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7 Types of Hydrangeas for Multi-Season Interest

Your garden needs good bones all year long. Use these types of hydrangeas to add interesting shape and colorful structure to beds and foundation plantings.

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A close up view of Hydrangea (Hortensia). Wonderful Purple, blue and pink flowersMJPS/Getty Images

Few plants are capable of carrying the garden through spring, summer, fall and winter. Hydrangeas are one of the best for this purpose, and they’re so low maintenance that you’ll want more once you’ve experimented with them! What’s more, there are ideal types of hydrangeas for all growing situations. If you have sun, shade or a bit of both, the right hydrangea will give your garden extra oomph.

Here are several types of hydrangeas that I recommend to elevate your landscape all year long. Once you find a plant you love, learn everything you need to know about how to care for hydrangeas.

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Limelight Prime Panicle Hydrangea

Just when we thought Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ couldn’t get any better… well, it did! This tried-and-true performer is known for sturdy stems with big, bodacious blooms and a fondness for sunny locations.

The only problem? Small landscapes can’t handle its size. At six to eight feet tall and wide, Limelight needs a lot of elbow room! But the new Limelight Prime is all that goodness packed into a smaller plant.

If you have four to six feet of space and a lot of sunlight, Prime will be right at home. Blooms emerge white, then transition to lime green before developing vibrant pink and red tones. If that’s not enough, the earlier bloom time means landscapes in colder climates can enjoy the flowers for much longer. Hardy in zones 3–8.

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Fairytrail Bride Cascade Hydrangea

At four feet tall and wide, Fairytrail Bride is equally at home in a mixed border where pollinators will flock to its flower-laden branches. It’s also an excellent choice for a moon garden near a sitting area where the flowers can be enjoyed as the sun sets.

It’s the very first cascading hydrangea of its kind in North America. The linear growth habit makes it ideal for containers or hanging baskets. Plant it along a retaining wall or path where its frilly white flowers can spill over the edge. No deadheading needed to keep this beauty flowering. Hardy in zones 7–9.

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Ruby Slippers Oakleaf Hydrangea

Come for the flowers, stay for the foliage! That’s the best way to explain Ruby Slippers Oakleaf hydrangea. As the name implies, the leaves resemble those of oak trees. The summer-to-fall transition is this shrub’s zenith. The green leaves become a rich ruby red topped with flowers that emerge white in spring, changing to shades of deep pink as they mature. Peeling bark, most noticeable when this shrub has lost its leaves, adds interest to the winter landscape.

Its compact size at 3-½ feet tall and four to five feet wide makes it perfect for tucking along the foundation or in a woodland setting where it receives filtered light. It has excellent cold tolerance, and because it blooms on old wood, no deadheading is needed. Hardy in zones 5–9.

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Seaside Serenade Newport Bigleaf Hydrangea

Give this showy rebloomer filtered or part sun and watch it light up the border with mophead flowers that change color depending on your soil chemistry. Alkaline soils produce deep pink flower colors, while more acidic soils give way to rich blue-violets. Sturdy stems support large flowers that keep coming all season long.

At just three to four feet tall and wide, Newport hydrangea is gorgeous in containers or mass planted around a seating area where its flowers can be appreciated. They also make great cut flowers! Hardy in zones 4–9.

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Climbing Hydrangea

If you have a large wall or fence in full to part shade that could use a dose of green, Hydrangea anomala petiolaris or climbing hydrangea is an excellent choice. This climber just asks for your patience as it establishes by way of tiny rootlets that attach to surfaces. It takes time, but once it gets going, this beauty can reach 30 to 50 feet if you allow it!

Lacy white flowers blanket climbing hydrangea in summer. Older stems develop a cinnamon-brown exfoliating bark that creates an interesting texture against walls in the winter. Hardy in zones 4–8.

Learn more about climbining hydrangeas and other perennial vines.

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Incrediball Smooth Hydrangea

The old shade garden classic Annabelle hydrangea is notorious for flopping after even the lightest rainfall. The new and improved version, Incrediball, boasts sturdier stems and enormous flowers about the size of basketballs.

Flowering begins on this North American native in mid-summer with white flowers that transition to jade green as they mature. While they’ll grow in shade, flowering is best in full to part sun locations. At four to five feet tall and wide, Incrediball makes an excellent hedge or specimen plant. What’s not to love about an easy-to-grow cold hardy shrub with flowers as big as your head? Hardy in zones 3–8.

Don’t miss our full list of flowering strubs for full sun locations!

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Tiny Tuff Stuff Mountain Hydrangea

Hydrangea macrophyllas have an awful reputation for poor bud hardiness in cold climates. In spring, they emerge with lush green foliage, but not a single flower in sight. That’s not the case with Hydrangea serrata, or mountain hydrangea, and Tiny Tuff Stuff is aptly named. This hydrangea hails from the mountains of Japan. It’s able to withstand consistent cold temperatures and still emerge from the winter covered in dainty, waterlily-like flowers.

Flower color depends on soil chemistry but is often pale blue, pink, white or a combination of all three. At just 18–24 inches tall and wide, Tiny Tuff Stuff is a little garden gem! Hardy in zones 5–9.

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Heather Blackmore
Heather Blackmore is an award-winning, Chicago-area writer and photographer specializing in home and garden. Her work has been featured on Good Morning America, as well as in numerous national and regional publications including Better Homes and Gardens, Country Gardens and Chicagoland Gardening magazines. Heather launched her blog, Here She Grows, in 2017, to share the ups and downs of garden life in her small suburban backyard. When not gardening, she enjoys knitting, watercolor painting and navigating life as a new empty nester.

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