas can be susceptible to bud blight, bacterial wilt, leaf spot, rust and 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 can be applied to 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.