When Do Hydrangeas Bloom?
Botanical Names: Hydrangea macrophylla (mophead or French hydrangeas), Hydrangea paniculata (panicle hydrangea), Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea), climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris), smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
When are hydrangeas in season? With these versatile shrubs, hydrangea season extends far beyond the actual bloom time because faded blooms add fall and even winter interest. Some hydrangea shrubs, like oakleaf hydrangea, also stage a strong fall foliage show. But if your basic question is when do hydrangeas bloom, you’ll discover the answer isn’t quite so simple.
In general, different types of hydrangeas flower at different times of the year. For instance, Hydrangea macrophylla, the mophead or French hydrangea, flowers from late spring to midsummer in the South. The exceptions are the newer reblooming hydrangeas, which can pump out blooms the whole season in good growing conditions. Repeat-blooming hydrangeas extend the traditional hydrangea season by months.
Hydrangea paniculata, better known as panicle hydrangea, typically offers a flowering season from late spring to early summer, but plants retain the blossoms until they shatter, which can occur as late as winter. Shade-loving climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) usually flowers from late spring to midsummer.
In different parts of the country, the same types of hydrangea flower at different times due to climate. A French hydrangea blooms sooner in a warmer, Southern or coastal garden than it does in a cooler New England yard. Popular hydrangea quercifolia, oakleaf hydrangea, flowers in early summer in Southern gardens, while in a Midwestern landscape, it may blossom from midsummer to early fall.
Another factor that influences when hydrangeas bloom is pruning. If you prune certain types in early spring, you can effectively delay the flowering season. With the Southern native smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), unpruned shrubs usually flower at the same time as French or mophead hydrangeas. When you prune smooth hydrangea in late winter or early spring, if you cut plants back hard (which increases flower size while reducing flower number), the hydrangea season will occur later than it does for lightly pruned plants.
As you select a hydrangea for your garden, do a little homework to learn when hydrangea seasonis for your neck of the woods. Check with local garden centers, public gardens or the extension office to learn the timing for different types of hydrangeas.
Also consider how you’re using the hydrangeas in your landscape as you research which hydrangea you want to plant. For potted hydrangeas, you’ll want a long and lush hydrangea season, so you should likely choose a repeat-blooming type. If you’re planting a hedge and want flowers to complement nearby flowering crabapples or lilacs, lean toward a late spring-early summer hydrangea season, the kind you get with a ‘PeeGee’ hydrangea or a lacecap hydrangea.
Go ahead and ask the question, “When do hydrangeas bloom?” With all of the new introductions, you’ll likely discover you can craft a hydrangea season that’s just right for you.