Content Detail

The white flower clusters of this summer-blooming shrub add a fresh note of color to the landscape. Native to China and Japan, panicled hydrangea is one of  the more cold-hardy species of hydrangea. It blooms on branches that grow in the current season, so even a harsh winter does not stop the flower show. The flowers are held upright on sturdy stems and contrast nicely with the green foliage. It ranges in size from dwarf (2 to 3 feet high) to tree-like (15 to 20 feet), depending upon the cultivar. 

  • Family (English) Hydrangea
  • Family (botanic) Hydrangeaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest early winter, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Broad, Irregular, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast

Native geographic location and habitat:

Panicled hydrangea is native to China, Japan and Siberia.

Attracts birds and butterflies:

This plant attracts monarch butterflies.

Bark color and texture:

Older bark has a handsome gray-brown, ridged, and furrowed look.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are simple, opposite, dark green, oval and 3 to 6 inches long with toothed margins. Fall color is late in season so the color change is mild – green with a little yellow, yellow-orange, or purple mixed in.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Showy, long-pointed, panicle-type flower clusters bloom in midsummer and last into fall with a mild fruity fragrance. They open white, gradually change to pink and then brown in late fall. Dried clusters can last all winter.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The actual fruit (a dry capsule) is not ornamentally important, but the remains of the dry flower heads that surround it provides winter interest.


Plant care:

Best in full sun to part shade in moist, organically rich, well-drained soil. Avoid extremely dry sites. Plants are shallow-rooted, so mulch to keep roots cool. Prune in late winter or early spring for shape and to encourage vigorous growth and larger flowers. Will produce flowers on wood produced in the current year. Is tolerant of aerial salt spray.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

No serious problems. Chlorosis can occur in alkaline soils.

Bobo® panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘ILVOBO’):

A small, compact shrub, 2 to 3 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide, with white upright flowers on study stems.

Grandiflora panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’):

A very large shrub at 10 to 20 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide. White flowers are densely packed into rounded clusters that can be so heavy they weigh down branches. Prune and thin plant periodically to 5 to 10 primary shoots. An old-fashioned cultivar often referred to as the PeeGee hydrangea (for the initials of paniculataGrandiflora’). PeeGee is often used to refer to the species, but it actually refers only to this cultivar. 

Limelight panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’):

Mounded in form and more compact than the species at 6 to 8 feet high and wide. Creamy white rounded flower clusters, up to 8 inches across, emerge on strong, upright stems in July. As flower clusters mature, their color changes from creamy white to lime-green, rosy pink in fall and tan in winter. Medium-green leaves turn various shades of red in fall.

Little Lime™ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Jane’):

A smaller form of  Limelight hydrangea, reaching 3 to 5 feet high with the same beautiful creamy white flowers changing to lime-green in mid-summer and shades of red in the fall. 

Little Lamb panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Little Lamb’):

A compact variety, 4 to 6 feet high and wide. Dense, cone-shaped white clusters of flowers on red twigs appear on upright to arching, stiff stems.

Pee Wee panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pee Wee’):

A smaller version of ‘Grandiflora’, 6 to 8 feet high and wide. One of the first panicled hydrangeas to flower in late June. Flower clusters are 6 inches long, whitish-green and conical. Medium green leaves change to reddish purple in fall. 

Pink Diamond panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’):

Upright to rounded shrub, 10 to 15 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide. It has large (8 to 12 inch), cone-shaped flower clusters that open in mid to late summer as creamy white and then gradually change from the base of the panicle, to a showy dark pink.

Pinky Winky™ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘DVP Pinky’):

A compact plant, 6 to 8 feet high and wide, with large cone-shaped flower clusters that open white and then change pink from the base, producing a two-tone effect.

Praecox panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Praecox’):

Large rounded shrub, 10 to 15 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide, is one of the earliest to bloom. Whitish-green, 6 inch long conical flower clusters appear on stout stems in late June.

Quick Fire™ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bulk’):

Compact, mounded variety, 6 to 8 feet high and wide with dark green foliage. It is long-blooming, with conical white flower clusters that change from white to a deep rich pink.  Flowers earlier than other cultivars and has some yellow-orange fall color.

Tardiva panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’):

One of the last hydrangeas to bloom, this is a large, upright shrub, 10 to 15 feet high and wide. It  blooms in August and September with showy, white flowers that turn purplish-pink with age. Fast growing.

Unique panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Unique’):

Relatively compact variety at  6 to 10 feet high and wide. It has large, creamy white conical-shaped flower heads on strong stems starting in July.

Vanilla Strawberry™ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Renhy’):

An upright shrub with cascading branches and large, 7-inch clusters of white flowers that fade to strawberry-red in late summer. Showy blooms last three to four weeks before turning brown.

White Diamonds™ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘HYPMADI’):

Compact hybrid of ‘Pink Diamond’ that is good for small shade gardens. It grows in an upright, vase-shaped habit and is 5 to 6 feet high and wide. The white flower clusters on upright stems fade to brown. Leathery dark green summer foliage turns a yellow fall color.


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