Your guide to

Proven Winners® ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs

Hydrangeas for the South

Limelight Prime hydrangea with large blossoms

What you need to know about growing hydrangeas in hot climates

Whether your tastes tend toward the classic pink, purple, or blue blooms of big leaf or mountain hydrangea (H. macrophylla and H. serrata), the giant cones of panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata), the eye-popping orbs and discs of smooth hydrangea (H. arborescens), or the four-season beauty of oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia), here you'll find everything you need to know to pick the right hydrangea for your unique climate - and your taste.

While the South's climate presents lots of opportunities to grow beautiful hydrangeas, it also poses some challenges that you should know before picking and planting a hydrangea.

In your case, your concern about success with hydrangeas isn't so much how much cold they can take, but how much heat and humidity they can tolerate and still earn pride of place in your garden or landscape.

With a little know-how (which we're going to give you here), you'll not only be able to pick the perfect hydrangea for your climate, but care for it like a professional horticulturist.

Big Leaf & Mountain Hydrangeas (H. macrophylla + H. serrata)

Maximum Heat Tolerance

Big leaf and mountain hydrangeas are heat tolerant through USDA zone 9. They are cold hardy down to USDA zone 4 or 5, depending on the variety.

Native Range

Japan and China. Big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) occur naturally in coastal areas; mountain hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata) occur in mountainous regions. These hydrangeas may also be called florist hydrangeas, hortensia, or mophead hydrangeas.


These are the classic plants that come to mind when you think of hydrangeas: large orbs of blue, purple, or pink flowers. Their foliage is thick, dark green, leathery, and usually quite shiny. Their stems are typically spotted but may be red or black, depending on the variety. Flowers may be mophead or lacecap. Blooms on old wood, though reblooming varieties bloom on both old and new wood. Deciduous.

Light Requirements for the South

Shade during the hottest part of the day is imperative in hot climates. They can take a bit of morning sun, which will help plants develop strong stems and more abundant, more colorful flowers.

What to expect from big leaf & mountain hydrangeas in the South

  • They will begin to bloom much earlier than in the North – generally, late spring as opposed to summer.
  • Reblooming varieties like the Let’s Dance series will put on their new wood buds sooner, and bloom for much longer.
  • Flower color may be less vivid during periods of hot weather, particularly if night temperatures are high. However, bright, true colors will return will it gets cooler.
  • Plants will tend to get taller and wider due to the longer growing season and milder winters.

Growing Tips

  • Avoid pruning big leaf and mountain hydrangeas – cutting them back will impair current or future blooming. If they need to be pruned, cut them after they bloom in spring/summer, but know they may skip rebloom or the following season’s bloom.
  • A good 2-3″ layer of shredded bark mulch or pine straw is imperative for the delicate, shallow roots of these hydrangeas. 
  • While big leaf and mountain hydrangeas are generally disease resistant, powdery mildew can develop in high humidity. Avoid wetting the foliage and provide good air circulation to mitigate.

  • 3D Model
    FAIRYTRAIL BRIDE® Cascade Hydrangea®

    Meet the first ever Cascade Hydrangea® available in North America! We’re confident you’ll love its unique horizontal growing habit, especially since flowers develop at every leaf cluster along its graceful, trailing stems. Its summer borne florets are filled with deckle-edged petals, bringing a frilly, lacy look to the landscape. There are no limits to the ways you can use Fairytrail Bride® in the garden – it’s ready to wow your neighbors in hanging baskets, containers, cascading over retaining walls, and filling in mixed beds.

    We recommend part sun (4-6 hrs sun/day) for this plant; morning shade is particularly key for its success. See, the Cascade hydrangea plant itself is actually quite hardy. However, it blooms much, much earlier than other old wood-blooming hydrangeas, like big leaf and mountain. This makes its beautiful blooms extra susceptible to spring frosts and freezes. We found that if the plant is grown in a spot with morning shade, then the potential damage from those spring cold snaps is mitigated because the frost melts more slowly, limiting the damage it causes to the delicate floral tissue.

    Why grow Fairytrail Bride® Cascade Hydrangea®:

    – Incredibly floriferous!

    – Lush! Mid-sized habit is filled with healthy green foliage.

    – Totally new opportunity to love and learn more about hydrangeas.

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  • LET’S DANCE® BLUE JANGLES® Reblooming Bigleaf Hydrangea

    Let’s Dance® Long blooming hydrangeas flower on both old and new wood, so they flower even after harsh winters or untimely pruning. If the early summer bloom is compromised by late freezes or a pruning mistake, the plants will flower again in late summer. This is a compact selection with a sturdy frame and abundant mophead flowers. The blooms are rich blue or pink, depending on soil.

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    LET’S DANCE BIG BAND® Reblooming Bigleaf Hydrangea

    An endless drive for improvement is what motivates our big-leaf hydrangea breeding, so for us to make a new introduction, a plant has to be significantly better than what’s already available. That’s why Let’s Dance Big Band hydrangea has been added to the line: it combines bodacious, big mophead flowers with pure, true colors (pink in neutral/basic conditions, blue in acidic conditions) on a plant that survives winter better and reblooms better. That means more flowers, from the beginning of hydrangea season until the snowflakes fly!


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    LET’S DANCE CAN DO!® Reblooming Bigleaf Hydrangea

    Let’s Dance Can Do! hydrangea is an excellent rebloomer, requiring only a short period of vegetative growth in order to create new wood blooms. However, it has another trick up its sleeve: it sets its flower buds along the entire length of the stem, not merely at the tips. This means that if this hydrangea is cut back, or damaged by cold temperatures, those lower old wood buds will still develop into flowers. It’s a huge leap forward in achieving success with hydrangeas for landscapers, home gardeners, growers, and retailers alike. Abundant, semi-double, star-like florets make the lacecap flowers very showy.

    Why grow Let’s Dance Can Do!® Long blooming bigleaf hydrangea?

    • incredible flower coverage
    • easy maintenance
    • very long bloom time
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  • TUFF STUFF TOP FUN® Mountain Hydrangea

    Color is dialed all the way up with Tuff Stuff Top Fun® Long blooming hydrangea. It starts with rigid burgundy stems that peek out here and there as they hold up each vibrant bloom. The lacecap flowers will have purple or pink coloring on the large, petal-like parts, but the centers are always a cheery soft green. These wide, flat flowers are perfect for drawing in pollinators and cut flower enthusiasts alike. Better yet, they can keep visiting throughout summer and into fall as it reblooms freely. When the weather starts to cool in autumn, the foliage changes to a beautiful dusty burgundy. A great stem for autumnal cut flower displays.

    Why grow Tuff Stuff Top Fun hydrangea?
    – Impressive amounts of color on just one plant.
    – Heavy flower set for a lovely front of the border show.
    – Easy care regimen with high disease resistance and no need to prune.

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  • TUFF STUFF AH-HA® Mountain Hydrangea

    When it comes to blooming, Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha® hydrangea can’t stop, won’t stop! At first glance, it would appear that we decided to introduce this beautiful mountain hydrangea solely for its waterlily-like double florets. But that’s only part of the story – it’s also a prolific rebloomer. All summer long, it devotes its energies to creating flower buds on its new growth so that you have a constant supply of fabulous blooms from early summer through frost. Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha® hydrangea will bloom pink or blue, depending on soil chemistry.

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  • TINY TUFF STUFF™ Mountain Hydrangea

    Closely related to H. macrophylla, H. serrata has very similar cultural requirements but better flower bud hardiness for improved blooming. Tiny Tuff Stuff is a Long blooming variety that will flower in early summer, then again on new growth later in the season. It has abundant, dainty lacecap flowers with doubled sepals. Flowers range from blue to pink to white – all soft delicate shades perfect for refined gardens. This is an excellent choice for climates where bigleaf hydrangeas struggle to overwinter.

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  • TUFF STUFF™ Mountain Hydrangea

    Extremely cold hardy and extremely beautiful. Tuff Stuff™ is the founding member of the Tuff Stuff™ series, a group of hydrangeas known for their reliable beauty! Its electric pink, or purple, lacecap flowers are faithfully present from early summer well into fall. Staking or supporting its stems isn’t necessary because they naturally stand strictly upright. These vibrant flowers and healthy dark green foliage look right at home in mixed perennial beds, in containers with annuals, and planted in groups in the border. You can expect the flower color to change depending on your soil pH, you’ll get pink with alkaline and neutral soil, and purple with acidic soil. So, if you’ve been having trouble getting bigleaf hydrangeas to overwinter and bloom, give this relative of theirs a chance.

    Why grow Tuff Stuff™ mountain hydrangea?

    – Bright pink or purple lacecap flowers from early summer into fall.

    – Reliable bloom and rebloom thanks to great winter hardiness.

    – Petite habit fits in many different garden roles.

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  • CITYLINE® PARIS Bigleaf Hydrangea

    Cityline Paris is one of the all-time best sellers, thanks to its big, round, near-red mophead flowers and super petite habit. It makes a fantastic gift plant!

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  • WEE BIT GRUMPY® Bigleaf Hydrangea

    All the dramatic color your dream garden needs! Wee Bit Grumpy® bigleaf hydrangea is GLAD to show off its hot pink, magenta, or moody violet flowers (depending on your soil pH). These fully saturated mophead blooms are packed onto a tight, compact habit. Easy for tucking into the front of your border to deliver summerlong color with its Long blooming nature! You won’t have to lift a finger to keep this little beauty looking fresh, as it’s one of the most rugged hydrangeas you’ll find. It’s extremely disease resistant and will thrive in a range of soil conditions, from clay to salt to alkaline or acidic! This dwarf hydrangea is anything but cranky, and it’s sure to put a smile on your face.

    Why grow Wee Bit Grumpy® bigleaf hydrangea?

    • Luscious dark blooms
    • Petite habit
    • Matures quickly
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  • WEE BIT GIDDY® Bigleaf Hydrangea

    These deeply saturated blooms catch your attention and keep it! Wee Bit Giddy® bigleaf hydrangea has large mophead blooms that are either red-pink in average soil or dark purple in soil treated with aluminum sulfate. A tight, compact habit filled with strong stems and glossy foliage makes a great supporting cast for these impressive flowers.  The best news yet is the Long blooming! In the summertime, it flushes with color from old wood buds, and later on, it produces a fresh crop of flowers from new wood! So, if a late winter cold snap or an incorrectly timed pruning session strikes, you’ll still get a flower show.

    Why grow Wee Bit Giddy® bigleaf hydrangea?

    • It reblooms throughout summer
    • Impressive flower color in any soil
    • No pruning needed
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  • TUFF STUFF™ Red Mountain Hydrangea

    Extremely cold hardy and extremely beautiful. Tuff Stuff™ Red is a member of the Tuff Stuff™ series, a group of hydrangeas known for their reliable beauty and easy care regimen. You can count on it to fill the entire summer, and early fall, with dark reddish-pink, double lacecap flowers. Because it Blooms on both old and new wood, you’ll get a captivating blend of fresh and mature flowers. Fresh flowers have dark reddish-pink petals with lime green accents in the center, while mature flowers have turned entirely pink. Flowers will change color according to pH, expect pink coloring with alkaline or neutral soil and purple with acidic soil. Either color is nicely accented by handsome, dark green foliage that grows in a thick, tidy habit so compact that it doesn’t need pruning.

    Why grow Tuff Stuff™ Red mountain hydrangea?

    – Vivid pink-red, lacecap flowers for the entire summer.

    – Reliable bloom and rebloom thanks to extreme cold hardiness.

    – Petite habit fits in many different garden roles.

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Oakleaf Hydrangea (H. quercifolia)

Maximum Heat Tolerance

Thrives in all but the hottest Southern climates, growing readily through USDA zone 9.

Native Range

Southern and Southeastern US, from the Carolinas to Arkansas and South from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle.


Large, conical flowers in early summer that are white with some varieties aging to a nice pink. Oakleaf hydrangea derives its name from its large leaves that resemble those of oak trees. The foliage turns appealing shades of burgundy and red in autumn, making it one of the best hydrangeas for fall color. Peeling bark in winter provides interest even during the off-season. Flowers are generally lacecap, but some mophead types can be found. Blooms on old wood wood. Deciduous.

Light Requirements

Oakleaf hydrangeas are very shade tolerant, though deep shade will hinder blooming and fall foliage color. Ideally, plant with a few hours of sun and shade during the hottest part of the day.

What to expect from oakleaf hydrangeas in the South

  • Will bloom earlier than in the North
  • Plants will generally attain larger sizes
  • Varieties that age to pink may not develop the best color
  • Fall color occurs later

Growing Tips

  • Plant in moist but well-drained soil; established plants show some drought tolerance.
  • Prefers acidic soils and may turn yellow in alkaline conditions.
  • Leaf spot may develop but does not harm or set back the plants.
  • Blooms on old wood – best left unpruned, though branches may be selectively pruned to manage width or develop a more dramatic habit.
  • GATSBY GAL® Oakleaf Hydrangea

    It’s amazing to see a native oakleaf hydrangea out in a woodland, but it can be hard to picture it in the garden. That’s where the Gatsby series of H. quercifolia comes into play. This lovely native species becomes accessible to ornamental, small-scale woodland, and any other garden imaginable. Gatsby Gal® in particular is a compact selection with extra showy, full panicles of white flowers and dramatic fall foliage. Its large flowers are held away from the plant in an exclamation style, giving it an exciting firework-like appearance.

    Why grow Gatsby Gal® oakleaf hydrangea?

    • Dense, white flowers look striking in the shade.
    • Compact habit makes it a good fit for many landscape roles.
    • A native that attracts pollinators.
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  • GATSBY MOON® Oakleaf Hydrangea

    It’s amazing to see a native oakleaf hydrangea out in a woodland, but it can be hard to picture it in the garden. That’s where the Gatsby series of H. quercifolia comes into play. This lovely native species becomes accessible to ornamental, small-scale woodland, and any other garden imaginable. For an out-of-this-world flower show, look no further than Gatsby Moon®. Really, its flowers are so massive and so round that seeing it in bloom truly reminded us of seeing the big, beautiful glowing moon at night. When it’s in bloom this plant stops you in your tracks and its pillowy mophead-like flowers draw you in for a closer look. They open a creamy white, misted with green, and slowly mature to a lovely shade of green that persists throughout the rest of the summer. Come fall, the foliage lights into glowing burgundy color, giving it even more appeal. Use it as an informal hedge or tuck it into a woodland or native garden to WOW your visitors.

    Why grow Gatsby Moon® oakleaf hydrangea?

    • Densely packed, massive flowers.
    • Very sturdy, whimsically bent stems offer an architectural element.
    • Flowers mature to a handsome green color.
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    GATSBY PINK® Oakleaf Hydrangea

    It’s amazing to see a native oakleaf hydrangea out in a woodland, but it can be hard to picture it in a garden. That’s where the Gatsby series of H. quercifolia comes into play. This lovely native species has become accessible to ornamental, small-scale woodland, and any other garden imaginable. With Gatsby Pink® you get true panache. Its flowers are perfect lacecaps, mounded into panicles that are larger than footballs. Let’s just say, they really stand out. In summer the blooms emerge pure white and slowly mature to a captivating dark shade of pink. Often by that time the oak leaf-shaped foliage has also started to gain its fall color, a rich shade of mahogany-purple. Together this makes an incredibly colorful show and looks perfect when used as a border plant, tall hedge, or in mixed borders with other whimsical natives.

    Why grow Gatsby Pink® oakleaf hydrangea?

    • Unbeatable fall color in flowers and foliage.
    • A native that attracts pollinators.
    • Very shade tolerant – finally a way to get big color into low-sun areas!
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  • GATSBY STAR® Oakleaf Hydrangea

    It’s amazing to see a native oakleaf hydrangea out in a woodland, but it can be hard to picture it in a garden. That’s where the Gatsby series of H. quercifolia comes into play. This lovely native species becomes accessible to ornamental, small-scale woodland, and any other garden imaginable. With Gatsby Star® you get the glam. It brings more drama than you could imagine with its array of star-shaped, double florets. These double florets are gathered atop the fertile flowers in a lacecap panicle the size of a football. It’s an unexpected treat for any garden, but especially in native or pollinator beds. Its larger size makes it a perfect candidate for hedges, screens, or as the glue that holds a foundation planting together.

    Why grow Gatsby Star® oakleaf hydrangea?

    • One of the most unusual flowers you’ll ever see!
    • A native that attracts pollinators.
    • Quite shade tolerant, a great fit for those looking to spice up their low-sun spots.
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Climbing Hydrangea (H. petiolaris + H. hydrangeoides)

Maximum Heat Tolerance

Climbing hydrangeas are heat tolerant through USDA zone 9.

Native Range

Japan and Korea. Though Hydrangea petiolaris is known as "climbing hydrangea," the closely-related Hydrangea hydrangeoides (formerly known as Schizophragma hydrangeaoides) is known as Japanese hydrangea vine.


These two climbing hydrangeas are woody vines that scramble up trees or structures using clinging aerial rootlets. White lacecap flowers appear in late spring/early summer. Blooms on old wood. Deciduous.

Light Requirements

As these species grow up trees in their native environments, they are well-suited to shady conditions and look their best under high canopies that let light through to the plant.

What to expect from a climbing hydrangea in the South

  • Faster growth than in the North
  • Will get established more quickly, leading to earlier blooming
  • Larger flowers, earlier in the season

Growing Tips

  • Provide a sturdy, permanent structure for these vines
  • Aerial rootlets cling best to rough textures, like masonry or tree bark.
  •  Most likely will not begin to cling on its own until its second season after planting.
  • FLIRTY GIRL® Japanese Hydrangea-vine

    One of the problems with Schizophragma and other climbing hydrangea is that they can take a while to mature and produce flowers. Flirty Girl® solves this issue, producing beautiful flowering 2 or 3 gallon plants with loads of lightly fragrant white blooms. Young purple shoots add to its interest. Developed in France by Pepinieres Minier.

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  • ROSE SENSATION™ Japanese Hydrangea-vine

    An elegant and distinctive vine for training up trees or north facing walls, this slow-growing plant is a nice choice for woodland landscapes. Selected for its showy pink sepals, it does need some time to get established in the landscape before it will flower.

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Panicle Hydrangeas (H. paniculata)

Maximum Heat Tolerance

Generally speaking, panicle hydrangeas are heat tolerant through USDA zone 8. However, 'Limelight' has proven heat tolerant through USDA zone 9. Testing is ongoing with the other Proven Winners ColorChoice panicle hydrangeas.

Native Range

Japan, Taiwan, China. Also called hardy hydrangeas, peegee hydrangea, P.G. hydrangea.


Big, conical blooms are reminiscent of ice cream cones or footballs. They start white or green and age to shades of pink, red, and burgundy. Plants come in a range of sizes, from very small (2'/.6m) to 10'/3m+. Very popular for cut flowers, both fresh and dried. Blooms on new wood. Deciduous.

Light Requirements

Panicle hydrangeas are the most sun and drought tolerant of all hydrangeas. However, in the South, afternoon shade is recommended for best flowering and the best potential for pink/red color to develop later in the season.

What to expect from panicle hydrangeas in the South

  • Though plants will flower abundantly, blooms may not develop the rich pink-red colors you see in photos, particularly if night time temperatures are high.
  • Plants will generally get larger, faster, so should be pruned accordingly.
  •  High humidity in the summer often reduces water needs; panicle hydrangeas are very sensitive to root rot in wet soils so if you see wilting, don’t automatically assume water is needed. Check soil moisture manually first. 

Growing Tips

  • If blooms are going brown instead of aging to pink/red, this may indicate the plant is not getting enough water or that night time temperatures are too high for color to develop.
  • Does not tolerate wet soil – monitor soil moisture carefully.
  • Some sun is recommended for strongest stems and best flower development. 
  • ‘Limelight’ Panicle Hydrangea

    A landscape classic, ‘Limelight’ has large lime-green flowers that are held upright on strong stems. The flowers mature to pink and burgundy in autumn. Whether used as a specimen plant or planted en masse, this is an easy-to-grow, durable plant that provides beautiful flowers every year. This hydrangea flowers on new wood, so it will bloom even after harsh winters.

    Why grow ‘Limelight’ panicle hydrangea?

    • Reliable blooms every year
    • Unique coloring
    • Easy care maintenance
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    BOBO® Panicle Hydrangea

    A delightful dwarf variety that doesn’t skimp on blooms. Bobo® panicle hydrangea’s massive flowers emerge a handsome creamy, lime green and mature to glowing pink. It blooms earlier than other varieties and offers a delightful start to the hydrangea season for gardens big and small! Its compact size fits easily into any landscape, including container gardens or tight spaces. This hydrangea produces flowers on new wood and therefore will flower reliably, without the worry of harsh spring temperature drops zapping buds or improper spring pruning removing them entirely. Although it has a playful name, Bobo takes easy-care elegance very seriously!

    Why grow Bobo panicle hydrangea:

    • Massive Blooms on a small habit
    • Blooms early in the summer
    • Compact habit is very useful
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  • LITTLE LIME® Hardy Hydrangea

    Little Lime® panicle hydrangea has the same big blooms and cool green coloring you love from ‘Limelight’, but its space-saving stature means it can be planted in more gardens than ever! Its strong stems hold flowers strictly upright, creating a worry free, long lasting display. It performs well in containers and looks handsome when planted in foundation designs or as a low hedge.

    Why grow Little Lime® panicle hydrangea?

    • Useful dwarf size
    • Long-lasting flowers
    • Elegant color transition
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  • 3D Model
    FIRE LIGHT® Panicle Hydrangea

    Big blooms, big habit, and very little to worry about. Fire Light® hydrangea has large, showy blooms, held perfectly upon strong stems. In early summer, its flowers emerge creamy white and mature to an extremely rich pomegranate-red color. All the while, its thick green foliage remains healthy and vibrant until fall. For such a large plant you’d think it would need more maintenance, but a simple health trim in spring sets it up nicely for the rest of the season until the following spring. It sets buds on new wood, so there is no worry about removing them accidentally with pruning or seeing them zapped off by a sharp dip in temperatures in the springtime. Its easy-care nature, adaptability to many soil types, and ability to thrive in full to part sun makes it an easy choice as a specimen, hedge, or in foundation plantings.

    Why grow Fire Light® panicle hydrangea?

    • Deep pomegranate-red color
    • Thick, sturdy stems for unflopping flowers
    • Blooms on new wood, no need to worry about harsh winters
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  • 3D Model
    FIRE LIGHT TIDBIT® Panicle Hydrangea

    A low, mounding habit displays the fabulous blooms of Fire Light Tidbit to extreme advantage! Flowering in late summer, this hydrangea is the perfect option for continuing the hydrangea fun well into fall! Each large rounded bloom emerges frothy lime green, matures to white, blushes to pink, and finishes vibrant dragon fruit pink. Its foliage is at work in the autumn as well, providing the “fire” for this show by blending into hues of orange, maroon, and red! When it comes to front of the border beauty, this dwarf hydrangea provides just the captivating display you’re looking for!

    Why grow Fire Light Tidbit® panicle hydrangea?

    • Extremely colorful flowers and foliage
    • Late summer blooms provide fresh interest for fall
    • Dwarf size offers a variety of uses
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    LIMELIGHT PRIME® Panicle Hydrangea

    Everything you love about ‘Limelight’ panicle hydrangea, but with a boost. Limelight Prime® has a more compact habit, so more of us can fit it into our gardens! It has darker, healthier-looking foliage that makes an impressive backdrop when it isn’t in bloom. Most importantly, you’ll love the stronger stems! Each bright lime green flower is held sturdily aloft for its entire flower show and well into the fall, when it has finished to a rich punch pink color. If flowers are left standing for the winter, they’ll continue to bring interest to the garden. This long-blooming favorite works nicely when planted as a specimen plant, in containers, and especially as hedges!

    Why grow Limelight Prime® panicle hydrangea?

    • Stronger stems
    • Handsome dark foliage
    • Brighter mature blooms
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  • TINY QUICK FIRE® Panicle Hydrangea

    There’s always that one garden spot we treasure, but nothing seems to do it justice. Until now! Tiny Quick Fire® panicle hydrangea is the plant for the job. It’s the smallest, most prolifically blooming hydrangea imaginable. Easily tucked into just about any spot, you’ll find it looks lovely in groups, in pots, and even as a tiny little edging hedge. Like the other members of the Quick Fire family, it blooms early. Its foliage is practically obscured by brilliant white blooms in early July, and by September, they’ve matured to rich dark pink. This tidy hydrangea is so easy to care for that it will soon become your go-to plant. Just plan to water it regularly while it’s getting established its first year, water during droughts after it’s established, and prune its old flowers off in the spring. And voila, you’ll have a trusty flowering plant ready to impress any visitor from summer into fall.

    Why grow Tiny Quick Fire® panicle hydrangea?

    • Extremely small habit means infinite uses in the garden
    • Early blooms extend hydrangea season
    • Flowers on new wood = reliable performance
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    PUFFER FISH® Panicle Hydrangea

    If you’ve been blown away by Bobo® hydrangea, hold onto your hat when you meet Puffer Fish® panicle hydrangea. The flowers are larger and more prolific, covering the foliage altogether when it blooms in mid-summer. Each flower opens pure bright white and ages to handsome lime green. When you think the show is winding down, each bloom sends out a little sprig of white flowers at the top. It’s got a solid, rounded habit built from very strong stems. As a cut flower, it brings a bit more pizazz than your average panicle and in the garden, it fits easily into many different roles. Use it as a specimen, mid-sized hedge, or plant it in groups in a border.

    Why grow Puffer Fish® panicle hydrangea?

    • Whimsical new growth on flowers in midseason
    • Large, plentiful blooms
    • Flowers on new wood = reliable performance
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  • LITTLE QUICK FIRE® Panicle Hydrangea

    As a dwarf form of Quick Fire® hydrangea, Little Quick Fire® is just as early-blooming, but about one third of the size. Its blooms begin white and change to burgundy pink over a short time, giving the late summer garden a true jewel to marvel at. Flowering about a month earlier than other panicles and with the best fall foliage color of any panicle hydrangea, it lengthens the hydrangea season for any garden! This makes it an easy choice for foundation plantings, where its full habit softens the straight lines of a home and its blooms provide long-lasting dazzling beauty.

    Why grow Little Quick Fire® panicle hydrangea?

    • Useful compact size
    • Dramatic color show
    • Easy-care maintenance
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  • 3D Model
    QUICK FIRE FAB® Panicle Hydrangea

    Start hydrangea season sooner with this early bloomer! Quick Fire Fab® panicle hydrangea’s massive football-shaped (and sized) blooms cover the entire plant from top to bottom before other hydrangeas’ buds have even begun to swell! Each flower opens a cheery lime color and turns to watermelon from the bottom upward, slowly becoming two-toned. Altogether the show is so fabulous it’s hard to look away. It fits nicely into a low-maintenance garden, as a specimen in your front yard, as foundation plants among favored perennials in a mixed bed, or wherever you need an easy-care colorful shrub.

    Why grow Quick Fire Fab® panicle hydrangea?

    • Early flowering extends the hydrangea season
    • Large, colorful blooms
    • Flowers on new wood = reliable performance
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  • LITTLE LIME PUNCH® Panicle Hydrangea

    A color show that really deserves to be called remarkable! Little Lime Punch® begins its show in early summer similarly to Little Lime®, with handsome lime-green blooms. But it’s as the summer progresses when you see the true difference. Its blooms gradually mature to bright Hawaiian Punch-red… and then it reblooms! Creating a mix of lime green, white, pink, and dark pink blooms all on one compact little shrub. It is one of the happiest looking plants we’ve seen and fits perfectly into vibrantly colored mixed beds, on patios in containers, or in foundation plantings to enliven any front garden.

    Why grow Little Lime Punch® panicle hydrangea?

    • Useful, compact stature
    • Festive mix of colorful blooms
    • Easy-care nature
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  • PINKY WINKY PRIME® Hydrangea

    A lot of breeding work is about introducing smaller plants, but in this case, we went big. Pinky Winky Prime® is literally a bit bigger than its predecessor and it’s got a bigger personality to match! Its big lacey flowers are like lanterns in the summertime. Vibrant white panicles begin to blush up from the bottom, turning the blooms into a two-toned combo that’s impossible to miss. At the summer’s end, it sets itself apart from the original by deepening to a shade of true dark pink.

    Why grow Pinky Winky Prime hydrangea?
    – Massive flowers
    – Interesting color change from summer into fall
    – Large size works perfectly as a screen or as the specimen for an island bed

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  • PINKY WINKY® Hardy Hydrangea

    A whole garden in one plant. Pinky Winky™ is covered in massive two-toned panicles in the summertime. Flowers emerge bright white at the tip and mature in color from the bottom up, flushing a dramatic dark pink. The flowers continue to grow throughout the summer, giving the plant two distinct colors at once. What makes this a truly impressive show, however, is the size of the bloom itself. Ranging from 12 to 16 inches, these flowers easily steal the show! They’re displayed nicely on very strong stems, so there’s no worry of them flopping just when the show is at its height. You truly only need one plant to make your garden one of the most impressive in the neighborhood! Who knew choosing a specimen plant could be so easy?

    Why grow Pinky Winky™ panicle hydrangeas?

    • Two-toned coloring
    • Panicles are huge – 12-16″ long panicles
    • Extremely strong stems
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  • QUICK FIRE® Panicle Hydrangea

    This extremely early bloomer fills the garden with lush lacecap loveliness well before other panicle hydrangeas have begun to bud out. Its fluffy flowers open bright white and mature to a soft shade of pink, just as other panicles are beginning to bloom. If you love hydrangeas, Quick Fire® will help you get the most out of the season! By the time fall rolls around, its blooms have finally matured to a rich, dark pink accompanying glowing red and orange fall foliage. It makes a handsome addition to mixed borders and perennial gardens. It sets buds on new wood, so you’ll never have to worry about harsh winters zapping your precious summer show.

    Why grow Quick Fire® panicle hydrangea?

    • Dazzlingly colorful flowers and foliage.
    • Quickly grows to its mature size.
    • Very strong stems.
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Smooth Hydrangeas (H. arborescens)

Maximum Heat Tolerance

Smooth hydrangeas are heat tolerant through USDA zone 8. They may be able to be grown in cool parts of USDA zone 9 with enough shade and well-drained soil.

Native Range

This North American native occurs naturally from New York west to Iowa, and from Louisiana east through northern Florida. This hydrangea is also known as wild hydrangea, hills of snow hydrangea, wild seven bark, or 'Annabelle' hydrangea (which refers to the specific variety 'Annabelle', released to the market in the 1960s).


Large, rounded blooms on thin, elegant stems in early summer. Though for years, white was the only option, now pink, mauve, and lime green varieties can be found. In nature, flowers are lacecap but nearly all popular garden varieties are mopheads. Blooms on new wood. Deciduous.

Light Requirements

Shade during the hottest part of the day is imperative, though a bit of morning sun or some filtered light will result in bigger blooms, stronger stems, and in the case of the colorful varieties, more vivid color.

What to expect from smooth hydrangeas in the South

  • Earlier bloom time than in the North
  • Plants will reach a larger size
  •  In too much sun and/or high humidity, blooms can turn brown in center.
  • For the strongest stems, cut back by only about half the total height. Do not cut to the ground.

Growing Tips

  • Good drainage is essential for success with smooth hydrangeas. Avoid wet conditions and monitor moisture carefully, especially during high humidity, when plants aren’t using as much water.
  • Makes an excellent cut flower
  • Lacecap varieties like Invincibelle Lace hydrangea attract pollinators.
  • 3D Model
    INCREDIBALL® Blush Smooth Hydrangea

    All the same strength and beauty of the original Incrediball®, but a lovely shade of blush-pink. In early summer a sea of dark pink buds float atop sturdy stems, flushing out into massive silvery-pink blooms for a long summer show. It reblooms throughout the season and into autumn, giving this plant a complex, months-long color show. Its convenient size suits it well for use in the middle of the border, as the thriller in container plantings, and just about any other landscape application you can think of!

    Why grow Incrediball® Blush smooth hydrangea?

    • Fantastic native for the cut flower garden.
    • Very strong stems.
    • Captivating coloring.
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  • INCREDIBALL® Smooth Hydrangea

    Impressive. The massive white Blooms on Incrediball® smooth hydrangea are held aloft on extremely strong stems. Not a flopping flower to be found! These basketball-sized blooms open green, quickly turn white, and slowly mature to rich jade green. It isn’t only an improvement over the original ‘Annabelle’ for its massive flowers, but for its performance as well! These stems are so strong that they’ll hold up the dried flowers all winter long, providing an interesting view when the days are dreary. Come early spring, all you’ll have to do is give it a light trim, taking off just one-third of its height and width. And with that simple task done yearly, it’ll perform like a champion! Looks lovely as a foundation planting, in mixed beds, and when planted en masse it’s hard to look away from!

    Why grow Incrediball® smooth hydrangea?

    • Tons of extra large flowers.
    • Easy care regimen.
    • Very cold hardy, will grow in a range of locations!
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    Enjoy hydrangea season for as long as possible with Invincibelle Garnetta® smooth hydrangea! When other smooth hydrangeas are starting to mature into their solemn beauty, Invincibelle Garnetta® is just getting started! Its deliciously dark red buds arrive and set the scene for a dramatic dual-color flower show. Its flowers open and reveal petals with light pink fronts and dark ruby-hued backs, giving you a dynamic two-toned look. As the flowers mature they turn to a soft cool pink color that contrasts nicely with large healthy foliage that looks blue in certain lighting! Year after year you’ll come to rely on this easy-going native. With its ability to flower on new wood and a naturally compact habit, you’ll find you have hardly any work to do to keep it growing beautifully.

    Why grow Invincibelle Garnetta® hydrangea?

    • Later flowering time extends hydrangea season.
    • Dark red coloring gives the garden a splash of uniqueness.
    • East maintenance = beauty you can rely on.
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  • 3D Model
    INVINCIBELLE LACE® Smooth Hydrangea

    There is nothing out there quite like Invincibelle Lace® hydrangea. It’s the very first smooth hydrangea that features warm purple lacy florets! The delicate beauty of these lacecap flowers is enjoyed by pollinators and humans alike, not least of all for their ability to remain visible through almost any weather thanks to their hard-working stems. Each strong stem is a lovely ruby hue, providing yet another facet of beauty to enjoy, and stands solemnly upright, only swaying gently in the wind. The combination of lacy flowers and long, spaced-out stems creates the most ethereal look, perfect for Mass plantings in meadow-style gardens, filling in the middle of a border, or settling into a pollinator garden to provide reliable summer pollen and nectar.

    Why grow Invincibelle Lace® smooth hydrangea?

    • Dual-purpose flowers – pretty for the garden and useful to pollinators.
    • Totally unique, a great addition for collectors or true plant geeks.
    • A fantastic cut flower, adds dimension to any arrangement.
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  • INVINCIBELLE LIMETTA® Smooth Hydrangea

    For those of us who simply cannot get enough green goodness in our gardens. Invincibelle Limetta® smooth hydrangea is the next step when it comes to the classic ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea, it has much stronger stems, a more manageably sized habit, and most importantly, it pumps up the green coloring! When it flowers in the summertime, blooms emerge a captivating jade-green hue and soften to a creamy green for a period of time before maturing to a cozy, soft green. All the while it is still putting out new flowers! With its ability to rebloom you’ll never be without a delightful blend of green flowers to admire, from early summer well into fall. This mid-size native fits easily into any color scheme or garden plan as a border filler, specimen, or even the thriller in a container.

    Why grow Invincibelle Limetta® smooth hydrangea?

    • Fantastic coloring, unique blooms all season long.
    • Reliable, hardy native.
    • Easy care regimen, no need to deadhead to encourage rebloom.
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    All the dramatic pinky-purple color your heart could want in a hydrangea, but in a useful little package. Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® smooth hydrangea has transformed the world of smooth hydrangeas! It packs vibrant, unforgettable color into big mophead flowers, all on a petite habit. (A maximum of 3 feet tall and wide!) Now you can grow smooth hydrangeas at the front of the border, just like the stars they are. And since it readily reblooms, you can enjoy this color all summer long and well into fall! No deadheading, no fancy fertilizer regimens, just a reliable little native delivering constant color.

    Why grow Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® smooth hydrangea?

    • Dramatic coloring, uncommon for smooth hydrangeas.
    • Versatile compact size.
    • Easy care native that makes gardening a breeze.
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  • INVINCIBELLE® Ruby Smooth Hydrangea

    A captivating two-toned color show for the middle of the border! Invincibelle Ruby has dark burgundy flower buds that open to a two-toned combination of ruby red and silvery pink petals, each bloom has beautiful depth and lends a sense of delicate intricacy to any garden. It will rebloom throughout the summertime, creating a dynamic array of dark buds, cheery fresh blooms, and soft pink mature coloring. Due to its ability to bloom on new wood, all the anxiety is taken out of growing hydrangeas! There’s no need to cover these for the wintertime and with a light prune in the early spring, you’ll be all set to see it stand up in your garden through heavy rains and strong winds.

    Why grow Invincibelle Ruby smooth hydrangea?

    • So versatile, can be used in mixed gardens, as a hedge, foundation plantings, etc.
    • Very easy care, its ability to flower on new wood takes the stress away from pruning.
    • Unique coloring is great for the garden and cut flower displays.
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  • INVINCIBELLE WEE WHITE® Smooth Hydrangea

    Invincibelle Wee White® smooth hydrangea doesn’t just do everything ‘Annabelle’ does, it does it better. It has stronger stems, a smaller habit, and it’s more floriferous. You’ll love its useful compact frame, growing just 1-2.5 feet tall and wide, you’ll be able to put it just about anywhere. Its best placement is near high-traffic areas though, so its summer-long output of fresh blooms can be easily enjoyed. It’s lovely at the front of the border as edging or a low hedge, looks precious potted up, and is at home in mixed beds with perennials.

    Why grow Invincibelle Wee White® smooth hydrangea?

    • Looks so perfect you might think it’s a fake plant.
    • Blooms for the entire summer and into fall.
    • A really tough native plant, it can thrive in heat and clay soil!
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Frequently Asked Questions

Look for these hydrangeas in the distinctive white container at a garden center near you.
Quick Fire Fab hydrangea in a pot

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Gardening Simplified magazine
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