Hydrangeas come with a variety of features
A garden favorite, hydrangeas are known for their cloud-like flowers and are one of the few showy, shade-tolerant plants.
Hydrangeas prefer moist, well-drained soil. They are sensitive to pH and prefer acidic soil with abundant organic matter. If you’re getting ready to plant hydrangeas for the first time or hoping to improve existing plants, a soil test is a great place to start.
There are five main types of hydrangea with different needs and a variety of features to choose from.
Soft hydrangea (wooded)
It is one of the easiest hydrangeas to grow, with large, smooth leaves and large white flowers. The flowers bloom from late spring to summer and the color of the flowers changes from green to white. After the flowers begin to turn brown, they should be removed to encourage a second bloom in late summer. Soft hydrangeas prefer sun or partial shade and moist soil with a high percentage of organic matter. The soft, arching shape of hydrangea reaches an overall height of 3 to 5 feet. In late winter, the shrubs should be cut to 6 inches and fertilized. The most famous and famous variety of soft hydrangea is ‘Annabelle’.
Large-leaved hydrangea (macrophylla)
This hydrangea is named after its large, dark green, waxy leaves. The flowers last four to six weeks and bloom during July and August. A common mistake made with this hydrangea is pruning. Flowers are born on old wood, so pruning should only be done after flowering has finished. There are two basic flower shapes for the largeleaf hydrangea; Lace caps with flying sepals on non-showy inflorescences, the flowers forming large balls of four-petaled sepals. Large-leaf hydrangeas are often a visual indicator of soil pH. In alkaline soil the flowers are pink, while acidic soil produces blue flowers. These shrubs will grow 3-5 feet tall and wide.
PeeGee hydrangea (paniculata)
PeeGee has flowers that are 6-8 inches long and white. Flowers appear in July and August on the current year’s growth. This means that pruning can occur in late winter or even early spring without risking losing the flower. Grandiflora is PeeGee’s most common cultivar and grows 10 to 15 feet tall. PeeGee hydrangeas prefer sun to partial shade and need well-drained soil to thrive.
Oakleaf hydrangea (quercifolia)
Oakleaf hydrangea plants have beautiful leaves with lobes that resemble an oak leaf. The leaves are dark green in spring and summer, turning burgundy in fall. The foliage remains intact in winter and has scaly bark, making it an excellent plant for fall and winter garden care. These hydrangeas have June flowers that last for several weeks and often change from white to pink as they mature. Oakleaf hydrangea prefers partial sun and acidic soil—which is also high in organic matter. Growing 4 to 6 feet tall, these hydrangeas will absorb and make excellent group plantings.
Climbing hydrangea (Anoma subsp. Petiolaris)
This hydrangea grows as a woody vine up to 60 feet long. The woody stems of climbing hydrangeas cling to almost any structure, so place the plants carefully where they are difficult to remove. The leaves of these plants are dark green with the stems having tearing bark. The flowers are fragrant, appear from June to July and turn from green to white as they age. Climbing hydrangea adapts to sun or shade and tolerates most soil types. Vines live for many years and often have few problems once they appear in the landscape.
Ariel Whitley Knoll is the Shawnee County Research and Extension Horticulturist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.