Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris is the familiar climbing hydrangea, and the only climber of the genus Hydrangea that we can reliably grow in most parts of the U.S. There are other plants commonly referred to as “climbing hydrangeas” however, and these are also listed here.
As a group they prefer partial shade and decent soil with adequate moisture. They climb by holdfasts, attaching to trees, walls and fences. They are deciduous and all are slow to bloom, often taking many years. Flowering is promoted if climbing is frustrated. So, blooms are seen sooner when planted on a short wall or fence rather than a 60’ tree. Or, you can choose to keep it at a height you are able to maintain. Whack it back in late spring to convince it that it can go
no higher. (This takes courage, we know. But what is gardening but courage and faith?)
With the exception of Schizophragma h. ‘Roseum’ all have white flowers that are slightly fragrant, and all but Decumaria are lacecaps. True hydrangea vines have 6” - 10” lacecap blooms with 4-petaled sterile flowers. The sterile surrounding sepals of Schizophragmas are single and shaped like a thumb print on lacecap blooms
that can be 10” -12” wide. Zones are given with each plant description.
We grow a number of climbing hydrangeas.