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Hydrangeas are a massively popular genus of flowers, with hundreds of subspecies to choose from. Their signature flower clusters are beloved by gardeners everywhere, and their versatile colors and shapes offer countless options for your landscape design. Even within the same species, hydrangea varieties can look and perform completely differently. No matter what the size or light exposure of your space, you can cover it with flowers with one of these beautiful hydrangea options. These are some great hydrangea options that thrive in our Illinois growing zones!


Hydrangeas for Curb Appeal

One thing that just about every hydrangea species has in common is showiness. These hydrangeas will definitely make your home stand out on your block.

Climbing hydrangeas – Martha Stewart has a fondness for these gorgeous vines! It takes some time for climbing hydrangeas to start climbing, but once it gets going, climbing hydrangeas can cover tree trunks, trellises, arbors, and even the side of your home with flashy foliage and flower clusters. Climbing hydrangeas prefer shade or part sun. They bloom in early summer, but the reddish peeling bark also has ornamental qualities in the winter.

Smooth hydrangeas – Smooth hydrangeas are known for their massive flower clusters. Thanks to the big impact of their blooms, smooth hydrangeas are great for planting along home facades and to cover front fencing. The ‘Annabelle’ variety is extremely popular, but the Proven Winners variety Incrediball® is a variation of ‘Annabelle’ with even larger blooms that bloom up to a month earlier.


Hydrangeas for Hedging

Hedges are a great way to add some extra privacy to your back or front yard. If the traditional boxwood or privet hedges aren’t your style, some hydrangeas make effective hedges that also add great summer and fall color.

Panicle hydrangeas – Most panicle varieties can be pruned and trained into a tree shape, but they also function well as decorative hedges if the suckers are allowed to grow. They can tolerate full shade to part sun, which makes them ideal as a free-standing hedge or up against a fence. The varieties ‘Grandiflora’ and ‘Tardiva’ are popular panicle hydrangeas for hedging.


meyer CTA


Hydrangeas That Grow in Shade

Shady areas can look a little dark without some bright and beautiful flowers to lighten them up. These hydrangeas bring shady areas to life:

Oakleaf hydrangeas – Considered one of the easier hydrangea species to care for, oakleaf hydrangeas grow well in shade or partial shade. The varieties ‘Alice’ and ‘Snowflake’ are some of the taller and showier oakleaf hydrangea varieties, at 8-10’ tall. For a more compact plant, consider ‘Little Honey’ or ‘Vaughn’s Lillie’, which each grow about 4’ tall.

Mophead hydrangeas – Not only do these attractive hydrangeas thrive in the shade, but they also produce showy flowers that can be colored pink or blue by manipulating the soil pH. Try ‘Lemon Daddy’, which features vibrant chartreuse foliage. The ‘Color Fantasy’ variety is even more eye-catching, with rich red blooms and glossy green foliage.


Hydrangeas for Sunny Spots

Most hydrangea species prefer to stick to the shade, but a few tolerate the sun.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ is one of the most famous panicle hydrangea varieties. This hydrangea thrives in full sun to light shade. It has earned a solid reputation thanks to its intriguing floral display. Limelight blooms lime-green flowers in midsummer, which fade over time to deep pink.


hydrangea oakleaf shrub


Container Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are known as more of a ‘super-sized’ plant, growing big and tall with massive flowers. However, some varieties can do well in containers and can really tie together a garden design that incorporates multiple hydrangea species.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Early Sensation’ – This dwarf hydrangea variety is better adapted to containers due to its small size. The flowers occasionally start off white, but typically bloom either pink or blue.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Selma’ – A gorgeous dwarf mophead variety with large, showy clusters of bright pink flowers. ‘Selma’ needs alkaline soil for the best color.

Hydrangeas come in so many different shapes and shades, it can be hard to narrow down your options to a few favorites. Visit our garden center for help finding the perfect hydrangea for your landscaping project. Wherever you want to add a little drama, there’s a perfect hydrangea for you!


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