Bigleaf Hydrangea

The mopheads and lacecaps are the workhorses of many summer flower gardens.
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Plant type: Deciduous shrub
Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 to 9

grd1211_lacecap

grd1211_lacecap

'Variegata'

'Variegata'

Bigleaf hydrangeas, a common shrub in the Southeast, are divided into two classes--the mopheads and the lacecaps. There are hundreds of cultivars in each group. Both shrubs flower in the summer, timing dependent on the type and cultivar, and there's considerable variation in flowers. As its name suggests, these hydrangeas have large leaves, giving it a coarse texture in summer. In the winter, the unbranched, vertical stems give the shrub a hopelessly coarse look.

The flower color of some of these hydrangeas depend on the pH of the soil (and, more directly, on how much aluminum is available in the soil). Although there are many exceptions, a pH of 5.0 to 5.5 will result in blue flowers and a pH of above 6 may mean pink flowers.

Cultivation

Bigleaf hydrangeas need moist, well-drained organic soil. Give it full sun to part shade; in the South, shade is essential. Mulch is helpful to help retain soil moisture. Do any pruning immediately after flowering; this shrub flowers on the previous season's growth (there are some exceptions among the cultivars).

Bigleaf Hydrangea Photos

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'Abracadabra Orb'

Plant this hydrangea variety for bright blooms. Its mop-head flowers bloom green and peach and mature to hot pink. Hardy from zones 5 to 9.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

'Abracadabra Star'

Abracadabra hydrangeas have silky, jet-black stems which contrast beautifully with the pink blooms in the summer. Since bigleaf hydrangeas like this one have shallow roots, they can benefit from 2 to 3 inches of shredded bark mulch.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

'Cityline Berlin'

You can't go wrong with 'Cityline Berlin' hydrangeas. They have thick, glossy, deeply quilted foliage and big, full flower heads. 

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'Cityline Mars'

This part sun to sun shrub yields long-lasting flowers. It grows well in both landscapes and containers, but if you grow it in a container, it should be planted in the ground in the fall. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

'Cityline Paris'

'Cityline Paris' has pinkish-red flowers that mature to green, and it works well in mixed containers, as cut flowers or as a hedge. It's also very mildew resistant.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

'Cityline Rio'

'Cityline Rio' brings deep blue to purple blooms. Add aluminum sulfate to the soil to encourage bluer color. As a Cityline hydrangea, Rio is compact and does not need pruning.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

'Cityline Venice'

This bigleaf hydrangea variety features pink to blue blooms and grows 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. The color of the blooms depends on the acidity of the soil. The more acidic the soil, the blooms are more likely to be blue. In slightly acidic to alkaline soils, the blooms boast lilac to pink colors. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

'Cityline Vienna'

The smallest of the Cityline series, Vienna also blooms blue or pink, depending on the acidity of the soil. 

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'Let's Dance Big Easy'

A reliable reblooming hydrangea, this beauty has large, vivid mophead flowers that change from pinkish-green to pink and sometimes back to green. If you love to cut hydrangeas, this one is for you.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

'Let's Dance Blue Jangles'

This low-maintenance garden grower prefers moist, well-drained soil. Its sturdy frame and beautiful mophead blooms make it perfect for containers.

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'Let's Dance Diva'

Needing part sun to sun, 'Let's Dance Diva' is easy to maintain. Her petals are large and pastel in color and flowers on both new and old wood.

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'Let's Dance Moonlight'

This hydrangea delights all year long beginning with its vibrant, mophead blooms in the summer and continuing through fall when it offers great fall foliage colors.

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'Let's Dance Rave'

Petals vary from rich violet-purple in acidic soils to saturated pink in more basic soils. Easy to maintain, this variety grows to 2 to 3 feet in height and requires part sun to sun. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

'Let's Dance Starlight'

'Starlight' requires regular watering and partial shade to full sun. This repeat bloomer produces vivid coloration and glossy foliage—great for mass plantings, containers or cutting.

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'Let's Dance Rhythmic Blue'

'Rhythmic Blue' is a reblooming hydrangea that blooms even after harsh winters and improper pruning. It's compact and mainly produces rich blue blooms.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

'Paraplu'

The unique feature of this hydrangea is its double florets. The part sun to sun shrub stands up well to heat.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

Bloomstruck Hydrangeas

Bloomstruck hydrangeas, as far as the eye can see, at one of the flower farms owned by Bailey Nurseries in Minnesota.

How to Use

Place hydrangeas in the shrub border where its summer flower show can be appreciated and its less-than-great winter form recedes into the background.

Selected Mophead Cultivars

grd1213_pennymac_hydrangea

grd1213_pennymac_hydrangea

'Penny Mac'

'Penny Mac'

  • 'Penny Mac'. A rebloomer, this cultivar keeps producing its medium-blue balls until frost.
  • Pink Elf(tm) (formerly, 'Pia'). Pink, three- to four-inch flowers on a compact (two- to three-foot) shrub.
  • 'Forever Pink'. Flowers earlier than most other mopheads, with three- to four-inch pink clusters that turn rosy-red in cool weather. Compact shrub to three feet. Flowers on current season's growth.

Selected Lacecap Cultivars

grd1213_lilacina_lacecaphydrangea

grd1213_lilacina_lacecaphydrangea

'Lilacina'

'Lilacina'

  • 'Lilacina'. The outer, sterile flowers are mauve, the inner fertile flowers are dark blue.
  • 'Blue Wave'. Sepals have wavy edges. Blue in acid soils, pink or lilac in more neutral soils.
  • 'Variegata'. Foliage is variegated, with creamy-white leaf margins. The inner flowers are blue in acid soils, pink in neutral; the outer flowers are usually white, tinged with the color of the inner flowers. Three-foot-tall shrub.

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