• Sandi Manna

Choosing Hydrangeas Part III. Oakleaf Hydrangeas, Panicle Hydrangeas and Climbing Hydrangeas.

Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are easy care hydrangeas with large, dramatic blooms, and four seasons of interest. These are great for areas where watering is difficult as they require less water than the Bigleaf hydrangea. These start out in summer with large white flowers that come in single or double form. As the summer fades to fall, the blooms turn to rose and burgundy. In the fall, the large oak-leaf shaped leaves take on beautiful shades of red, burgundy and purple. The show doesn't stop there! When the leaves drop, exfoliating, cinnamon-colored bark is revealed to add winter interest in the garden.

'Gatsby Moon' with it's doubled florets. Very full flowers take on a 'quilted effect'. This particular variety has flowers that age to a pretty shade of green rather than red. The leaves still put on an incredible autumn display. 8' Tall and Wide.

Hydrangea Quercifolia 'Gatsby Moon' photo courtesy of Pride's Corner Farm

Another gorgeous oakleaf hydrangea is 'Gatsby Star'. Large, showy doubled blooms that put on a stunning summer show. Creamy white flowers with pointed petals emerge in summer. They turn a dusky pink as summer fades, and stunning fall foliage make this a garden star. 6-8' Tall and Wide.


Hydrangea Quercifolia 'Gatsby Star' photo courtesy of Pride's Corner Farm

f you don't have a huge space for an oakleaf hydrangea, don't despair. 'Ruby Slippers' has you covered. 3-4' Tall and 4-5' Wide. A standout in any garden. 8-10” tall pyramids of white flowers explode into bloom in July, turning pink with age. By September they are a showy ruby color. Spectacular burgundy foliage in fall and exfoliating cinnamon-colored bark will have your friends talking!

Hydrangea Quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers' photo courtesy of Pride's Corner Farm

All Oakleaf hydrangeas thrive in full sun to part shade, and bloom on old wood. They require little care.

Next are the Panicle Hydrangeas. Panicle hydrangeas are also known as peegee hydrangeas, hardy hydrangeas, and limelight hydrangeas. They are the easiest to grow, most adaptable hydrangea. Full sun to part shade, they bloom on new wood.

We'll start with the hydrangea tree. This is a large panicle hydrangea trained in tree form. 'Limelight' hydrangeas push out masses of cone shaped lime green flowers in mid summer that turn hues of pink, and rose in fall. These flower heads can get up to 12”! Sturdy stems keep them from flopping. There are many varieties of hydrangea trees, too many to cover here. Take a little time to do some research if you decide to put one in your landscape.

Here is 'Limelight' in tree form in one of our landscapes.


'Diamond Rouge' Panicle Hydrangea is a bit smaller at 4-5' Tall and 3-4' Wide.This is a hydrangea I love. Long lasting white blooms turn raspberry red and ultimately wine red as the summer wanes on. This is the reddest of all the panicle hydrangeas.


Hydrangea paniculata 'Diamond Rouge' photo courtesy of Pride's Corner Farm

If space constraints are a problem, here's 'Bobo'. This hydrangea gets to be 30-36” Tall and 36”-48” Wide. The smallest of all the panicle hydrangeas, this enchants any landscape with its celestial white flowers which turn a rosy hue in fall. Great for small gardens or borders.


I just can't resist one last panicle hydrangea. With well over 20 varieties, it's really hard to select only two or three.

My absolute favorite hydrangea of all is 'Great Star' Panicle Hydrangea! These stunning flowers open to large, wavy white florets that are shaped like little stars. These flowers can get up to 4” in width. The shrub itself is 6-7' Tall and 7-8' Wide. While the flowers do not turn pink, don't let that deter you.

The starry flowers are worth it!


Now we come to the very last hydrangea in our series. The climbing hydrangea. A climbing, woody vine native to Asia, this hydrangea has fragrant, white lacecap flowers. This vine is great for challenging areas. It will take full sun all the way to full shade. It will have fewer flowers in full shade, but will still grow and flower. It can be placed on the north or east-facing side of a building and has sturdy aerial roots that will cling to anything. It should be noted here that vines of any type should NEVER be encouraged to grow directly on a building. That can damage the building. Sturdy lattice work or trellises are much more suitable.

Most of the climbing hydrangeas are fairly similar. One climbing hydrangea with a slight distinction is 'Moonlight'. White flowers are set on a background of unique blue-green foliage.


Schizophragma'Moonlight' Photo Courtesy of Prides Corner Farm.


There are pink varieties such as Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Roseum' which has deep green, heart shaped leaves. Does well in a partially shady area and has unforgettable pink lacecap flowers. All forms of hydrangea vines require a sturdy support structure such as a heavy wooden trellis or fence where they can grow and show off their unique foliage and blooms.

Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Roseum' Photo courtesy of Prides Corner Farm


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