Hydrangeas Come in Many Flavors
Choose the one that’s right for your garden

Hydrangeas are to summer as lilacs are to spring. This genus starts flowering in June and won’t stop until frost. With the shortage of good all-summer plants, hydrangeas deserve a spot in everyone’s garden. Whites, pinks, and reds are represented along with the expected blue, and there are plenty of different forms available.

Big leaf hydrangea (the blue one) was introduced to the West in 1739 when Sir Joseph Banks brought it back from China. The climbing form is the other Asian contribution to the genus, and was introduced in the mid-1800’s. The rest of the group are American Natives, and well adapted to U.S. gardens. Let’s review the species.

A Pink HydrangeaHydrangea anomala (subsp) petiolaris
Hydrangea anomala (subsp) petiolaris can climb trees to 80’ in the wild, and will cover anything that will stand still. This white flowered plant blooms in June into July for about 2 weeks, but the vine itself is so showy that it makes a great winter plant . Zone 4 to zone 7.

H. arborescens
H. arborescens is native from New York to Oklahoma. 3’ to 4’ tall and wide, the white blooms appearing in mid-June. ‘Annabelle’ is the top shelf cultivar, for its’ more prolific, larger blooms. Zone 3 to zone 9.

H. macrophylla
H. macrophylla is what most people mean when they say hydrangea. Height and width vary with cultivar and condition but 3’ to 6’ is the norm. The species splits into two groups based on flower habit.

The Hortensias have rounded flowers and the Lacecaps have flat ones; both bloom in July through August. Let’s look at a few.

First, the Hortensias

‘All Summer Beauty’

3’ to 4’. Variably pink to blue. Blooms on new growth.


Large, doubled flowers on a 3’ plant.

‘Forever Pink’

Early; pink flowers appear late June on
a 3’ plant.

‘Glowing Embers’

Starts pink, but sets redder, as will the foliage
6’ x 6’ plant.

‘Lemon Wave’

Wildly variegated foliage, flowers infrequently 4’ x 5’ plant

‘Nikko Blue’

The standard pink to blue flowers on a 6’ x 6’ plant


A cute miniature covers itself with pink flowers 18” x 18” plant

‘Pink Beauty’

Smaller pink flower on a quick growing 5’ x 5’ bush

‘Endless Summer Hydrangea’

New to the industry, this one is being touted as Zone 4 hardy! Blue flower on a 6’x 6’shrub

Now the Lacecaps

All are zones 6 to zone 9

‘Blue Wave’

Improved ‘Mariesii’ prolific blue blooms on a 5’ x 7’ plant

‘Tokyo Delight’

Long blooming blue and white flower on a vigorous 8’ x 8’ shrub


Blue flower are upstaged by white and green foliage on a 4’ x 4’ plant.

All are zone 4 to zone 9

Hydrangea serrata

Hydrangea serrata is a close relative of macrophylla, slightly hardier.

‘Bluebird’ is the best cultivar with pink and blue flowers in late June. 5’ x 5’ habit. Zone 5 to zone 9

Hydrangea paniculata

Hydrangea paniculata is a coarser character than it’s cousins, but the easiest to grow. Generally the off white flowers appear in mid-July on a 15’ to 20’ plant but the cultivars often vary…


10’ to 15’ shrub with the largest flowers.


10’ to 15’ shrub with upright flowers from July through September.

‘Pink Diamond’

Pink flowers on a 6’ x 8’ shrub.


Deeper green foliage and conical flowers on a 9’ x 11’ bush.


A more compact 6’ to 8’ x 6’ to 8’

Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia is another native with heavy, dark green foliage which which gives it its’ common name of oak-leaf hydrangea. The species runs around 7’ x 7’ but there are differences among cultivars. All are white flowered, in late June…


Flowers appear doubled 6’ x 6’ habit

‘Snow Queen’

Prolific bloom in July on a 5’ x 5’ shrub