Hydrangeas for Shade or Sun
Enjoy a Bouquet on Every Stem!
Hydrangeas are one of our customers' favorite flowering shrubs. With big, bouquet-sized blooms in shades of blue and pink to lime and white, it's easy to see why! Visit our Garden Center soon to choose from dwarf and full-sized varieties for shade or sun!
Hydrangeas for shade in the Charleston area include Bigleaf, Mountain, and Smooth types.
Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) bloom pink or blue (depending on soil pH) late Spring into Summer and are commonly described as mopheads due to their large, ball-shaped blooms. They have wide, textured leaves and sturdy, thick stems. These hydrangeas bloom on old wood, which means they form next season's flower buds on their stems before they bloom. Generally, it is okay to prune away spent flowers. However, to avoid cutting of next year's blooms, it's advisable to avoid pruning this type of hydrangea except for removal of dead branches in Spring once the plant starts to leaf out.
Mountain hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata) bloom in Summer and are also referred to as lacecap hydrangeas as their blooms appear dainty and delicate like lace. Their leaves and stems look a lot like the bigleaf hydrangeas - in fact, it's hard to tell the difference when they are not blooming! These hydrangeas bloom first on old wood. Varieties in this category that rebloom form more flower buds on new growth and bloom again later in the season. If you're uncertain as to whether you have a variety that is reblooming, err on the side of caution when pruning - prune modestly during the growing season to remove spent flowerheads and then only to remove dead branches when leaves emerge in Spring.
Smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea aborescens) bloom in Spring with white or pink ball-shaped blooms. The foliage of these hydrangeas is thinner and more delicate than the bigleaf or mountain hydrangeas. These hydrangeas also have woody stems and bloom on new wood. This means buds form on the current season's growth, so it's okay to wait until the plant has gone dormant in the Fall or until early Spring to prune them.
All of these shade hydrangeas appreciate being shielded from intense, direct sunlight in the afternoon - especially during our hot summers. Gentle morning sun, dappled light throughout the day, or shade for the majority of the day are ideal sunlight situations for these varieties.
Hydrangeas for sun in the Lowcountry include Panicle and Oakleaf types.
Panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) bloom mid to late Summer into early Fall. Their flowers first arise lime-green to white, filling out to a full cone shape that turns blush to red as the weather cools down in the Fall. These hydrangeas have woody stems and thinner, narrower leaves than the bigleaf hydrangeas. Panicle hydrangeas bloom on new wood with their buds and blooms occurring in the same season, so it is safe to prune in late Fall or early Spring while the plant is dormant without risk of removing flower buds.
Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are one of the more unique hydrangea types, offering showy, cone-shaped, white flowers in early summer. Oakleaf hydrangeas have woody stems, and as their name suggests, large, oak-shaped leaves. Like panicle hydrangeas, oakleaf hydrangea blooms take on rosy tones as the weather cools down in Fall. And, BONUS! Oakleaf hydrangea foliage turns a beautiful red as the shrub prepares to go dormant in the Winter. Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood, so take care to prune moderately, if at all, immediately after flowering for size and when new growth emerges in Spring to remove dead branches.
Of the sun hydrangeas, panicle hydrangeas are the toughest when it comes to full sun in our climate. Oakleaf hydrangeas come in second with the ability to handle full sun once acclimated.
When considering hydrangeas for your landscape, take note of the amount of space you have available and how much sunlight the area receives at what time of day. At our Garden Center, we carry dwarf hydrangeas and full-sized hydrangeas. Not sure which type is right for your landscape? Our Nursery Professionals will be happy to assist!