Quick Fire hydrangea is an eye catching shrub with several outstanding features. It blooms about a month earlier than any other cultivars of Hydrangea paniculata, starting in early to mid-summer depending on the local climate, and continuing throughout the summer and into the fall. Initially the flowers are white but as the season progresses, they gradually turn pink and deepen in color to a reddish purple or dark pink fall color. What also distinguishes it from other hydrangeas is its deep orange to rust-colored fall foliage. Hydrangea is toxic to humans and pets.
The plant is vigorous with an upright growth habit. It can be planted in groupings and mass plantings as a screen or a hedge, or as a specimen in perennial borders. The 6-inch panicles sit on sturdy upright stems, which makes them good choices for fresh flower bouquets or dried arrangements. Unlike bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), the flower color of Hydrangea paniculata cannot be changed by altering the soil pH.
Quick Fire is the registered trade name of the cultivar. The asexual propagation of the plant with vegetative material (cuttings) is protected by U.S. Plant Patents.
|Common name||Quick Fire hydrangea|
|Botanical Name||Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bulk’|
|Plant Type||Deciduous shrub|
|Mature Size||6-8 ft. tall, 6-8 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to partial sun|
|Soil Type||Well-drained, moist|
|Soil pH||Neutral (6.6 to 7.3)|
|Bloom Time||Summer to fall|
|Flower Color||White turning pink|
|Hardiness Zones||3-8, USA|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans, toxic to pets|
Quick Fire Hydrangea Care
Quick Fire hydrangea is one of the hardiest and easiest hydrangeas you can grow. Its outstanding tolerance to air pollution makes it a good choice for urban areas.
The shrub blooms on new wood—the woody stems that develop in the current growing season. This has two advantages. Even a severe winter cannot damage the buds because there are none on the plant. It also means that you can wait until the early spring to prune the woody growth without decimating the bloom.
The panicles might get heavy, but since they grow on sturdy stems, they usually only bend without breaking. Deadheading is not necessary, which adds to the low maintenance of the shrub.
The ideal light setting for Quick Fire hydrangea depends on your location. In northern areas, it can be planted in full sun. However, in the south, it is better off in a spot with some early afternoon shade so it’s not exposed to the strongest midday sun.
Quick Fire Hydrangea grows in most soils, as long as they are well-drained. Soil high in organic matter is ideal, not only for the nutrient content but also because it is less prone to drying out. Apply a generous layer of mulch to keep the soil moist, and avoid locations where the soil is exposed to sun and wind. The soil pH does not have any impact on the flower color.
After planting and during the first growing season, water the plant every few days in the absence of sufficient rain. Established shrubs do best in moist but not soggy soil. During extended dry periods, if the plant shows wilting foliage, water it slowly and deeply; it should spring back promptly.
Temperature and Humidity
Quick Fire hydrangea is very hardy and cold winters do not affect the bloom because this cultivar blooms on new wood.
In hot weather, protect the plant against heat stress by keeping the soil moist. High humidity in combination with a lack of air circulation can lead to the spreading of fungal disease.
When planted in soil enriched with organic matter, it is sufficient to fertilize Quick Fire hydrangea once in spring with a high-phosphorus fertilizer (such as 15-30-15) which encourages blooming.
Types of Fire Hydrangea
- 'Little Quick Fire' is a dwarf variety of ‘Quick Fire’. It grows to only 3 to 5 feet tall and to 2 to 4 feet wide, about half the size of the main cultivar. It is a good choice for any landscape where Quick Fire is too tall and wide, or for container growing. It is usually sold in 3-gallon containers.
- 'Quick Fire Fab' shares the early and extended bloom time, easy maintenance, and other features with Quick Fire hydrangea but its flowers are different. While Quick Fire has open, airy, lacecap flowers, Quick Fire Fab has large, dense, football-sized mop-head flowers. They are creamy white at the beginning and, like Quick Fire, matures into a blush pink and then into a brighter and deeper red or pink watermelon color as the bloom continues. What also distinguishes the flowers of the two cultivars is the shape of the florets. The florets of Quick Fire Fab are cruciform, which creates an unusual textural effect that is not found in other hydrangeas.
Quick Fire hydrangea, like the other panicle hydrangeas, blooms on new wood, so it is best to prune it in the early spring. You’ll be able to identify the dead wood, last year’s spent blooms, and the new growth. The thickest buds are located in the lower two-thirds of the plant, so make sure not to cut any growth below that level.
You can prune Quick Fire hydrangea to grow like a tree on a single trunk but its natural growth is as a large, multi-stemmed shrub that is pruned annually.
Common Problems With Fire Hydrangea
Quick Fire hydrangea is relatively unharmed by serious pests and diseases. It is susceptible to bud blight, bacterial wilt, leaf spot, rust, as well as powdery mildew. The latter occurs on the foliage especially in humid conditions and when there is poor air circulation. One way of preventing powdery mildew is to leave sufficient space between plantings. If you’ve had powdery mildew on the plant, make sure to rake up and safely remove all the foliage in the fall to prevent it from reinfecting the plant next year. If the fungal infection is severe, you can treat the plant with a fungicide.
As for insects, Quick Fire hydrangea might attract aphids and spider mites.
When should I plant Quick Fire hydrangea?
The time window for planting Quick Fire hydrangea depends on your location. If you live in a cool climate, you can plant it from spring to fall, provided that you water it regularly in the absence of rain. In warm climates, plant it in early spring or in the fall.
Why is my Quick Fire hydrangea not blooming?
Failure to bloom is usually caused by pruning the shrub too much and/or at the wrong time. It is best to prune Quick Fire hydrangea in the early spring when it is easier to identify the dead wood. If you prune the hydrangea in the late winter and the flower buds are not yet clearly visible, there is a bigger chance of accidentally removing them.
Why don't the flowers of my Quick Fire hydrangea change color?
There could be different reasons why the blooms do not mature and change their color to a deep pink. One possible reason could be that the plant is not getting enough light. If that is the case, you don’t need to necessarily move the plant since you might be able to improve the sun exposure by pruning nearby trees or shrubs. Other reasons could be that the hydrangea suffered drought stress, or that the temperatures during the night were unusually high.
Hydrangea paniculata. NC State University Cooperative Extension.
Quick Fire Panicle Hydrangea. Proven Winners.