How to Select the Right Hydrangea for Your Garden

How to Select the Right Hydrangea for Your Garden

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 varieties available, we help you select the right varieties for your garden.

You Want a Hydrangea for Sunny Spots

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 Northern regions.

Hydrangea paniculata varieties below 6 feet tall


Bobo® Hydrangea

Growing 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide, it features a profusion of creamy-white flowers on strong stems. Zones 3-8
Image courtesy of Proven Winners


Candy Apple™ Hydrangea

Candy Apple™ shows off huge clusters of beautiful, creamy-green flowers. Its extra-sturdy stems do not flop after a heavy rain. 5 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-8


Strawberry Shake™ Hydrangea

A summertime beauty, its flower clusters open white and quickly mature to a soft, rosy pink. 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 4-8

Hydrangea paniculata varieties taller than 6 feet


Angel’s Blush® Hydrangea

Featuring flower clusters that can reach 10 inches long, they open white and mature to rose pink. 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 4-8


Limelight Hydrangea

A garden classic, its large flowerheads open chartreuse, mature to white, then take on pink tones as temperatures cool in autumn. 8 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-9


Quickfire® Hydrangea

Earning its name for its early bloom season, it features loose, open flower heads that start white and go pink in summer. 8 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-9


Zinfin Doll® Hydrangea

It offers large, full white flowerheads that blush to soft pink and mature reddish pink. 8 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-8
Image courtesy Proven Winners

You Want a Hydrangea for Shaded Spots

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.

Varieties that stay below 4 feet tall

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 wilty in hot, windy conditions. It also makes them long-lasting cut flowers. Zones 4-9


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 feet tall and wide.


Seaside Serenade® Cape Hatteras Hydrangea

This eye-catching variety shows off big, ruby-red flower clusters that uniquely do not shift in color as soil pH changes. It blooms from late spring to early autumn. 3½ feet tall and 3 feet wide.


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 feet tall and 3 feet wide.


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 feet tall and 3 feet wide.


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 feet tall and 3 feet wide.


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 feet tall and 3 feet wide.


Seaside Serenade® Martha’s Vineyard Hydrangea

Showing off big clusters of bright pink blooms (even in acidic soils), it reblooms throughout summer and autumn. 3½ feet tall and 3 feet wide.


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 feet tall and wide.


Seaside Serenade® Outer Banks Hydrangea

This beauty offers lacecap-style flowers that range from blue to pink, depending on soil pH, from late spring through autumn. 4 feet tall and wide.


Pink Elf® Hydrangea

One of the smallest Bigleaf Hydrangeas, it features long-lasting, rose-pink flowers in summer. Unlike many recent varieties, it does not rebloom in summer. 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Zones 5-9


Pink Splendor™ Hydrangea

Elegantly beautiful, it shows off big pink flower heads that look like puffy clouds over its dark green foliage. It stays pink, even in acidic soil and reblooms through the entire summer. 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-9

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.

Designing with Seaside Serenade® Hydrangeas

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).

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, it adds more garden interest with its striking dark red stems. 5 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-9


Pink ‘N Pretty® Hydrangea

Enjoy its large clusters of violet-pink summertime flowers. Rich green leaves add to the appeal. It does not rebloom. 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 5-9


Red ‘N Pretty® Hydrangea

Add beauty to your garden with this variety’s large, reddish-violet flowers. Easily seen from a distance, it makes for a fantastic focal point. It does not rebloom. 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 5-9


White Bigleaf Hydrangea

A statement plant to brighten partly shaded areas, it features beautiful clusters of pure white flowers. It does not rebloom. 6 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

Novelty Varieties

Get a different look than the traditional blue, pink, or white mopheads with one (or more!) of these distinctive Hydrangea selections.


Chiri-san Sue Mountain Hydrangea

An abundant bloomer, it was discovered in China and features double pink (or blue) lacecap-type flowers. It is a variety of Hydrangea serrata. It reblooms through summer. 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 7-9


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 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 5-9


Plum Passion® Improved Hydrangea

Plum Passion® Improved shows off rich purple foliage that looks good spring to fall. In summer, it shows off pinkish-purple lacecap-style blooms. It is a selection of Hydrangea aspera. 6 feet tall and wide. Zones 7-10

You Want a Hydrangea 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.


Munchkin Oakleaf Hydrangea

A garden showstopper, it features large clusters of white flowers that accent its rugged-looking large textured leaves. In autumn, the foliage turns lovely shades of mahogany and purple. 3 feet tall and 4½ feet wide. Zones 5-9


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 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 5-9
Image courtesy of the U.S. National Arboretum


Seaside Serenade® Bar Harbor Hydrangea

A recent selection of Smooth Hydrangea, it stays shorter than the old Annabelle variety, but with larger flowers. Like other Seaside Serenade® varieties, its stems stay standing straight. It blooms throughout the summer. 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-8


Snow Queen Oakleaf Hydrangea

Loved for its extra-large flowers, Snow Queen also features fabulous fall color when the leaves turn reddish bronze. 5 feet tall and 6 feet 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

This vine can climb to 50 feet or more, doing so by rooting directly into the structure it grows on. Zones 5-9


Miranda Climbing Hydrangea

An eye-catching selection that offers variegated foliage, each leaf emerges edged in lime green. It produces white lacecap flowers that appear in late spring and early summer. In hot summer areas, the variegation may fade by autumn. It climbs to 30 feet. Zones 4-8

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™ Schizophragma

A rare variety, it offers blue-green leaves delicately edged in creamy white that contrast its reddish stems. It climbs to 15 feet. Zones 6-9
Schizophragma elliptifolium ‘MonHart’


Moonlight Schizophragma

A standout selection, it shows off blue-green leaves that have a silvery sheen and fragrant flowers in summer. It climbs 15 feet. Zones 6-9
Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’


Red Rhapsody® Schizophragma

In spring, its new growth emerges with a red blush before maturing to a rich green color. In summer it bears large flower clusters. It climbs to 15 feet. Zones 6-9
Schizophragma elliptifolium ‘MonLaBaHe’

For More Information

Dig into our Hydrangea Care Tips

Learn more about Pruning Hydrangeas

Get tips to Prepare Your Hydrangeas for Winter

See how to Make a Fresh Hydrangea Wreath