Throw some shade: Hydrangeas for the shade

Can hydrangeas grow in shade?

With bountiful flowers and exceptional versatility, it's no wonder that hydrangeas have become so popular among gardeners! With a wide range of varieties available, there is a hydrangea for nearly every garden. Given a sunny spot with well-draining soil, they are bound to bring you joy year after year. But will hydrangeas grow in the shade? 

Hydrangeas grow best in full sun (more than 6 hours sun) to part sun (4-6 hours sun). With that being said, all hydrangeas can handle some shade, but the timing and type of shade are important to consider. They can be in full shade during the hottest part of the day, as long as they are getting some morning sun. This is especially true in hotter climates. However, if they aren't getting enough sun, they don't flower as much and their stems tend to be weaker and floppier. 

Don't let a little shade crush your hydrangea-garden dreams. We've compiled a list of hydrangeas that are more shade-tolerant than others. 

Oakleaf Hydrangeas(H. quercifolia)

Oakleaf hydrangeas are the best choice for shady conditions. They earn the name from their dramatic oak-shaped leaves! It's easy to enjoy oakleaf hydrangeas in all four seasons with fuzzy spring buds, giant flowers in summer, vibrant fall foliage, and peeling winter bark. They still perform well in shaded areas, though they may have fewer blooms and less vibrant fall color.

Gatsby Pink Hydrangea blossoms
Climbing hydrangea on a pergola

Climbing Hydrangea (H. petioralis)

Climbing hydrangea is a climbing vine covered in fragrant, lacy blooms! It uses rootlets to climb tree trunks, walls, fences and other structures. Unlike other vines, they don't have heavy wood, so they don't harm trees. It blooms reliably in shaded conditions, but prefers part-sun.

Flirty Girl False Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma)

Okay, Flirty Girl may not be a real hydrangea, but it sure acts like a climbing hydrangea! It covers trees, walls, and pergolas with ease and decorates them in fragrant flowers. Plus, it grows faster than climbing hydrangea. 

Flirty Girl False Hydrangea Vine
Rose Sensation False Hydrangea Vine

Rose Sensation False Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma)

Similar to Flirty Girl and Climbing Hydrangea, Rose Sensation False Hydrangea Vine transform your garden by climbing on trees or structures. However, this one boasts rose-colored florets and red stems. Because it normally grows on large trees, it is used to some shade from tree canopies.

When to worry about your hydrangeas in the shade

If your hydrangea isn't blooming, has flopping stems, or stunted growth, it's likely that it isn't receiving enough light. Don't worry; you can always move it! Transplant your hydrangea to an area in your garden with more sun, or move it to a container to grow on sunny decks or patios.

1 comment

Sarah Padelford

Please note that shade or sun for hydrangeas depends on where you garden. In the South, almost all hydrangeas not only need but require some shade. 6 hours of sun in Zone 7B would cook them. No one has answered my concerned email that your location in Michigan seems more directed toward growing hydrangeas in northern climates. Again, morning sun, afternoon shade is crucial in the South.

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