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10 Things Hydrangea Lovers Should Know

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

1. They have a storied history They grow just about everywhere! Native to southern and eastern Asia (from Japan to China, the Himalaya and Indonesia) and North and South America, Hydrangeas were first discovered growing wild in marshes. The mophead Hydrangea was hidden in the secret gardens of Japan for hundreds of years before it was discovered in 1776 by Swedish botanist Carl Peter Thunberg.

2. Just six species are commonly grown in American gardens While answers about the number of species of the genus Hydrangea vary–somewhere between 25 and 100 – one thing’s clear: In North America, we’re addicted to these six which are the most beloved and most commonly grown:

  1. Bigleaf, Hydrangea macrophylla

  2. Panicle, Hydrangea paniculata

  3. Smooth (‘Annabelle’), Hydrangea arborescens

  4. Climbing, Hydrangea petiolaris

  5. Mountain, Hydrangea serrata

  6. Oakleaf, Hydrangea quercifolia

3. What’s in a name? Call them what you will–mophead, French, bigleaf, florist, garden, lacecap, hortensia–they’re all Hydrangea macrophylla. Speaking of names, “Hydrangea” stems from two Greek roots, ‘hydro’ meaning water and ‘angeion’ meaning vessel. Together, the rough translation is “water vessel,” which refers to Hydrangeas’ thirst for water.

4. Some are hardy to -40 degrees F While the majority of Hydrangeas do their best work in zones 5 – 9, there are quite a few that are perfectly happy in zones 3 and 4. There’s a Hydrangea for just about every garden!

5. They range in height from 2′ tall to 80′ high Which means from pots to plots to walls, there’s a perfect one.

6. Blue to pink, pink to blue, but… No matter how much you try to change the soil pH, white flowering varieties will always stay white.

7. Pruning is not as complicated as you may think

  1. Prune summer bloomers in late winter.

  2. Prune spring bloomers right after flowering.

  3. Determine type of Hydrangea before pruning to get timing right.

  4. Stray or broken branches can be trimmed back any time.

8. Some can tolerate full shade There are Hydrangeas for full sun and others for part day sun, but few that bloom with abandon in FULL SHADE like the Plum Passion® Hydrangea (Hydrangea aspera). With all purple leaves and whispy flowers, the Plum Passion® Hydrangea was found in China by plant explorer Dan Hinkley.

9. They’re flush with meaning As you would expect anything this magical must have special meaning, right. No surprise, it’s the fourth anniversary flower.

10. Only a few are fragrant Some say they find Hydrangea fragrant, others, not so much. But, with Golden Crane® Hydrangea (Hydrangea angustipetala ‘MonLongShou’) there is no debate. This rare and precocious shrub, with large lacecaps of white and chartreuse not only blooms in late spring – among the earliest of all Hydrangeas to bloom – but is sweetly scented, a trait very rare in this genus. The jasmine-like scent will perfume an entire garden!

Learn more about the beloved Hydrangea at

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