Tips for Gardening with
Eclipse® Bigleaf Hydrangea in Zone 4

Eclipse Bigleaf Hydrangea with cranberry blooms in the garden

Eclipse® Bigleaf Hydrangea, new to the First Editions® collection in 2024, stuns in the garden with its dark purple, almost black leaves. It’s no wonder it’s a garden must-have! And while Eclipse® is rated for Zones 5-9, Zone 4 gardeners are in luck. There are a few things Zone 4 gardeners can do to enjoy this dark-leaf hydrangea in their garden, and we’ve got all the details on why, where, and how to garden with and enjoy Eclipse® in Zone 4.

What Makes Eclipse® Exciting and Different?

Eclipse® Bigleaf Hydrangea is the first true dark-leaf mophead hydrangea with dark leaves that stay dark all season long. But that’s not all! The cranberry or amethyst hydrangea flowers provide a gorgeous contrast to the dark leaves. These dark leaves, which are also disease-resistant, and contrasting blooms make Eclipse® a perfect plant to combine with other plants to make gorgeous garden displays. Whether it’s used in the sun or shade, with bright annuals or dark-hued plants, Eclipse® is a versatile plant that offers stunning garden views.

close up of Eclipse hydrangea with the dark leaves and cranberry flowers

Understanding Plant Zones

While Eclipse® is hardy from Zones 5-9, that doesn’t mean those with Zone 4 gardens are left out of the fun. Before diving into ideas on how Zone 4 gardeners can use Eclipse®, here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Hardiness zones are determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The map was updated in 2023 using a 30-year average of the lowest annual winter temperatures taken from weather stations nationwide. These zones help determine what plants are most likely to survive and thrive in areas across the United States.
  • Before joining the First Editions® collection, Eclipse® went through many years of trialing to determine where it would thrive and reliably rebloom throughout the season. Because of these trials, the team at First Editions® determined that Eclipse® performed the best in Zones 5-9.
  • Just because Eclipse® performed the best in Zones 5-9, doesn’t mean it won’t survive in Zone 4. Those who use Eclipse® in a Zone 4 garden need to follow a different set of gardening tips, may see a little less flower power, but will still enjoy those same dramatic dark leaves.

How to Care for Eclipse® in Zone 4

When using Eclipse® in a Zone 4 garden, follow the same planting and care tips laid out in the Eclipse® care instructions. Where things differ is in the overwintering process. To help Eclipse® come back year after year in Zone 4, we recommend giving the plant some extra winter protection through the cold winter months. When you’re working with a plant in the ground, follow these overwintering tips:

  • Stop applying fertilizer by August.
  • Continue watering the plant until the first hard freeze.
  • Wait until the leaves have either dropped off the plant or turned dry and crinkly on the stem. Once that’s happened, it’s time to apply winter protection. Using leaves, mulch, or pine needles, apply a good layer of protection at the base of the plant. You can either create a mound at the base of the plant, or if your plant is larger and a little more established, stake around the plant, wrap the stakes in burlap or chicken wire, and fill that area with your winter filler.
  • Once you’re past the last freeze in spring, remove the winter protection and get ready to enjoy another year of stunning dark-leaf hydrangea views with Eclipse®!

Eclipse Bigleaf Hydrangea in the garden surrounded by other plants

How to Use Eclipse® in Zone 4

Now that you know how to care for Eclipse® in Zone 4 to enjoy the dark leaves season after season, it’s time to get inspired on how to use it in your landscape! One important thing to remember is that Eclipse® will not reach the same maximum height and width as it will in other areas. When planted in Zone 4, Eclipse® will mature around 2 feet tall and wide. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use Eclipse® in a Zone 4 garden!

  • Use Eclipse® as a focal plant in a decorative pot, mixing in other favorite annuals that will pair nicely with the dark leaves on Eclipse®. If you want some easy dramatic views added to your front patio or porch, plant Eclipse® in a decorative container on its own.
  • Just as other plants like Pennisetum Purple Fountain Grass, Sweet Potato Vine, or Coleus are added to the garden for their interesting foliage, plant Eclipse® in spots that need a pop of foliage interest.
  • Pair Eclipse® with bright annuals in seasonal combinations in the landscape. Just think of all the fun you can have when playing up the dark leaves on Eclipse® throughout the season!

Gardening with Eclipse® Bigleaf Hydrangea

Now that you’re an expert at how to use Eclipse® in Zone 4, it’s time to get designing! If you want to know more about Eclipse®, check out our Eclipse® blog for everything there is to know about this exciting new dark-leaf hydrangea. And, for even more ideas on using Eclipse® in your space, check out our blog on gardening in dark mode, which gives you tips on using dark-leaf plants in the garden. Once you’re ready to get Eclipse® in your space, use our Find a Retailer tool or order Eclipse® online during our shipping season. Want more tips like this from First Editions®? Make sure to follow @FirstEditionsShrubsTrees on social and sign up for our monthly newsletter. We can’t wait to see all the fun you have with Eclipse®!