Pinky Winky® Hydrangea

  • USDA Hardiness Zones 3a – 8b
  • Height 6 – 8 Feet Tall
  • Spread 6 – 8 Feet Wide
  • Partial Sun to Full Sun

The Proven Winners® Pinky Winky® Hydrangea is a best seller. Gardeners everywhere love this plant because of the large pink and white flowers that can get up to 16 inches in length! The panicle shaped flowers start off white, then turn pink later on. As the flowers turn pink, new growth that is white creates a two-toned flower, that is very pretty. This shrub can grow up to 8 feet tall, which is covered in flowers from early summer to late fall! These are great statement pieces in the landscape, and can also make a very beautiful hedge. The dark green foliage also looks great next to the white and pink flowers. This bush is very easy to grow, can adapt to many different soil conditions and is drought tolerant.

Pinky Winky Hydrangea Care

This hydrangea paniculata should be planted in well drained soil, but the plant can adapt to many other conditions. Moderate moisture is required for this bush, however, once it is established, it is drought tolerant. The Pink Winky can be planted in partial sun to full sun locations. Pruning the Pinky Winky Hydrangea is not required. But if you do decide to trim, do so in late winter or early spring. You can even train this shrub to grow into a tree form by simple pruning. Since this shrub blooms on new wood, you do not have to worry about cutting off the flower buds for next year’s flowers. Fertilizing should be done in early spring with a controlled release fertilizer commonly found at most stores. The fertilizer should be designed for woody plants, such as roses or trees.

Pinky Winky Hydrangea Spacing

The Pinky Winky should be planted 6 to 8 feet apart, center on center. If you choose to grow these into a hedge, you can plant 5 to 6 feet apart, center on center. If you prune these as trees, you should still plant 6 to 8 feet apart, as the root systems will still need room to grow. These are also great in garden planters, even as a tree form, as a statement piece!

Hydrangea paniculata ‘DVP PINKY’ Plant Facts

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-8

Flower Color(s): Pink, White

Bloom Period: Summer

Foliage Color(s): Dark Green

Exposure: Part Sun to Sun

Height: 6-8 Feet

Spread: 6-8 Feet

Spacing: 7-9 Feet

Habit: Upright

Blooms On: New Wood

Watering: Average

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Type: Panicle Hydrangea

Scientific Name: Hydrangea paniculata ‘DVP PINKY’ USPP 16,166

Common Name: Pinky Winky® Hydrangea

Brand: Proven Winners®

We love hydrangeas! Who doesn’t? They’re always enchanting, but sometimes they can also be a little mystifying. We get a lot of questions about how and when to prune them. To help you out, here are the basics.

First, pruning depends on the type of hydrangea, and there are three types that we grow here in zone 4.

Smooth hydrangea – (Hydrangea aborecsens)

These produce large, round white blooms and include the ever-popular Annabelle.

This variety blooms only on new wood. Prune back to 1-2 feet above the ground or to the first pair of buds just above the ground in late winter or early spring, either before they break dormancy or just as the buds begin to form. This will encourage new growth and lead to more flowers. It will also produce sturdier stems and a fuller growth habit. If you choose not to prune back, just remove any dead or diseased stems.

Panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata)

Panicle hydrangeas produce cone-shaped flowers and bloom on new wood. This category includes a large variety of hydrangeas.

A few common panicles

  • Limelight
  • Vanilla Strawberry
  • Quick Fire
  • Bobo
  • Strawberry Sundae
  • Pinky Winky

Cut panicle hydrangeas back in spring, before they begin to leaf out. They can be cut back close to the ground, but to encourage taller plants, cut back about 30-50% of the length of each stem. Start on the outside and cut back stem by stem. Prune each stem at a 45-degree angle and try to maintain a rounded shape. Close to rounded is good enough – they’ll be beautiful without being perfectly manicured.

A well-established shrub (one that is a few years old) will benefit from removing the oldest wood down to the ground, about 1/3 each year.

Tree forms are always panicle hydrangeas. If suckers come up from the ground around the trunk, remove them promptly. Cut back branches to 2-3 nodes in early spring. The nodes will become flower shoots later in summer. Do not prune in summer since this will affect flowering, but it’s OK to prune branches damaged by wind or storms.

Here’s Megan with a demonstration on how to prune panicle hydrangeas.

Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

These are the Endless Summer variety that produce big pink or blue rounded blooms. Luckily, they bloom on both old and new wood and never really need much pruning. Just wait until the plant shows leaves and cut back only dead or crazy-looking branches.

In summer, after the first set of blooms finishes, trim back just behind spent flowers and a new set of blooms will show up a little later. We had great success last year by pruning Endless Summers back mid-summer when they started to look leggy and unkempt and were slightly storm damaged. They produced a second bloom on a much nicer-looking plant with a more rounded and contained growth habit.

General info

If you find that you have waited too long to prune and your shrub has already leafed out, don’t worry. Generally, hydrangeas don’t really need to be pruned, other than dead or diseased branches. Doing so just helps maintain a nice shape and encourages blooms, but the shrub will be fine and you can just prune next year instead. Mark your calendars now!

If you prune your hydrangea back at the wrong time you may see fewer of no blooms for a season, but the shrub will recover and produce blooms the next year. First identify which kind of hydrangea you have, then plan for pruning.

A terribly overgrown shrub can be rejuvenated by cutting back all the stems to a foot or two above the ground. This will allow the shrub to produce new growth and will help restore it to it’s initial growth habit and attractive shape.

This post and photos may contain Amazon or other affiliate links. If you purchase something through any link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Any supplies used may be given to me free of charge, however, all projects and opinions are my own.


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This article — originally on how to prune your Pinky Winky hydrangeas the easy way — has been expanded to include complete Pinky Winky hydrangea care.

Think of this as your ultimate guide to successfully grow and enjoy your Pinky Winky hydrangeas!

My steps to pruning Pinky Winky hydrangeas the easy way are still included, further down in this guide.

What is a Pinky Winky Hydrangea?

Pinky Winky is a flowering deciduous (not evergreen) shrub, featuring pink and white flower heads that continue to change color during their lengthy blooming season.

The full name is Hydrangea Paniculata Pinky Winky. It’s also known as a Panicle Hydrangea, which I’ll explain shortly.

This Summer flowering shrub is easy care, and a fabulous shrub for beginner gardeners because of how trouble-free it is.

Pinky Winky is one of the best — and hardiest — hydrangea varieties to survive Winter seasons without difficulty.

If you want a long season of stunning blooms that continue to change color from mid-Summer well into the Fall season — Pinky Winky hydrangea is what you want!

What does Pinky Winky mean?

Any time I’m asked what type of hydrangeas these are, I know that as soon as I say the funny name, there will be a follow-up question about it.

As happens with many plants, the breeder usually gives his or her new plant a unique name with some meaning — perhaps named after a beloved spouse, famous person, or a favorite color.

In the case of Pinky Winky hydrangeas, the breeder from Belgium dedicated this shrub to his son, who at the time loved the Teletubbies cartoon, especially the Tinky Winky character. Thus, Pinky Winky became the quirky name!

The breeder is Johan van Huylenbroeck, and he also developed the Bobo hydrangea, which I mentioned in my Pia Hydrangea article. Bobo is another favorite cartoon character — a blue rabbit on Belgian television!

Pia hydrangea dwarf shrub

What is a Panicle Hydrangea?

A panicle has a main stem, with several smaller stems branching off from it. Each of these stems has many flowers connecting back to each branching stem.

A Pinky Winky flower head is cone-shaped and called a panicle.

Here is a panicle up close:

There are several off-shoots from the main flower stem, each with little flowers making up this one panicle.

The end of each panicle continues to grow longer during the growing season while producing more flowers along its length.

Panicle hydrangeas are considered the most hardy of all the hydrangea species.

Why You Want Pinky Winky In Your Garden

Very reliable bloomer

Unlike some varieties of hydrangeas, Pinky Winky is not fickle about blooming. We’ve had ours bloom after harsh Winters and rainy Springs, and also after a hot, early Summer drought too.

Blooms on new growth, so any die-back won’t matter

This is key, because some hydrangeas only bloom on old wood, or on both old and new wood. Pinky Winky does all of its blooming on new wood, so even if it gets frozen down to the ground, come Spring it will shoot up new growth and all will be well!

Butterflies and bees love this shrub

As we all work to make our gardens more friendly to pollinators, planting a Pinky Winky hydrangea — or two or three — will benefit your other plants and flowers. Plus, I just love the hum of the bees as they ignore me and go about enjoying the hydrangea flowers!

Here’s a brief glimpse of the bees enjoying our hydrangea blooms . . .

Spicy scent

When we first planted our Pinky Winky hydrangeas, I wasn’t aware of the wonderful scent of the flowers, until one of my neighbors mentioned how she enjoys the fragrance on her morning walks. The best way I can describe the scent is spicy with a slight hint of vanilla and honey. It’s not overwhelming. In fact, I find the smell to be calming.

Winter interest

I am a gardener who believes strongly that our gardens can provide four seasons of interest. Pinky Winky hydrangeas add to the serene look of the Winter season if you leave the dried flower heads on the stems. I do this every year.

Is Pinky Winky deer resistant?

Pinky Winky hydrangeas are less interesting to deer versus bigleaf hydrangeas like the Endless Summer variety. While deer will eat just about anything if they’re hungry enough and their normal foods are lacking, it’s good to know Pinky Winky shrubs are lower on their preferred list of hydrangeas.

Pinky Winky Shrub Description

This shrub has a rounded shape, featuring red stems which show up nicely among the bright green leaves.

These strong stems never get floppy or weighed down by the large, cone-shaped (panicle) blossoms.

In fact, last month we had flooding rains here at the Jersey shore, and the shrubs remained upright!

Pinky Winky Shrub Size and Growth Rate

How big does Pinky Winky hydrangea get?

The mature size of a fully grown Pinky Winky hydrangea is approximately 6 to 8 feet tall and wide with a rounded shape.

However, these hydrangeas grow as large as 8 to 10 feet tall and sometimes even taller when they are super happy!

And yes, that’s even if you prune them down each Spring like I do!

How fast does Pinky Winky hydrangea grow?

The Pinky Winky hydrangea growth rate is considered fast-growing, as these shrubs grow up and out by many feet during the growing season. It’s quite impressive!

Pinky Winky Flower Shape, Size and Color

Flower shape:

Pinky Winky’s flowers are cone-shaped, as I mentioned earlier. They are considered a panicle, as each flower stem has several smaller branches containing florets which make up the larger, overall flower.

Technically, each cone-shaped panicle — which we consider a flower — is actually many flowers grouped together, all connected to the main stem of each panicle.

Pinky Winky Florets:

In the image below, notice the arrows pointing to two different types of florets.

There are the small fertile florets which looks like little stars, and there are the larger showy sterile florets.

It’s the showy florets that change color over their long-blooming season from white to pink to a deep rose.

And it’s the small fertile florets that the bees love, after being drawn to the flowers by the larger sterile florets. Fun fact!

Flower size:

The large flowers grow 14 to 16 inches in length, and continue growing all season, even while they are changing colors from white, to pink and white, to fully pink, ending with a pretty deep rose color before they begin to dry.

Flower color:

Pinky Winky is best known for its pink and white two-tone blossoms, but they don’t start out that way.

Pinky Winky flowers are truly amazing because they change colors over a long season of blooming.

Flower buds develop as lime green in color, before opening to cream or white flowers.

The flowers remain white for most of the Summer. For our garden in zone 7, ours begin turning pink in early August.

Are the flowers truly white?

Many gardeners say the flowers are white, while some say cream or ivory.

My best description is the flower color begins as a warm white, which does appear more ivory to me than white. It’s not the true white of an annual white geranium or white petunia, for example.

I think the actual shade of white is in the eye of the beholder. My opinion is a warm white shade.

Bloom time

When does Pinky Winky bloom?

The flower show begins in mid-Summer with beautiful, white cone-shaped blooms.

When do Pinky Winky hydrangeas turn pink?

These blooms begin to turn pink in August — here in zone 7 in southern New Jersey, starting at the base of each flower head.

While the base of the flower head turns pink, the flower head continues to produce new white flowers at the tip. In other words, each flower head continues to grow while changing color!

You have beautiful two-toned blooms covering the shrub!

The flower show extends into the Fall season as the blooms turn pink in August and change into a stunning rose color that is perfect for Autumn.

Planting Pinky Winky Hydrangeas

Best advice: Find a location in your landscape where your Pinky Winky hydrangeas can grow to their full size.

Pinky Winky hydrangeas can grow very large, and most of them do!

When to plant Pinky Winky Hydrangea

Plant Pinky Winky hydrangeas either in the Spring or in the Fall.

Spring planting: after frost

Fall planting: early enough for roots to get established

How to plant Pinky Winky Hydrangeas

As with most flowering shrubs, do not plant Pinky Winky hydrangeas too deep. Dig a planting hole only as deep as the Pinky Winky is currently planted in its container.

Dig the hole a bit wider than the sides . Periodically check your work by simply placing the container into the planting hole to see how high or low the plant is. Adjust accordingly with more or less soil.

Place the plant into the hole and fill in the sides with more soil.

Most garden books and websites will tell you to space your Pinky Winky hydrangeas at least 7 to 10 feet apart.

Our own Pinky Winky hydrangeas are planted just shy of 4 feet apart. And they are doing just fine.

We have two Pinky Winky shrubs planted on each side of our Crepe Myrtle tree. Each set of shrubs slightly overlaps with a few branches every Summer, looking like one gorgeous shrub on each side of the tree instead of two.

Can I transplant Pinky Winky Hydrangeas?

Yes, you can transplant your Pinky Winky hydrangeas. It is best to do so while the plant is in its dormant stage, with no leaves on the stems. This is usually in late Fall or early Spring.

Soil for Pinky Winky Hydrangeas:

Unlike several other hydrangea varieties, Pinky Winky’s flower color is not affected by the pH of the soil. In other words, the flowers will always begin as white and become two-toned with pink, eventually turning to a deeper rose pink.

Best fertilizer for Pinky Winky Hydrangeas:

The best way to feed your hydrangeas is to apply a slow-release fertilizer in early Spring, shortly after you do any pruning. My favorite organic slow-release fertilizer is Holly Tone by Espoma. *Amazon Affiliate link

Some gardeners don’t use any fertilizers on their hydrangeas and still have beautiful shrubs with lots of flowers.

Do not use high nitrogen-based fertilizers, as this can actually hinder flower production on most hydrangea varieties.

Sun Requirements:

Pinky Winky hydrangeas are happiest in either full sun or partial sun.

Watering Pinky Winky Hydrangeas:

Regular watering is required, especially when the shrubs are in their first year. Also make sure to water regularly during the heat of the Summer.

The good news is that once your Pinky Winky shrubs are established, they become more drought tolerant than some of the other varieties of hydrangeas.


Panicle hydrangeas — such as Pinky Winky and Limelight — are more cold-hardy than other Hydrangea varieties, such as the mophead bigleaf hydrangeas.

Pinky Winky hydrangeas are hardy between USDA Zones 3 through 8, sometimes 9.

How do you know for sure if this flowering shrub can be grown in your specific zone?

If your local nursery is selling them in the Spring, then they should be good for your local climate. Always ask a nursery expert if you’re unsure.

Pruning Pinky Winky Hydrangeas

After reading so many how-to’s on the correct way to prune Pinky Winky hydrangeas — and getting discouraged by how involved some of the directions were — I came up with this easy way to prune Pinky Winky hydrangeas — if you need to prune them at all.

It can be super-intimidating when researching that new shrub or plant you purchased. Am I right?

You planted it in the ground last Spring, and now it’s time to kick-start your garden again. Knowing what to prune — and when — can get overwhelming.

Dumb it down, Einstein!

So I’m trying to dumb it down for my own benefit, and hopefully help you too!

Our Pinky Winky hydrangeas were planted a few years ago when we had our front landscaping completely redone. They are from Proven Winners.

The arrows show the Pinky Winky shrubs, just one month after planting. There are two more planted on the other side of this large bed as well.

When to prune Pinky Winky Hydrangeas?

The best time to prune your Pinky Winky hydrangeas is in the early Spring.

Pinky Winky hydrangeas bloom on new wood every year, so if you are cutting off brown twigs that have grown too high for your taste, don’t worry that you’re removing potential blooms.

How to prune Pinky Winky Hydrangeas the easy way!

Here we go — instructions in a nutshell, so you can read this and get outside to prune your own Pinky Winky hydrangeas!

Here’s what our Pinky Winky hydrangeas looked like in early Spring this year.

(I almost want to ask you to pardon my dirty garden gloves. Almost. But I’m keeping it real here, and these are usually what my gloves end up looking like after awhile!)

Note: You can read about my favorite nitrile gardening gloves in my post here. I swear by these gloves!

I like to leave the dried flower heads on our hydrangeas (all types) for Winter interest.

Sometimes they end up being blown away by fierce winds, but mostly they stay on the plants and I like the look.

Step One: Start at the end of a particular branch — and in my case it will be at the very tip of the flowers.

Step Two: Now follow the branch away from the tip until you see the first set of buds forming.

Your eyes won’t have to travel down the branch very far.

Step Three: Take your hand pruners and simply make a cut just above those buds.

That’s all you need to do!

Didn’t I mention possibly no pruning is needed with Pinky Winky Hydrangeas?

Why yes I did.

While you will come across many a garden book, online article or blog post on the internet about the precise way to prune Pinky Winky hydrangeas — such as pruning back certain branches in order to get larger blooms — I simply don’t have time for that.

You don’t either. (And if you do — kudos to you, because I just don’t have that amount of patience!)

If you don’t want to prune your Pinky Winky hydrangeas, you honestly don’t have to.

Many gardeners just prune a stray branch here or there to keep the shrub tidy. Or perhaps they prune any branches that are crossing (and touching), as that could cause the branches to begin rubbing against each other and some kind of bad, evil fungus could set in.

And there are gardeners like me who will prune just like I showed you above.

The point? It’s up to you!

Try whichever way works best for you and then see how your hydrangeas do.

That’s really all we can hope for, right?

We try our best at taking care of our garden plants and shrubs, and over time we learn what works and what doesn’t quite work.

Here’s what one of the Pinky Winky hydrangeas looks like just one month after being pruned.

You can’t even see where I made any of the cuts, so all is well in my world!

Pinky Winky Hydrangea Images

Personally, I think of Pinky Winky hydrangea as a four-season shrub.

First, there’s bright green new growth in the Spring, followed by lime-green buds turning into white blooms. As the Summer continues, you get the pretty two-toned pink and white flower heads, which then continue to transform into a gorgeous rose color for the Fall season. Finally, the dried flowers look so pretty in the Winter landscape, especially in the snow.

New Growth in Spring

Pinky Winky in Summer

Fall Color and Texture

Winter Interest

Happy gardening!

no blooms on Pinky Winky

For Pinky Winky, I don’t think the fertilizer is a problem. Aluminum sulfate isn’t really a fertilizer, what it does is help acidify your soil so that if you have a pink Hydrangea macrophylla, you can make it blue instead. However for H. paniculata cultivars like Pinky Winky, soil pH doesn’t affect bloom color so you don’t need the aluminum sulfate. I don’t know that it’ll hurt anything as long as you’re not using too much (too much aluminum is not good for plants) but it’s not going to do anything for you so I’d save your time and money and not use it. If your fish emulsion is plain old fish emulsion and not something that’s been “juiced up” with other stuff to bring the nitrogen numbers up it should be fine, organic fertilizers don’t have high levels of nitrogen. I’m not sure if it would help, but you might try finding something that has some phosphorous in it, that’s the part of the fertilizer that boosts blooms and fish emulsion is primarily nitrogen. But assuming these are the things you’ve been doing to it every year and it bloomed before, I suspect it’s the slow start it got off to this spring that’s making it not bloom this year.
On the climbing one, I haven’t ever grown those so I know a lot less about them than I do about the shrub ones, hopefully someone else who’s grown them will stop by and have some advice for you. I don’t think the climbing hydrangeas really climb very well on their own though, I think you need to help them. Are there long branches in there that have sort of flopped over? If there are, you can pull those out and attach them to a trellis to get more of a vertical effect.

Hydrangeas are a classic flowering shrub loved by all gardeners. We love to bring them home, plant them and wait with anticipation for them to bloom. When they are in bloom they are a magnificent sight and are often the highlight of your garden. Like with any plant, hydrangeas need TLC, and in the right conditions they will thrive. Sometimes however, you may encounter some common problems with your hydrangea. You look at it and wonder ‘What did I do wrong?’ The good news is, the majority of any issues with a hydrangea can be easily fixed!

Here are some common problems and solutions:

1) My Hydrangea looks dry and droopy, and the leaves are wilting.

  • Hydrangeas thrive in a location that has morning sun and afternoon shade. If your plant is located in full sun it, will require more water to stay lush and vibrant. To keep the roots moist and cool, try applying mulch or compost around the base of the plant. Too much sun can make your hydrangea wilt and/or burn.

2) My Hydrangea has lots of leaves but it did not bloom.

  • It may not bloom because it is not getting enough sun. If your landscape is mostly sunny (and hot), you may wish to grow the PeeGee (paniculata) hydrangeas, which can take all day sun if they get adequate moisture. They actually need at least 5 hours of sun per day to bloom well.
  • Winter die back may be the cause of no blooms depending on the variety you have. For example, some cultivars such as the Hydrangea macrophylla require old wood to produce the bloom in the spring. This creates a problem if we have a really cold winter and the old wood dies back. This is because the plant is producing new growth and this variety will not bloom on new growth. You will have to wait until the following year to reap the benefits of beautiful blooms.
  • Pruning your hydrangea at the wrong time will prevent your plant from blooming depending on the variety you have. The Hydrangea macrophylla should not be pruned hard after the beginning of August. Just prune the dead blooms off at this point. This variety needs the old wood to produce the flowers the next year.
  • A late spring freeze sometimes occurs in our region. If this happens it can ruin or kill the new developing flower buds. Keeping your hydrangea protected in the spring as long as possible can help protect the new flower buds.
  • Lack of proper nutrients could be the culprit. Too much nitrogen will produce lush green leaves but there may be little to no blooms. Phosphorus is what you need to help produce big beautiful flowers. Adding a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus will definitely help in fixing this problem. Bone meal is another great option to help add phosphorus to the soil.
Knowing the species of the hydrangea you have in your garden will help you when it comes time to prune.

Hydrangea macrophylla (commonly known as ‘Mophead’ hydrangea)

  • Prune in summer before August. They start to set their bloom buds for next year beginning in August

Hydrangea arborescens (commonly known as ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea)

  • Prune after spring once blooms have died off. You can prune back to the ground, or 1/3 of the way down.

Hydrangea paniculata (commonly known as ‘Pee Gee’ and ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas)

  • Prune them anytime except in the summer when they start to set their bloom buds. However, it is not necessary to prune them every year. It is suggested that one trim out crossing branches and those that do not contribute to an attractive form whenever necessary.

Are you looking to identify what type of hydrangea you have? This is an excellent website to visit:

Latin Name Pronunciation: hye-dran’jee-uh

Growing H. paniculata

Light/Watering: Most varieties thrive in full sun in the North, but in the South require afternoon shade. Moist soils that do not dry out are best; do not plant in hot, dry, exposed sites. Mulch to conserve moisture and buffer soil temperatures.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Fertilize once in spring with a fertilizer designed to encourage blooms (such as 15-30-15). Soils should be moist but well drained, and rich in organic matter.

Pests/Diseases: None serious. Occasionally powdery mildew will infect the foliage, especially in humid areas with poor air circulation. Treat with an appropriate fungicide if the problem is serious, and be sure to rake up and destroy all fallen foliage in the autumn.

Pruning: Little pruning is needed beyond removing any dead wood whenever seen. If desired, plants can be cut back as needed in early spring. Hydrangea paniculata blooms on new wood.

Tree form Hydrangea paniculata: Prune in early spring, removing lower suckers and up to half the older top growth.

Transplanting: Young plants may be transplanted when dormant in early spring. Prune top growth after transplanting to reduce water loss.

End of Season Care: Rake up and destroy any fallen foliage that was infected by powdery mildew or other fungi.

Calendar of Care

Early Spring: If desired, prune as indicated above. Feed plants with a fertilizer high in phosphorus (such as 15-30-15) to encourage blooms. Complete any transplanting before leaves unfurl.

Mid-Spring: Mulch plants after soil has warmed to conserve moisture and buffer soil temperatures. Watch for powdery mildew and treat as needed.

Summer: As soon as blooms fade, remove old flowering stems.

Fall: Remove and destroy any fallen foliage that was infected by powdery mildew.

For more information on growing Hydrangeas, click here.


Soil Adaptable to most any soil except very wet or excessively alkaline soils.

Pruning In late winter or early spring, cut back by about one-third its total height, just above a set of large buds. This ensures that the growth for the season will come vigorous buds lower on the plant and also serves to remove any remaining dried blooms. Alternatively, cut back in autumn once the plant has gone completely dormant. May be cut back harder if desired, though this tends to produce stems that are unable to achieve maximum stem strength the following season.

Uses Specimen; mixed borders; mass plantings. Makes a good hedge or screen. Excellent for cut flowers, both fresh and dried.

Growing Tips Panicle hydrangeas are the most sun tolerant hydrangeas and are also resistant to wilting. In cooler climates, full sun is recommended for best stem strength and flower set. Flower color is unaffected by soil chemistry. If flowers turn brown and dry instead of aging to pink or red, this indicates that the plant needs more water or that nighttime temperatures are too high for the transition to occur.

Late-summer flower head of hydrangea ‘Pinky Winky.’ George Weigel

Q: I bought a ‘Pinky Winky’ hydrangea last year. Is it possible to prune this hydrangea in order to make it grow tall instead of very wide at the bottom like other hydrangeas? That way it would fit into a smaller garden space.

A: Absolutely, you can prune a ‘Pinky Winky’ to be skinnier.

This is a tree-type hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) that flowers on new wood, which means the time to do your size-control and shaping pruning is end of winter. Late March to early April — just before the plant leafs out — is a good time.

Start by removing branches growing around the outer perimeter. Cut ones emerging from the ground back to the ground, and cut back outward-growing branches back as far as you’d like — including the whole way back to a main branch.

You can even remove all branches except for the centermost one. Clean side shoots off the lower part of that and you’ll have what’s called a “standard” or mini-tree. I prune an older variety of this species (‘PeeGee’) to this shape every year. I now have a single trunk a bit bigger than my thumb that grows into a white umbrella about 6 feet tall. Each spring, I remove new shoots emerging from the ground, then remove any shoots trying to emerge from the lower two-thirds of the trunk, then shorten the branches at the top to about a foot each.

If you don’t want to convert your shrub to a standard but just want to keep it skinny, keep multiple main shoots but trim all side shoots back to the width you want.

You can also shorten the height of the keeper branches by cutting them back. Just try to make all of your cuts back to joints — the points where two branches attach to one another.

In general, the idea is to prune heavily at winter’s end and then let the plant do its thing. The new shoots that grow in spring and early summer is what’s going to produce that big, beautiful flower cones from mid-summer into early fall.

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Pinky Winky hydrangea is a flowering deciduous shrub that produces pink and white flower heads. You will notice it throughout the course of their blooming season, which is quite long, the flower has continued to change colours. The full name is called the hydrangea paniculata Pinky Winky which is also referred to as a panicle hydrangea.

This is a summer-flowering shrub that is easy to take care of and a fabulous starter for those who are new to gardening. Is one of the best hydrangea varieties for winter seasons because it is the hardiest. If you are looking for a long season full of stunning flowers whose colour continues to change well into fall, this is the shrub you want.

The name Pinky Winky was given to the plant by the breeder. This breeder came from Belgium and dedicated the shrub to his son who’s a big fan of the cartoon Teletubbies and from that, the name Pinky Winky was born.

A panicle hydrangea

As mentioned the Pinky Winky hydrangea is a panicle hydrangea. Panicle hydrangeas are called such because they have a main stem with many small stems that branch away from the main stem. And each of those stems contains flowers that connect back to the branching stem. So the Pinky Winky has a cone-shaped flower head which is referred to as a panicle. The end of the panicles continue to grow longer and longer throughout the growing season and at the same time, they produce more and more flowers along that additional length. Panicle hydrangeas on mass are considered to be the hardiest of the hydrangea species which is again, why it is recommended that this particular variety be selected by those who are new to gardening.

Features of the Pinky Winky

Reliable blooms

Unlike other varieties, the Pinky Winky plant is far from finicky about it’s blooming. It will undergo rainy spring Seasons, harsh Winters, even hot summer drought and still produce beautiful flowers.

Blooms for new growth

With this particular plant, the hydrangea blooms are grown on new growth. This stands in contrast to many of the hydrangeas which produce buds on old growth. Why does this matter? Even if you cut the plant all the way down to the ground it will shoot up new growth and still produce those flowers on the new growth. This is something you have to be very careful of with other varieties but not with this one.

Bring on the butterflies and the bees

This is a great option in your garden if you want to attract butterflies and bees. These garden friends love hydrangeas. More importantly, it’s very resistant to deer. Unlike the other varieties, Pinky Winky shrubs are very low on the list of foods that deer go after first which may be useful for some gardeners who have problems with these beautiful aminals eating their plants.

Beautiful smell

Most people think of the large blooms associated with hydrangeas but they don’t necessarily consider the scent that is given off. With hydrangeas especially the Pinky Winky you get a rich, spicy scent that has undertones of honey and vanilla. It’s a very calming scent far from overwhelming.

The Pinky Winky shrub

The Pinky Winky shrub offers round shapes with red stems. The red stems are beautiful especially when they are juxtaposed by the bright green leaves. The stems are quite strong so no matter how large the panicle blossoms get, it won’t get weighed down and flop over. They will remain upright at all times.

Growth rates

A mature Pinky Winky when it reaches its largest point will be approximately 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. The shape will still be around. However, if they are incredibly happy they might get slightly larger and of course, you can always prune them regularly. This is a fast-growing shrub and it can grow out multiple feet in just one season.


The flowers you get are shaped like a cone, as mentioned. These are referred to as panicles. And each panicle has that main flower stem and several smaller branches that go out from the stem containing florets. All of the floor it’s combined create that overall flower.

If you look closely at the florets you will see that they are small, fertile florets that take on the appearance of stars and then there are larger sterile ones that go around the star-shaped floor it’s in the middle. Those showy florets are the ones that change colours throughout the season and transition from white to pink all the way to a deep red colour. It’s the small fertile ones at the bees love most.

These flowers will grow approximately 14 to 16 inches in length. They will grow all season long, as mentioned, transitioning in colour from white to pink to red. Pinky Winky is perhaps best known because of the two-tone blossoms that changed throughout the season. When the flower buds first arrived they are lime green and as they open the flowers are cream or white. They remain that way for most of the summer and then start to turn pink around August at which point as they die they take on that deep red colour.

Bloom Time

You will start to see flowers with your Pinky Winky around the middle of summer at which point the white, cone-shaped flowers appear. In most places, they will start to turn pink around August and as the base turns pink the flower head will continue to grow outward as mentioned and with that, it will continue to produce new flowers that are white at the tips. This means that throughout the end of Summer and the beginning of fall your panicles will take on two different colours at minimum, the pinks around the lower end closest to the stems and the shrub and white along with the tips indicative of the new growth. This will continue throughout the remainder of the blooming season and eventually, you will get a two-toned combination of pink and a stunning rose red.

Best planting times

If you’re going to plant your Pinky Winky hydrangea make sure you find a location in your garden where the plant will be able to reach its full size. They can grow very large, and they will if you let them. It is best to plant them either in the spring or in the fall. If you plant in the spring do it after frost. If you plant in the fall do it early enough that your roots have time to get established before the cold winter sets in.

How to plant

As with almost all flowering shrubs, you should never plant it too deep in the ground. If you have purchased a Pinky Winky and it comes in a container, you will be able to see the size of the root ball and the container in which the plant is currently. That is your base for how deep you should dig your hole. The hole should only be as deep as the container in which the plant currently has. It should be slightly wider than the sides of the container. You can periodically check the size of the hole by placing the container inside just to verify.

When you are ready, adjust your soil to make sure that it’s rich in compost and nutrients and then put the plant in the hole and fill in all the sides with additional soil.

If you’re going to plant more than one make sure they are at least four feet apart.

If you decide to transplant your Pinky Winky hydrangea and move it somewhere else, you can absolutely do this but make sure you do it at the end of fall or the beginning of Spring. It is always recommended that you transplant when the plant is dormant, effectively when there are no leaves on the stems.

Soil requirements

The other hydrangea varieties Pinky Winky will not be affected by the soil pH levels so it doesn’t matter what soil pH you have. You don’t have to test it, you don’t have to change it. You will get the same white colour flowers that transition to Pink and then red no matter the soil.

However, you can always help it out a little by adding some fertilizer. It’s best to apply a slow-release fertilizer and to do so early on in the spring right after you do any pruning. You don’t have to apply fertilizer. Your Pinky Winky, as a very hardy plant, will do just fine without it but if you want to encourage more flowers you can add something. Avoid any High nitrogen-based fertilizers as these will inhibit flower production.

Growing requirements

In terms of sunlight Pinky Winky’s are very flexible and are happiest if they get partial sun or full sun. With watering, you want to make sure that you water regularly especially when it’s hotter outside. Once your plant gets established it will be much more tolerant of droughts compared to other hydrangeas but the soil should nonetheless remain moist at all times.


If you said about pruning your hydrangea it’s best to do in the early spring. As mentioned to be blooms will produce on new wood every year so if you’re cutting off those brown Twigs that are too high or too wide for your taste, you don’t have to worry about reducing the flowers you get this season.

When you are ready, start at the end of whichever branch you want to cut off. Follow the branch away from the tip until you have landed on the first set of buds. Cut right above those buds. That’s literally all you have to do. Pruning is not necessary but in some cases, you might want to do it for various reasons and if so those are the only steps you have to follow.

Hydrangea Pinky Winky is a colorful cold-hardy paniculata Hydrangea with eye-catching 16″ flower heads of pink and white. Stunning as a long blooming Hedge Plant for for sun-part shade

Tidy mounds have strong stems that support the blooms above the foliage to keep them from drooping.

A deciduous shrub, flowers emerge in summer a pristine white and quickly change to a deep pink. New flowers are continuously borne at the top of the cluster, thus giving a two-toned effect of pink & white.

Hydrangea flowers have many sizes and colors, but Pinky Winky puts on a tremendous show and compliments any garden design with its long bloom season from summer-frost. Excellent cut flower either fresh or dried!

Paniculata Hydrangeas bloom reliably regardless of cold temperatures, soil pH, or pruning.

Combine with spring blooming Hellebores, colorful Heucheras or Hostas!

Special features: Cut flower, Dried flower, Easy care, Fast growing, Heat tolerant, Long blooming, Moisture tolerant, Multi-seasonal interest

Hydrangeas are continuing to take the flowering shrub world by storm. They are widely adaptable to both clay and sandy soil provided they are given copius amounts of water during the prolonged summer dry spells. Almost all hydrangeas thrive under morning sun with protection from the intense afternoon sun.

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