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Your Guide to Hydrangea Types: The right one for your garden

Your Guide to Hydrangea Types: The right one for your garden

Your Guide to Hydrangea Types: The right one for your garden
Variety of Hydrangea including Cape Lookout, Martha's Vineyard, and Cape May.

Growing the right plant in the right place is the first step to enjoying a more beautiful garden or landscape. When sited in a spot where it is happy, virtually every plant will be more carefree than in a spot where it does not favor the growing conditions. This is especially true for Hydrangeas. With a wealth of beautiful Hydrangea types and varieties available, we help you select the right one for your garden.

(Above) A colorful lineup of Cape Lookout, Martha's Vineyard, and Cape May Hydrangeas from the exceptional Seaside Serenade® Hydrangea collection.  

You Want a Hydrangea for Sun

Hydrangea paniculata varieties prefer all-day sun in most areas. They enjoy some afternoon shade in intensely hot-summer areas. Most bloom in mid-to-late summer and continue into early autumn. All have white flowers, though the blossoms on many newer varieties pick up pink tones as they age. If left on the plant in winter, the flower heads fade to a parchment color, adding seasonal interest.
Note: Hydrangea paniculata varieties are among the hardiest of all hydrangeas. This makes them excellent choices for gardeners in the Northern regions.

Hydrangea paniculata varieties below 6 feet tall

Bobo®
Hydrangea

A dwarf hydrangea variety that grows only to 3' tall. It features a profusion of creamy-white flowers that often turn a pinkish hue in fall. Up to 3' tall, 4' wide. Zones 3-8.
Image courtesy of Proven Winners

Candy Apple™
Hydrangea

Huge clusters of beautiful, creamy-green flowers that age to a pure white. A smaller version of the popular Limelight Hydrangea. Extra-sturdy stems do not flop. Up to 5' tall and wide. Zones 4-8.

Strawberry Shake™
Hydrangea

A gorgeous panicle hydrangea in a compact form. This summertime showstopper has flower clusters that open white and quickly mature to a soft, rosy pink. Up to 5' tall, 4' wide. Zones 4-8.

Hydrangea paniculata varieties taller than 6 feet

Angel’s Blush®
Hydrangea

A large, vigorous panicle hydrangea that adds color to the landscape when few plants are in bloom. Flower clusters can reach 10" long, and open white, then mature to rose pink. Up to 12' tall and 10' wide. Zones 4-8.

Limelight
Hydrangea

A garden classic, with large flower heads that open chartreuse, mature to white, then take on pink tones as temperatures cool in autumn. Up to 8' tall and wide. Zones 3-9.

Quick Fire®
Hydrangea

Earning its name for its early bloom season, Quick Fire blooms about a month before other hardy hydrangea types. Features loose, open flower heads that start white and go pink in summer. 8' tall and wide. Zones 3-9.

You Want a Hydrangea Type for Shade

Many gardeners consider Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)  the classic type. These hybrids offer globe-shaped flower heads in shades of blue, purple, pink, and white. In most areas, Bigleaf Hydrangeas thrive in part or filtered shade, especially in the hot hours of the day. Reblooming varieties continue to produce beautiful flowers on and off all summer and into autumn on current stems and those from the previous year. Varieties that do not rebloom make their flower buds in late summer and bloom in late spring or early summer of the next year.

Compact Hydrangea Types

The Seaside Serenade® collection is a line of beautiful, reblooming hydrangeas bred to stay small. They are perfect for garden beds and borders, as well as containers. They feature thick stems, leaves, and flowers. This keeps them standing straight even in rainy and windy weather. It prevents them from looking wilted in hot, windy conditions. It also makes them long-lasting cut flowers. 

Seaside Serenade® Hydrangea varieties look as beautiful in the landscape as they do when cut for bouquets. Because the large petal-like bracts are extra-thick, individual flower heads can last three months or more on the plant. Most Seaside Serenade® varieties go through a shift in colors as the flowers age, maturing to an antique, parchment-like shade.

The thickness of the bracts also makes these varieties good for drying. The process is simple: Cut the flowers and hang them upside down in a warm, dry place for several weeks.

Seaside Serenade® Cape Cod Hydrangea

Ideal for adding a burst of color to partly shaded gardens, it reblooms all season with big, globe-shaped flowers. The blossoms range from blue to pink depending on soil pH. 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-9. 

Seaside Serenade® Cape Hatteras Hydrangea

This eye-catching variety shows off big, ruby-red flower clusters that are unique in the fact that they do not shift in color as soil pH changes. It blooms from late spring to early autumn. 3½' tall and 3' wide. Zones 4-9.

Seaside Serenade® Cape Lookout Hydrangea

An elegantly beautiful variety, its globe-shaped flowerheads emerge soft green, open white, then blush pink as they age. In autumn, its foliage picks up festive bronze coloration. 3½' tall and 3' wide. Zones 4-9.

Seaside Serenade® Cape May Hydrangea

Bearing double blue, purple, or pink lacecap flowers (depending on soil pH), it reblooms from spring to autumn. This Hydrangea serrata variety is less likely to suffer stem dieback in cold climates. 3½' tall and 3' wide. Zones 4-9.

Seaside Serenade® Fire Island Hydrangea

An exceptionally beautiful bicolor variety, its white flowers are dramatically edged in a rich, rosy-red color. Its deep-green foliage emerges burgundy in spring and turns maroon in autumn, adding to the show. 3½'tall and 3' wide. Zones 4-9.

Seaside Serenade® Hamptons Hydrangea

This selection shows off large, bright pink flowers edged in darker pink from late spring with rebloom in summer and fall. Come autumn, its lush foliage turns a rich purple-red color. 3½' tall and 3'  wide. Zones 4-9.

Seaside Serenade® Martha's Vineyard Hydrangea

Long-lasting, big clusters of bright pink blooms (even in acidic soils) on sturdy stems make sumptuous cut flowers. Plus it reblooms throughout summer and autumn. 3½' tall and 3' wide. Zones 4-9.

Seaside Serenade® Newport Hydrangea

An outstanding cut flower, its big flower clusters range from blue-violet to deep pink, depending on soil pH. Like other varieties in the collection, it reblooms all summer and into the autumn. 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

Seaside Serenade® Outer Banks Hydrangea

This beauty offers lacecap-style flowers that range from blue to pink, depending on soil pH. An gorgeous repeat bloomer from late spring through autumn. 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

Companion plants for compact hydrangeas like Seaside Serenade® 

Seaside Serenade® Hydrangea varieties pair beautifully with other classic shade-garden plants.

  • Extend the season by pairing them with early-spring-blooming shrubs and perennials such as:
    Bleeding Heart (Dicentra), Camellia, Columbine (Aquilegia), Blue Corydalis, Hellebore (Helleborus), and Lungwort (Pulmonaria).
  • Contrast their mounding form with upright plants such as:
    Astilbe, Foxglove (Digitalis), Snakeroot (Actaea), or Variegated Acanthus (Acanthus ‘Whitewater’).
  • Complement these Hydrangeas with plants that have attractive foliage for spring-to-fall beauty. Some of our favorites include:
    Camouflage® Japanese Aralia (Fatsia), Coral Bells (Heuchera), Hosta, and Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra  ‘All Gold’).
  • Add year-round structure to your shade garden by pairing Seaside Serenade® Hydrangeas with shade-tolerant evergreens such as:
    Hemlock (Tsuga), Liriope, Pieris, Rhododendron, and Sweet Box (Sarcococca).

Hydrangea varieties that grow larger than 4 feet tall

If you have space for larger varieties of Bigleaf Hydrangeas, use them to add drama to the back of the border, in beautiful mass plantings, or as focal points.

Blue Enchantress®
Hydrangea

A rebloomer with blue or pink flowers depending on soil pH. Striking dark-red stems add even more garden interest. Flowers age to a vintage cream-splashed green. 5' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

Pink ‘N Pretty®
Hydrangea

Enjoy the large clusters of violet-pink summertime flowers. Rich green, glossy leaves and a boldly branched, mounded form add to the appeal. 6' tall and 4' wide. Zones 5-9

White Bigleaf
Hydrangea

A statement plant to brighten partly shaded areas, it features beautiful clusters of pure white flowers. A showy specimen and superb shrub. 6' tall and wide. Zones 5-9.

Unique or Rare Hydrangea Varieties

Get a different look than the traditional blue, pink, or white mopheads with one (or more!) of these distinctive and truly unique hydrangea types.

Seaside Serenade® Glacier Bay Hydrangea

Brilliant white lacecap blooms spark against the dark black stems. Reblooms all summer and into fall. This compact variety is perfect for massing in landscape or use in containers. 3' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

Double Delights™ Wedding
Gown Hydrangea

This Bigleaf selection stands out from the crowd. Its pure white blooms are double, giving it a fuller, frillier look than other varieties. It reblooms on and off through the summer. 3' tall and 5' wide. Zones 5-9.

Plum Passion® Improved Hydrangea

Rich purple foliage looks good from spring to fall. In summer, it shows off pinkish-purple lacecap-style blooms. It is a selection of Hydrangea aspera. 6' tall and wide. Zones 7-10.

Hydrangea Types Native to North America

Two common types of hydrangea, Oakleaf (H. quercifolia) and Smooth (H. arborescens) are native to areas of Eastern North America. Both types prefer shaded or partially shaded sites and feature clusters of pure white flowers. Smooth Hydrangea varieties bear round flower clusters. Oakleaf Hydrangea varieties bear cone-shaped clusters.

Ruby Slippers
Oakleaf Hydrangea

Its large bloom clusters open pure white, but then quickly age to deep pink, adding beauty to the shaded garden. Its leaves add fall interest when they transform to lush shades of mahogany and purple. 3½' tall and 5' wide. Zones 5-9.

Seaside Serenade® Bar Harbor Hydrangea

More compact than the Annabelle variety, but with larger flowers. Like other Seaside Serenade® varieties, its stems stay standing straight. It blooms throughout the summer. 4' tall and wide. Zones 3-8.

Snow Queen
Oakleaf Hydrangea

Loved for its extra-large, dense, white flowers that develop a rosy hue in fall. Fabulous fall color continues when the leaves turn reddish-bronze. 5' tall and 6' wide. Zones 5-9.

You Want a Climbing Hydrangea

One species of Hydrangea (H. anomala) breaks the mold. Rather than being a self-supporting shrub, it climbs walls, fences, and other structures. Climbing Hydrangea appreciates a shaded or partly shaded spot and blooms in summer with lacecap-style flowers. While it grows quickly once established, it may take several years to get settled in the landscape, sometimes testing a gardener’s patience.

Climbing Hydrangea

A vigorous and showy vine that can climb to 50' or more, clinging to surfaces with aerial rootlets. Slowly grows with a shrubby habit until established, and then takes off with long, fast-growing stems. Lush foliage is covered with magnificent, white lacecap blooms in summer. Stems can reach 50-80' long. Zones 5-9.

Bonus: Hydrangea-like Plants

Schizophragma varieties are often called Chinese Hydrangea or False Hydrangea. They are closely related to Climbing Hydrangea and sometimes confused with it. These plants bear white lacecap-style flowers. Like Climbing Hydrangea, Schizophragma climb by rooting into the structure on which they grow.

Lacy Hearts™ Chinese Hydrangea Vine

A rare variety, with blue-green leaves, delicately edged in creamy white that contrasts its reddish stems. Climbs to 15'. Zones 6-9.

Moonlight Chinese
Hydrangea Vine

A standout selection, with blue-green leaves that have a silvery sheen and fragrant flowers in summer. Climbs to 15'. Zones 6-9.

Red Rhapsody® False
Hydrangea Vine

New growth emerges in spring with a red blush before maturing to a rich green color. In summer it bears large flower clusters. It climbs to 15'. Zones 6-9.

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