15 Major Types of Hydrangeas And How To Identify Them

Hydrangea is a genus of flowering plant native to Asia and America. Hydrangea flowers are produced from early spring to late autumn, the flowers grow in flower heads (corymbs or panicles) most often at the end of the stems. Ideally, the flowerheads consist of two types of flowers; small non-showy flowers in the middle or interior of the flowerhead and large showy flowers with colorful sepals on the exterior.

Hydrangeas are popular ornamental plants; they generally make excellent additions to the landscape as foundation plants, specimen plants, shrub borders and even ideal for seaside planting. There are many types and varieties of hydrangeas in existence today.

List of Hydrangeas

1. Mophead Hydrangeas

Mophead hydrangea (Hydrangea Macrophylla) is the most common type of hydrangeas grown in home gardens and landscapes. It blooms in late spring or early summer, usually in May or June. This deciduous shrub grows to 2m tall by 2.5m broad with large heads of pink, purple or blue flowers in summer and autumn.

Growing mophead hydrangeas does not require a lot of work or know-how. This shrub thrives on minimum maintenance as long as they are grown in appropriate soils and climate. It loves full sun and partial shade in hot climates, as well as a well-drained, but moist soil.

Plant Profile

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea macrophylla
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Common Names: Bigleaf hydrangea, French hydrangea, mophead hydrangea and hortensia.
  • Flowers: Pink, Blue or purple
  • Native: Japan
  • Soil PH: An acidic soil (PH below 7)
  • Cultivars: All summer beauty, Altona, Blue Bonnet, Forever pink etc
  • Soil:  Moist soil but well-draining soil.
  • Fertilizer: Organic granular fertilizer
  • Common Problems: Leaf spot and powdery mildew

2. Hydrangea Aspera

Hydrangea aspera is native to the region between the Himalayas, across southern China to Taiwan. It produces dark green leaves and wide, flat clusters of purplish white and pink fertile blooms surrounded by varying shades of sterile lilac or rose florets which appear on arching stems in late summer and autumn.  Hydrangea aspera grows in moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade

Plant Profile

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea aspera ‘Villosa Group’
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Plant Type: Deciduous Shrub
  • Flowers: Blue, purple
  • Size: Up to 3 m (10ft) tall
  • Native: Himalayas across Southern China to Taiwan
  • Sun Exposure: Dapple Shade, full sun, partial shade
  • Soil Type:  Moist but well draining
  • Bloom Time: Late summer and autumn
  • Soil PH: Acidic
  • Common Problem: Leaf spot and powdery mildew

3. Hydrangea integrifolia

Hydrangea integrifolia also referred to as Entire leaf hydrangea, it is native to Taiwan and the Philippines.  It is vine with adventitious roots that enable it to climb without assistance onto any nearby solid structure. The leaves are about 6 inches long, dark green and glossy with a leathery texture.

Hydrangea integrifolia is found scrambling along shady woodland floors, up tree trunks and over rocky outcroppings. It grows in partially shaded areas and on coastal cliffs. Hydrangea integrifolia requires regular watering, well drained soil and sturdy supports. It can tolerate full sun to partial or dappled shade.  It can be propagated by cuttings and seeds.

Hydrangea integrifolia is a surprisingly vigorous vine and is excellent for covering unsightly retaining walls and harsh rockeries.

Plant Profile

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea Integrifolia
  • Common Name: Entire leaf Hydrangea
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Plant Type: Vinning Vine
  • Foliage Type: Evergreen
  • Flower Color : White
  • Native: Philippines and Taiwan
  • Sun/Light Exposure: Full to dappled shade
  • Water Requirement: Regular watering
  • Propagation: Cuttings and seeds
  • Soil:  Well drained soil.
  • Common Problems: Leaf spot and powdery mildew

4. Lacecap Hydrangeas

Lacecap hydrangeas are almost similar to mophead hydrangeas with the difference only existing in its flowers.  The flowers of this shrub are made of both sterile and fertile florets. In this regard, the arrangement of flowers is such that there is existence of fertile flower bud in the center, with showy flowers that circle the edge of the flower head. The showy flowers are sterile and their major role is to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies to the fertile buds at the center. This arrangement makes them very interesting.

When given proper care and attention lacecap hydrangea plant can grow up to 6 feet tall and bloom from July through August. Grow lacecap hydrangeas in an area with well-drained soil that receives early morning and afternoon shade. This shrub generally make excellent additions to the landscape as foundation plants, specimen plants, shrub borders and even ideal for seaside planting.

Plant Profile

  • Botanical Name: Lacecap Hydrangea
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Common Name: Lacecap hydrangea
  • Type Of Plant:  Versatile Deciduous Shrub
  • Flower Color: Blue and purple
  • Sun Exposure: Indirect bright light
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Common Problem: Leaf spot and powdery mildew

5. Mountain Hydrangeas

Mountain hydrangea is a deciduous shrub whose botanical name is Hydrangea serrata it is characterized by flattened heads with smaller flowers and leaves. The flowers are almost similar in arrangement to those of lacecap hydrangeas- smaller florets in the center surrounded by larger florets. The blooms are either blue or pink depending on the acidity of the soil. The flowers will be blue in higher acidic soils and lilac to pink in alkaline soils.

More importantly, mountain hydrangeas grows very in moist, well-drained, nutrient rich soil.

Plant Profile

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea serrata
  • Common Name: Mountain hydrangea
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Size: large shrub (3-5 feet), small shrub (below 3 feet)
  • Light exposure: Partial light or full shade
  • Native: Japan and Korea
  • Soil PH: Acidic soil ( Below PH7)
  • Soil Type: moist, well-drained soil, high in organic matter.
  • Bloom Time: Mid-summer, late summer, Early fall, mid fall
  • Flower Color: Blue, Pink and white
  • Shape Or Form: Mounded
  • Cultivars: Blue bird and woodlander
  • Common Problems: No serious disease problem

6. Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Hydrangea quercifolia, commonly referred to by its translation oak-leaved hydrangea or oakleaf hydrangea, is a species of flowering plant native to the Southeastern United States, in woodland habitats from North Carolina west to Tennessee and south to Florida and Louisiana. This shrub offers year-round beauty with their seasons of blooms, foliage and peeling bark.

Oakleaf hydrangea blooms in spring and early summer. The panicle flowers are greenish-white when they are young, picking up subtle shades of pink and brown as they age.  After new flowers stop coming, the blooms stay on the plant and look lovely as they mature.

Usually, the oakleaf hydrangeas growing under shade have larger leaves than those growing under bright sun. The leaves are normally characterized with yellowish green to dark green on top and silvery-white underneath.

Oakleaf hydrangea leaves turn rich shades of red, bronze and purple in autumn that persists in winter accompanying the persistent dried flower-heads. On maturity, the bark of oakleaf hydrangea plant peels to reveal a rich, dark brown layer which is pretty during the winter.

Plant Profile

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea quercifolia
  • Common Names: Oak-leaved hydrangea or Oakleaf hydrangea
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Native: United States
  • Type Of Plant: Deciduous shrub
  • Light Exposure: Full sun, Partial Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring, Later summer, Mid fall
  • Water Requirement: Regular Watering
  • Soil Type: Moist but well-drained soil
  • Soil PH: Acidic, Alkaline, Neutral
  • Common Problems: Nearly problem free from diseases and pests

7. Smooth Hydrangeas

Smooth hydrangea commonly referred to as wild hydrangea or sevenbark are deciduous plants native to the Southern United States from Florida to Louisiana. Its big flowers are its distinguishing feature, as they appear in a variety of colors including pink, white and green. Their bloom time is between June and September.

This type of hydrangea has a low mound of heart-shaped green leaves and sturdy stems that turn-dark yellow in the fall. The plant foliage has coarse texture and grows to about 3 to 4 feet tall with an even wider spread. Smooth hydrangea is perfectly used as mixed border or as a flowering hedge.

Smooth hydrangea can be grown in full sun or dappled shade and is surprisingly drought tolerant. Like most hydrangeas, it grows well in moist, well-drained soil and it requires only occasional pruning when it becomes leggy.

Plant Profile

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea arborescens
  • Common Name: Sevenbark or wild hydrangea
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Type Of Plant: Deciduous Shrub
  • Native: Southern United States
  • Light Requirement: Full sun or dappled shade
  • Bloom Time: Early summer to fall
  • Flower Color: pink, white and green
  • Soil Type: Moist but well-drained soil
  • Common Problems: Leaf spot and powdery mildew

8. Panicle Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Paniculata commonly referred to as panicled hydrangea is one of the more cold-hardy species of hydrangea. It is native to southern and eastern China, Korea, Japan and Russia. The leaves of this shrub are broadly oval, toothed and long. In late summer it bears large conical panicles of creamy white fertile flowers, together with pinkish white sterile florets.

Panicle Hydrangea can develop into a big bush and is particularly suitable for large gardens and it works well as a hedge or grouped in woodland garden setting. It can be properly pruned in late winter or spring. This hydrangea is more tolerant of sun than other varieties but prefer morning sun and afternoon shade.

Plant Profile

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea paniculata
  • Common Names: Panicled hydrangea, Peegee hydrangea, panicle hydrangea
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Type Of Pant: Shrub
  • Native: China, Japan and Siberia
  • Size: Large shrub (more than 8 feet) medium shrub (5-8 feet), small shrub (3-5 feet)
  • Light Requirement: Full sun, partial light
  • Soil Type: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Flower Color: White
  • Bloom Time: Early winter, mid summer, later summer and early fall.
  • Bark color and texture: Older bark has gray-brown, ridged and furrowed look.
  • Common Problem: Leaf spot, bud blight, bacterial wilt and powdery mildew

9. Climbing Hydrangeas

Hydrangea patiolaris commonly referred to as climbing hydrangea is a vigorous woody climbing vine, native to woodlands of Japan, Korean peninsula and on Sakhalin Island of eastern Siberia in the Russian far East. In early summer, this hydrangea produce fragrant, lacy (lace-cap), flat-topped, white flower heads. These lace caps can be 5 inches or more in width and are composed of showy flowers on the outside and less-than-showy flowers on the inside.

This type of hydrangea grows up on trees and rock faces by means of small aerial roots on the stems and can climb up to 50 feet tall. Climbing hydrangea vines can scale tree trunks, sturdy trellises, arbors and fences. Its leaves are deciduous, ovate, long and broad with a heart-shaped base, coarsely serrated margin and acute apex.

Climbing hydrangea can be a slow growing vine at first, however, once established it will take off and provide many years of beauty. The vines becomes large and heavy over time and therefore when growing it at your home garden, make sure that the host structure can support the weight of the vines.

Plant Profile

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea petiolaris
  • Common Name: Ground cover, vine
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Type Of Plant: Deciduous Shrub
  • Native: Japan, Korean and Siberia
  • Growth Rates: Slow
  • Foliage: Seasonally loses leaves
  • Light Requirement: Full sun or dappled shade
  • Bloom Time: Early summer to fall
  • Flower Color: Fragrant, white
  • Soil Type: Moist but well-drained soil
  • Bark color and Texture: Stems are dark cinnamon brown with exfoliating bark that splits and peels.
  • Common Problems: Leaf spot and powdery mildew