Which Hydrangea Grows Best In Shade

The best hydrangea to grow in shade are oakleaf varieties. Because of its striking oak-shaped leaves, they get their name. Oakleaf hydrangeas have fluffy spring buds, huge summer blooms, brilliant fall leaves, and peeling winter bark, making them suitable for all four seasons. Even though they can have fewer blooms and less striking fall color, they nonetheless thrive in shaded settings.

Can climbing hydrangeas survive in total darkness?

It first slumbers, then creeps, and then springs. This adage applies perfectly to the climbing hydrangea. Gardeners should take note since this superb vine, which may bring a great deal of beauty and lushness to your home, has a tendency to become a compulsion in the landscape. When established (which takes two to three years), a single vine covers a fairly vast area, therefore it should be utilized cautiously and sparingly. My first encounter with climbing hydrangeas was at Cold Spring, New York’s magnificent Stonecrop, which is now a public garden. Many of the enormous trees had large, verdant vines climbing up them; their trunks were entirely covered in green leaves and white blooms, giving the trees the appearance of being a new species. I questioned Frank about them and whether or not it was proper to grow such enormous species on and up trees. He assured me that as long as the vines didn’t stifle the higher, more delicate branches, they were appropriate and did not hinder the growth or health of large trees.

In order to cover the trunks of the huge sugar maple and spruce trees that were positioned close to the houses, I grew my first climbing hydrangeas on my farm. The trunks were completely hidden after a few of years, and they now resemble how I see the woodland in William Henry Hudson’s “Green Mansions” novel. Five years ago, during cleanup, I had the thought that these “stumps” would make excellent climbing posts after a cyclone stripped the tops off six giant spruces by the entrance to my property. One vine was positioned at the base of each. The stumps are now six to seven feet broad and 20 feet high thanks to the vines’ lush growth. All year round, they merely have a shrubby appearance.

Early summer is when the vines bloom and look their best. By October, the leaves are a vivid golden, adding even another gorgeous touch to the scenery. When the leaf has fallen, they also offer fantastic winter color. The deep brownish-red exfoliating bark has a beautiful ethereal quality when the dried blooms are present on the vines.

In addition to flourishing in full sun, medium shade, and even deep shade, climbing hydrangeas adore rich soil. You can plant them on substantial structures like stone or brick walls, chimneys, and homes because they are resilient growers with strong aerial rootlets that cling to all surfaces; stay away from wooden shingles and clapboard, which can be harmed by these rootlets or “holdfasts.” To prevent the vines from growing on windowsills, doorframes, and even as a ground cover in the garden, be prepared to cut them annually. Their will to advance knows no bounds.

Are Endless Summer hydrangeas shade-tolerant?

Continual Summer Depending on the region where you live, hydrangeas can bloom on both old and new growth from spring through summer or early summer to fall. They actually prefer partial shade to full sun.

Sun and shade

Continual Summer Half-shade, or around four hours of unobstructed direct sunshine every day, is ideal for hydrangea growth. The optimal scenario for them is early sun and afternoon shade.


Continual Summer Although they may grow in a variety of soils, hydrangeas require moisture to thrive. The most important thing to keep in mind regarding soil is that its hue can range from blue to purple to pink depending on how acidic or alkaline it is. Make sure your soil is acidic for a bluer hue. If it needs to be pinker, adjust it to be more alkaline.


Use a fertilizer that has been carefully developed to fertilize your Endless Summer Hydrangea once in the spring or summer. Although a fast-release balanced fertilizer with an NPK value of 10-10-10 will also work, slow-release fertilizer is recommended.


Endless Summer hydrangeas can bloom on both old and new growth, so you don’t need to prune them. However, you should remove any dead, sick, or infected branches as soon as you see them.

Are there hydrangeas that prefer shade?

With the ideal balance of morning sun and afternoon shade, hydrangeas flourish. Even the sun-loving Hydrangea paniculata will thrive in some shade. Some hydrangea cultivars may survive complete shadow, though.

The oakleaf hydrangea, also known as hydrangea quercifolia, is a substantial species of hydrangea that may reach heights of up to eight feet. In a shade garden, this big bush makes a beautiful backdrop. The height will provide excellent midsummer seclusion. Oakleaf hydrangeas are summer bloomers with mostly white blooms, elegant oakleaf-shaped leaves, and lovely peeling bark.

Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris is another choice for full shade. This climbing species, which has lacy, white blossoms in the summer, can reach a height of 50 feet if it is given adequate support. The foliage is a rich shade of green and would look wonderful growing up a tree trunk or covering the face of a building. It would also look lovely covering the roof of a garden shed.

Full shade cultivars require the same upkeep as partial shade. In the deeper shade, it will be especially crucial to keep the plants free of leaf litter and with excellent airflow. Water your plant once a week after it has become established. Keep a watch on the leaves, and if you notice any drooping, especially during the hot summer months, water them right away. The importance of this increases in hotter regions.

These leaves’ unique shape would be a lovely complement to Hosta leaves. The white blossoms would contrast nicely with the lighter hues of your shady blooms and provide some brilliant brightness to your shaded locations.

Shade Varieties

There are a few different hydrangea cultivars that thrive in the shade. Some types can even thrive in zones 3 (which doesn’t warm up until later in the spring), which is one of the coldest growing regions. Let’s examine some of the best shade selections!

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow queen’

The movie “Snow queen” is stunning. The flowers are stunning, as they are with all hydrangeas. These rose blush-colored blossoms appear in the middle of summer. The foliage of this plant is my favorite component. The leaves begin the season in a very deep green, gradually changing to a deep reddish bronze color, and finally finishing in that shade, offering a stunning splash of color to your fall landscape.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Alice’

With a height ranging between 12 and 15 feet, this Oakleaf Hydrangea is one among the biggest. In the summer, this plant blooms with incredibly deep cream-colored flowers. A woodland garden would be a truly lovely place for “Alice.” This cultivar would look especially beautiful if it were grown as a bordering hedge.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

‘Annabelle’ enjoys partial shade and has some of the largest flowers in the hydrangea family (12 inches wide!). These enormous blossoms can be supported all season long by the sturdy stalks. This shrub can grow up to five feet tall and five feet broad, so give it plenty of area to expand. These enormous, all-white blossoms bloom for a long time.

In a mass planting, as a specimen shrub, or as a foundation planting, “Annabelle” would look lovely. These bushes should still be included in your cutting garden. Imagine a bunch of flowers that large! Wow!

What hydrangeas require the least exposure to the sun?

Three hydrangeas, Annabelle, Invincibelle, and Incrediball, thrive in locations that are primarily shaded. For the finest blossoming, all three of plants require a lot of moisture and shade from the afternoon sun. These hydrangeas have the typical dense bloom clusters, however Annabelle’s bloom clusters are smaller than those of Invincibelle and Incrediball.

White flowers are on Incrediball, Annabelle, and Invicibelle, while light pink flowers are on Incrediball. With variations in soil pH, these hydrangeas won’t change color.

If these hydrangeas begin to droop, they should be watered. Hydrangea roots will be shielded from winter mortality by a thick layer of mulch spread around the plant’s base. These three hydrangeas can all be heavily clipped in the spring because they all bloom on fresh wood.

Look for large leaf varieties of hydrangeas like Endless Summer if you want ones that change color. They will bloom pink in alkaline, or “sweet soil, and blue in acidic soil. You can get kits to alter the pH of the soil to alter the color of the blooms.

Large leaf hydrangeas flower on both fresh and old wood (growth from both previous year and this year), therefore they bloom best when they are not clipped. Dieback is typically brought on the winter, so you may simply remove dead wood in the spring.

Is Annabelle hydrangea shade-tolerant?

Mounding shrub Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ has a spread of more than 35 inches. It produces enormous (812) circular heads of pure white blooms in July, which can be trimmed for fresh or dried arrangements. The blooms last until September.

It works well in the mixed border due to its tiny size and summer blossoming. The ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea thrives best in soil that is evenly moist but also well-drained; nevertheless, if moisture is sufficient, she will also grow in full sun. The majority of gardeners clip the branches to the ground in late January because she flowers mostly on growth from the current season (“new wood”). From the root, fresh shoots protrude and bloom that summer. Not a wise choice for gardeners in the Southwest’s arid climate. flowers on fresh wood.

A important genus with about 100 varieties of shrubs and vines, hydrangea is grown for its enormous and spectacular flower heads. The summer and fall, when most woody plants are dormant, are when hydrangeas bloom at their peak, and they are valuable just for that reason. Click on Growing Guide for additional details on how to take care of hydrangeas.

Can I grow hydrangeas next to a tree?

One of my favorite flowers, hydrangeas really steal the stage. We’ve planted a variety of hydrangea varieties over the years, including Oakleaf, Harmony, Snowflake, Limelight, and macrophylla lacecap and mophead varieties.

If at all feasible, place hydrangeas where they will get morning sun and afternoon shade. Avoid planting hydrangeas directly underneath trees where they will have to compete for water and nutrients, unless the shrubs are planted in a raised bed that rests above the root system of trees. The shrubs thrive in soil that has good drainage and a lot of organic matter. Hydrangeas need a lot of water to bloom.

I first planted our mopheads in a raised space beneath a big oak tree beside the driveway many years ago. At that time, the tree’s canopy extended well above the plants, letting in a lot of light. The region is now mostly shaded as a result of the tree’s growth and canopy spread over time. Although those shrubs produce few blooms, they provide lovely, lush green foliage. On the other side, hydrangeas frequently produce an abundance of flowers when grown in full afternoon shade, but their foliage dries up and burns.

In the backyard’s raised planting area, we added more macrophylla hydrangeas. There are also a few sizable trees in that bed, but because of the ideal sun exposure, they are in full bloom.

Along the edge of the woods, under trees, a long row of Oakleaf hydrangeas has been planted in raised beds. Each year, the hydrangeas produce runners that sprout new plants and blossom brilliantly. One of my favorite areas in our yard is there.

I like to plant practically all shrubs and trees in the fall, but hydrangeas can be planted in the early spring if they are cared for properly. Each shrub should have plenty of time to establish itself before the summer’s heat and dryness hit. Plant them early in the morning or late in the day to prevent heat stress whether they are planted in the spring or the fall. Plants should always be regularly watered until they are established.

Dig a planting hole that is at least twice as broad as the root ball and roughly the same depth for planting hydrangeas. The hydrangea should be planted level with the ground or just above it. Feed the plants with a slow-release fertilizer made for blooming shrubs, following the label’s instructions. At least three times per week, deeply moisten the skin. In order to keep the soil cool and moist and to stop weeds from growing, cover the planting area with an organic mulch layer.

Does Oakleaf Hydrangea tolerate total shade?

Oakleaf hydrangeas like midday shadow because they are understory plants in their natural habitat, especially in southern climes where nearly full shade may be required. Oakleaf hydrangeas may tolerate full sun in the North. The intensity of the fall color could be diminished by too much shade.

Are white hydrangeas shade-tolerant?

White hydrangeas come in a variety of varieties, each of which need particular care and planting conditions to thrive. The four most typical types are as follows:

Smooth (H. arborescens): The most often used cultivar is “Annabelle.” While southern gardeners should grow smooth hydrangeas in moderate shade, full light is where they flower at their best.

Bigleaf (H. macrophylla): Everyone loves bigleaf hydrangeas, but not everyone can grow them. They are the traditional florist varieties of hydrangea. Bigleaf plants thrive in moist, well-drained soils and partial shade. The majority can survive in Zones 5 or 4, depending on winter protection.

Cone-shaped flowers are produced by panicle hydrangeas (H. paniculata), which are hardy and simple to grow. They thrive in all but the coldest climes and appreciate full sun (Zone 3). Panicles normally bloom in the middle of summer, later than other types. Depending on the variety, heights can range from three to ten feet.

The oakleaf plant (H. quercifolia) has oak-shaped leaves that change into striking hues of burgundy, rust, or orange in the fall. As the weather cools, the white flower heads typically turn pink or tan. This native species’ cultivars, which are typically hardy to Zone 5, thrive on dry soils and full sun to moderate shade.

They are hardy

The species of hydrangea most tolerant of freezing temperatures is the panicle. They are dependable shrubs or tiny trees that thrive with little effort. Their sturdy, reddish-brown branches range from being straight to arching and occasionally bow from the weight of the enormous blossoms. Although something closer to 6 or 8 feet tall and wide is more typical, something up to 15 feet tall and wide is possible. Panicle hydrangeas are typically too large for small gardens, but anybody may enjoy them with careful pruning or by picking a tiny variety like ‘Dharuma’ or Quick FireTM.

Pruning doesn’t affect bloom

Panicle hydrangeas don’t mind being clipped, unlike bigleaf hydrangeas (H. macrophylla cvs., Zones 69). Typically in early spring, I advise trimming the plants back by about half of their height before the leaves appear, though this is optional if you have space for a larger plant. Due to space limitations in the trial beds, we had to start trimming, but the better habits and results we saw afterward encouraged us to keep doing it. The size of the hydrangeas with annual pruning is depicted in the chart below. Contrary to many bigleaf varieties, panicle hydrangeas bloom on new wood, thus trimming won’t stop them from producing blooms and might even make them bigger. Annual trimming, in contrast to some accounts, did not promote long, feeble stems that were unable to sustain the weighty blossoms. All the cultivars, with the exception of “Dolly,” were robust enough to support their blossoms.

Flower type and size vary

Panicle hydrangeas produce a mixture of beautiful, sterile florets and frothy, fertile florets in their flowers. The showy florets, which vary in size and number depending on the cultivar, create the protracted bloom show, which is accentuated by a transformation from white to various pink tones. Unsurprisingly, the breeding trend has been to enhance the pink hue of the wilting blooms. I employ the words “To distinguish between the two floral varieties of panicle hydrangea, use the terms lacy and “mop.” In contrast, Lacy describes an open panicle with showy florets scattered throughout the fertile flowers “Mop is a sign of an excess of colorful florets with fertile florets buried beneath.

Watch the pHbut don’t worry about deer

I discovered that the alkaline nature of our soils at the Chicago Botanic Garden, particularly in hot, dry weather, may contribute to panicle hydrangea foliar chlorosis. Consistent watering will guarantee healthier foliage and more robust bloom output in hot conditions. Panicle hydrangeas are resilient to urban environments and rarely encounter pests or illnesses. While some cultivars are frequently praised for their mildew tolerance, none of our plants ever developed powdery mildew. Deer also favor bigleaf hydrangeas, but they usually show less interest in panicle varieties.

They have some winter interest

I’m not crazy about going into detail about a plant’s winter characteristics, but I disagree with detractors who claim that panicle hydrangea lacks any winter appeal. When rimmed with frost or covered in snow, the faded brown blossoms add some color and structural interest. I prefer to leave them on till spring because I’m a lazy gardener at heart and I’ll be pruning the branches anyway. When the crispy panicles break off and roll across the garden like tiny tumbleweeds, it’s entertaining.