Hydrangeas are a group of deciduous shrubs, vines and trees famous for large clusters of showy flowers. These fast growing plants are so versatile that they can serve as single specimens, in a group or as container plants in hardscaped areas. In zones 4 through 10, you can grow beautiful hydrangeas in your garden to add color and texture to your property then pick a few to use indoors fresh or dried floral arrangements.
Bigleaf hydrangeas, also known as French Hydrangea, have large clusters of pink or blue flowers that can change color depending upon the pH of the soil. The pH affects the availability of aluminum in the soil and alters flower color. Acidic soil, with a pH of 5.5 or lower the flowers will be blue. Hydrangea flowers with a pH of six or greater with have pink flowers. These hydrangea shrubs grow to heights of 3 to 6 feet and have a mounded appearance. The weight of the flower clusters may weigh down the branches, adding to its rounded look. You can find these hydrangeas with two distinct flower clusters types. One type is a ball-shaped cluster of small flowers and the other is a lacecap with a ring of flowers around a fertile flower center. Bigleaf hydrangeas bloom from late spring to early summer.
Oakleaf Hydrangeas are characterized by large, oak leaf shaped leaves and clusters of white flowers that change colors in the fall. These hydrangeas grow to heights of six feet, with 8-inch leaves and clusters of flowers that can reach almost a foot in length. The leaves turn from green to a bronze color in the fall while the white flowers turn to shades of pink. The Oakleaf hydrangeas have a similar round shape as the Bigleaf varieties and bloom in early to mid-summer.
PeeGee Hydrangeas can grow as a shrub or a tree. As a shrub, the plant can grow to heights of 10 to 15 feet. Tree PeeGees can be up to 25 feet tall if you prune them into a tree shape as they begin to grow in your garden. PeeGee hydrangeas have 5-inch leaves and large cone-shaped clusters of white flowers that are heavy and weigh down the branches. Similarly, to the Oakleaf varieties, PeeGee hydrangea leaves change to bronze color in the fall and the flowers change to pink. This hydrangea variety often blooms after the Bigleaf types.
Climbing Hydrangeas also have 6 to 10-inch clusters of white, lacecap flowers. The climbing vines have small, 2 to 4-inch round leaves. The vine bark will begin to peel as it ages and has a dark orange hue. The fragrant flowers grow along the vine, which can reach lengths of 60 to 80 feet. Hydrangea vines can grow along brick walls, wooden fences or masonry building materials.
Smooth Hydrangeas are one of the smallest hydrangea plants standing at only 5-feet in height. These shrubs have oval leaves that are 4 to 8 inches in length. The flower white clusters are very heavy and will bend the branches toward the ground. You can provide support to the flowers to keep them off the land surface. Smooth hydrangeas bloom throughout the summer.
Image courtesy of USDA.gov