Content Detail

Silver-leaved hydrangea is an attractive shrub native to Appalachia. Its lace cap clusters of flowers in early summer emerge green and change to white. Its distinctive characteristic is the silvery underside of its leaves. Silver-leaved hydrangea is somewhat sensitive to drought, so it needs a site with moist soil. May be difficult to find in nurseries.

  • Family (English) Hydrangea
  • Family (botanic) Hydrangeaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Mounded
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and Form:

Silver-leaved hydrangea grows 4 to 6 feet high and wide with a mounded form. It is similar to the smooth hydrangea (H. arborescens), but the silver-leaved hydrangea has a more impressive flower display. 

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to mountainous areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Found in rich woods, rocky slopes, and stream banks.

Bark color and texture:

Bark is smooth and shiny gray-brown.

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

Simple, opposite, green leaves are 2 to 8 inches long with toothed edges. Lower leaf surface is densely covered with felt-like hairs, appearing bright white or silver, giving the plant its common name.   

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Large clusters of creamy white, flat-topped flower clusters appear on the ends of its branches in midsummer.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is a dry capsule, not ornamentally important, but the remains of the dry flower heads that surround them do provide winter interest.

Plant care:

Silver-leaved hydrangea prefers full sun to light shade in average to moist, well-drained soil. If pruning is necessary, it can be done right after flowering or they may be cut back in late winter. Mulch to help maintain soil moisture. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

No serious problems.

Samantha silver-leaved hydrangea (Hydrangea radiata ‘Samantha’):

The flowers are in a snowball-type cluster, instead of a lace cap.


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