Hydrangea Shrubs

Learn about different kinds of hydrangea shrubs and tips for using these pretty bloomers in the landscape.


Photo by: Bertrand Landscape Design

Bertrand Landscape Design

By: Julie A Martens

Botanical Names: big leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), smooth hydrangea (Hydrangeaarborescens), oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), panicle hydrangea (Hydrangeapaniculata)

Give your yard a touch of old-fashioned charm with the extravagant flowers of hydrangea shrubs. This group of plants is a cherished favorite among many gardeners, and it’s easy to see why. On the whole, hydrangea shrubs bring versatility to the landscape, able to fill many roles. Flowers come in a range of colors, and you can even change flower color in some hydrangea shrubs by manipulating soil pH and nutrients.

Hydrangea shrubs bring a long season of color to the landscape. When hydrangeas bloom depends in part on the type of hydrangea. The popular big leaf hydrangea shrub, Hydrangeamacrophylla, flowers over a large window, starting from spring to midsummer and continuing for several weeks, depending on variety. Some Hydrangea macrophylla varieties are everblooming and flower repeatedly from spring until fall — provided they’re in ideal conditions.

Smooth hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens, is a Southern native. ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea is one of the popular smooth hydrangea types. They tend to flower in concert with Hydrangea macrophyllas, starting in spring to midsummer and continuing from there. Oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, flowers starting in spring and continuing into early summer. Panicle hydrangea shrubs, Hydrangea paniculata, flower from summer into early fall.

With all hydrangea shrubs, flower heads tend to linger well past the actual bloom time, giving the illusion of a luxuriously long flowering window. It’s not uncommon for flower heads to last well into winter, even in regions with heavy snowfall. The flower heads shift color as they age, bringing yet another hue to their stunning landscape performance.

Many hydrangea shrubs grow rather quickly when they are tucked into ideal conditions, rewarding gardeners with a beautiful show sooner than many other shrubs. Hydrangea shrubs tend to have a large presence in the landscape and need sufficient elbow room to look their best.They make a lovely accent to highlight architectural features, like a gazebo, stacked stone wall ora flight of stairs.

These lovely flowering shrubs hold their own easily tucked along the edge of tall trees. In the South, a classic landscape combination is big leaf hydrangeas beneath longleaf pines. You can also count on hydrangea shrubs to act as a hedge. In general, hydrangea shrubs also usually have a long lifespan, gracing the landscape with a strong presence for many years.

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