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The Best Hydrangeas for Shade: 6 Stellar Choices

Love hydrangeas but need a variety that will do well in the shade? Here are our top choices for the best hydrangeas for shade.

shade hydrangea varieties

Hello there and welcome to Hydrangea Love!

If you can’t already tell, we’re just a *little* obsessed with hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas are known for their captivating beauty and ability to transform any garden into a stunning display of vibrant colors.

While many hydrangea varieties thrive in full sun, there is a remarkable group of hydrangeas that can flourish in full shade or partial shade conditions, adding a touch of elegance to even the shadiest corners of your outdoor space.

In this post, we will delve into the world of shade-tolerant hydrangeas, exploring their unique characteristics, growing requirements, and the best ways to incorporate them into your landscape design.

Understanding Shade-Tolerant Hydrangeas

There are a lot of questions you should ask yourself when selecting the right hydrangea variety for your shady garden space.

For example, you might want to ask yourself things like, “How much sun does this spot get? What type of shade does it get (full or filtered?)”

Also, you’ll want to consider your personal preferences.

Do you want white or green flowers or more traditional blue or pink flowers?

Your preferences matter just as much as the logistics!

Anyhow, most shade-tolerant hydrangeas belong to the Hydrangea macrophylla species, commonly known as bigleaf hydrangeas.

These versatile plants have large, showy flower heads that can range in color from stunning shades of blue and purple to delicate pinks and whites.

The foliage of shade-tolerant hydrangeas is equally appealing, with glossy, dark green leaves that create an attractive backdrop for the blossoms.

New to the world of hydrangeas? Read about proper care in the fall months here.

The Best Hydrangeas for Shade

Cultivating Shade-Tolerant Hydrangeas

Selecting the Right Variety

When choosing shade-tolerant hydrangeas for your garden, it’s crucial to consider the specific variety that best suits your climate and growing conditions.

Your hydrangea type really does matter.

Some popular cultivars of shade-tolerant hydrangeas include ‘Nikko Blue,’ ‘Endless Summer,’ ‘Bloomstruck,’ and ‘Twist-n-Shout.’ (Read more about each variety below!)

These varieties have been bred to thrive in varying degrees of shade, so consult with local nurseries or gardening experts to determine the most suitable options for your area.

Important: Always consider your growing season and hardiness zone before selecting a hydrangea variety for your own garden.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Shade-tolerant hydrangeas prefer moist, well-draining soil. They thrive in soil with a slightly acidic pH level (around 5.5 to 6.5).

Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

While these hydrangeas are more tolerant of shade than their sun-loving counterparts, they still require some amount of filtered or dappled sunlight to produce abundant blooms.

Aim for at least a few hours of indirect sunlight per day for optimal growth.

Don’t forget to consider whether your planting area is getting morning sun and afternoon shade, or morning shade and afternoon sun. The latter will be much harder on the plant!

Watering and Maintenance

Regular watering is crucial for shade-tolerant hydrangeas, especially during hot summer months. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

Applying a layer of organic mulch will not only help with moisture retention but also suppress weeds.

Pruning is typically done in late winter or early spring, removing any dead or damaged wood and shaping the plants for the coming season.

Remember that not all shade-tolerant hydrangeas bloom on old wood, so be cautious while pruning to avoid removing potential flower buds.

Design Ideas and Landscaping Tips

Creating a Focal Point:
Shade-tolerant hydrangeas make excellent focal points in shady areas of your garden.

Plant them near entrances, walkways, or seating areas to add a pop of color and create a visually pleasing focal point.

Their lush foliage and magnificent flower heads will draw attention and create a sense of enchantment in any setting.

Combining with Companion Plants:
To create a harmonious and visually appealing garden, consider pairing shade-tolerant hydrangeas with other shade-loving plants.

Ferns, hostas, astilbes, and tiarellas make excellent companions, providing contrasting textures and foliage colors that complement the hydrangeas’ blossoms.

Related Reading: 15 Best Companion Plants for Endless Summer Hydrangea

Container Gardening:
If you have limited space or lack a suitable garden bed, shade-tolerant hydrangeas can thrive in containers. Use large pots with a good drainage system and a well-balanced potting mix.

Place the containers in areas where they can receive filtered sunlight and ensure regular watering to keep the soil moist. Container-grown hydrangeas can be easily moved around to create versatile displays and add a touch of elegance to patios, balconies, or shaded corners.

When it comes to the best hydrangeas for shade, several varieties stand out for their ability to thrive and produce stunning blooms in shady or partially shaded areas.

All of that being said, here are our top picks for the best hydrangea for shade.

hydrangeas for shade

The Best Hydrangeas For Shade

1. ‘Nikko Blue’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’)

This classic hydrangea variety is well-known for its large, mophead flowers that range in color from vibrant blue to lilac, depending on the soil pH.

‘Nikko Blue’ can tolerate partial shade and is a popular choice for shady gardens and landscapes.

Shop for your own Nikko Blue hydrangeas here!

2. ‘Endless Summer’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’)

This cultivar is a game-changer for shade-loving hydrangeas. It is a reblooming variety that produces beautiful pink or blue flowers, depending on the soil pH.

‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas can tolerate a fair amount of shade, making them a great choice for shady gardens.

You can find the Endless summer variety here.

3. ‘Bloomstruck’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bloomstruck’)

Another member of the reblooming hydrangea family, ‘Bloomstruck’ showcases large, vibrant flower heads in shades of pink, purple, or blue.

It thrives in partial shade and offers extended blooming periods throughout the summer.

Shop for your own Bloomstruck hydrangeas here.

4. ‘Twist-n-Shout’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Twist-n-Shout’)

This lacecap hydrangea is a stunning addition to shade gardens. It produces unique, two-toned flowers in shades of pink or blue, depending on the soil pH.

‘Twist-n-Shout’ is known for its exceptional cold hardiness and shade tolerance.

Twist-n-Shout is for sale online here.

5. ‘Tardiva’ (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’)

If you prefer a hydrangea with a different growth habit, ‘Tardiva’ is an excellent choice. It is a panicle hydrangea that thrives in partial shade to full sun.

‘Tardiva’ displays elongated, cone-shaped flower clusters that start out white and gradually turn a beautiful shade of pink as the season progresses.

Panicle hydrangeas are not always readily available in garden centers, so shop for them online here.

Learn more about the different types of hydrangeas here.

6. ‘Oakleaf’ (Hydrangea quercifolia)

While not part of the Hydrangea macrophylla species, ‘Oakleaf’ hydrangeas are renowned for their ability to tolerate shade.

They feature large, oak-shaped leaves that turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and burgundy in the fall. The cone-shaped flower clusters start off white and age to a lovely shade of pink.

Oakleaf hydrangeas aren’t easy to find but I’ve found them for you – click here to shop for them at Nature Hills Nursery.

That’s it!

These hydrangeas are just a few examples of shade-tolerant varieties, but there are many more to explore.

You can read all about the several different varieties of hydrangeas here.

The best place I have found to shop for hydrangeas online is Nature Hills Nursery. Check them out!

When selecting the best hydrangea for your shade garden, consider your specific growing conditions, the desired bloom color, and the overall aesthetic you wish to achieve.

Hydrangeas are a fantastic addition to any garden or outdoor space.

Their ability to thrive in shady conditions allows gardeners to bring captivating beauty and vibrant colors to areas that may have previously been overlooked.

By selecting the right variety, providing the ideal growing conditions, and incorporating them into well-thought-out landscaping designs, you can enjoy the lush foliage and mesmerizing blooms of shade-tolerant hydrangeas year after year.

I wish you the best of luck as you embrace the allure of these remarkable plants and their showy blooms.

Now go have fun transforming your shaded areas into enchanting havens of natural beauty.

Your Fellow Hydrangea Lover

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