Cherry Explosion Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘McKay’)

Cherry Explosion Hydrangea

  • Unique Cherry Red Flowers
  • Pretty Lacecap Hydrangea
  • Blooms Last and Last
  • Burgundy Fall Color
  • Tidy Plant Makes Great Low Hedges
  • Small Enough to Fit in Any Garden
  • Very Hardy

If you are looking for a compact, easy-care plant that brings a lot of color without extra work or hassle, you’ll love this selection. Charming Cherry Explosion™ Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘McKay’ PP28757) is a tidy lacecap hydrangea with amazing flowers that last and last.

Boost your landscape with a big pop of color and style from this lovely small shrub. Each lacecap bloom features a circlet of cherry red florets – one of the brightest red flower colors available in Hydrangeas – surrounding a profusion of tiny contrasting star-shaped light pink flowers!

The flowers look like hot little firecrackers! This cute plant brings so much pizzazz anywhere you plant it.

This super hardy macrophylla is covered with flowers from top to bottom. And Cherry Explosion was the first of its kind to be introduced here in the United States with its brilliant red color. This has been an absolute “game-changer” gene for Hydrangeas.

If you love Hydrangeas, you’ll love including Cherry Explosion in your collection. It plays well just about anywhere you put it, as long as it receives a bit of shade in the afternoon. Try it on the east side of your house, in containers, or even in a bit of partial shade.

Anywhere you plant it, it will add a tremendous amount of color and interest. From its lush dark green foliage, to the prolific blooms all season long, you’ll love and appreciate this little workhorse of a plant.

One of the reasons there are so many blooms is that the flower buds are held on both last year’s wood, and also develop on new shoots from the roots. This outstanding feature is a hallmark of the variety, and it really means MORE FLOWERS for you to enjoy. (Some people say this variety should have been called “Forever Bloom”!)

Even as the nights get cooler, Cherry Explosion will shine for you. The deep forest green leaves turn a rich burgundy, and the flowers fade to a complementary mauve – a beautiful accent color.

How to Use Cherry Explosion Hydrangea in the Landscape

A little, rounded shrub like this is a perfect candidate for a very modern foundation planting or used as a low hedge. Border your patio with these or line your walkways. You’ll greet your guests in welcoming style!

This shrub won’t get too large for you. Highly adaptable to a wide range of growing zones, in warmer climates zones, the plants get a bit larger, but stay rounded. In colder climates, the overall size is just about knee-high.

Cherry Explosion is a wonderful edging plant to define your perennial bed. Or, consider it an anchor plant and run a curving ribbon of them near the front of the mixed border.

They are the perfect size to run alongside your white picket fence. They can also help you edge your borders. The color just pops when planted in masses and drifts.

Or, try them as “Thrillers” in your seasonal container gardens. If you include a few single specimens in small containers, you’ll be able to move them around as needed for an extra shot of color.

This variety will perform beautifully in your garden during summer, fall and winter. The fantastic brandywine fall color contrasts nicely as a backdrop for the flowers, which fade from bright cherry-red flowers to deep pink, through mauve and finally dry into buff on the plant. Leave the flower heads on for winter interest.

In warmer climates, the flowers remain on the plant all winter long. In the coldest regions, the plant will die back to the ground over winter, but don’t worry – it comes back every year without fail and blooms like a champ on the new wood (unlike old-fashioned Hydrangeas.)

Tips for Care

Cherry Explosion does well in a variety of conditions but likes protection from the hottest afternoon sun. This red-hot Hydrangea loves an east exposure. Morning sun and afternoon shade help them thrive.

They won’t perform well in full sun all day, so take care when selecting a planting site. The hot afternoon sun is just too much for them.

Like most Hydrangeas, the color is highly influenced by the soil. The unusually bright red color can be changed to a beautiful lavender-purple color when grown in more acidic soils for another unique color change.

They prefer a rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Amend with organic matter like compost or leaf mold to improve your soil. Add mulch to cover the top of the root system and help maintain even moisture.

Gardeners in Zone 4 should plant Cherry Explosion in a sheltered location away from the worst of winter winds. You can also add a deeper layer of winter mulch to give even more protection.

Prune them in very early spring just as the plants begin to grow. Just remove the old flower heads and to trim off any dead branch tips in the colder regions, if necessary.

Cherry Explosion Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘McKay’) Details

Common name Cherry Explosion Hydrangea
Botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla 'McKay'
Plant type Deciduous
Hardiness zone 4-9
Growth rate Medium
Height 3 - 4 ft.
Width 3 - 4 ft.
Sunlight Full Sun, Partial Shade
Moisture Medium
Soil condition Well-Drained
Pollinator-friendly Yes
Pruning time Early Spring
Flower color Red