Hydrangea are a summer flowering shrub, usually deciduous with large showy flowers.
Hydrangea are easy to grow and require only minimal pruning, which makes them a low maintenance shrub. They are not fussy about soil types and conditions and some, particularly the climbing Hydrangea, will grow in shade. Most Hydrangea are large shrubs from 1.5m - 3m (3-10ft) and so need a fair amount of growing space.
Hydrangea make great border plants and are grown for their lovely showy flower heads, predominately flowering pink, mauve, blue, cream and white. Hydrangea will grow in most soils including chalk, with a preference for sun but Hydrangea will also tolerate partial shade. In some varieties the flower colour can be affected and changed by the pH of the soil; whether the soil is acid or alkaline. Growing in an acid soil some Hydrangea flowers blue and in alkaline pink; the white flowers are unaffected.
Hydrangea are a woodland plant with a preference for moist but well-drained soil in sun or semishade. As a woodland plant, they are best planted with some shade and in a position which avoids full afternoon sun. Hydrangea will thrive in the cooler part of the garden. As always, it is a question of the right plant right place, which means avoid planting where there is hot afternoon sun or cold easterly winds. Generally Hydrangea is tolerant of most growing conditions.
There is a very attractive climbing form of Hydrangea, H. petiorlaris which will tolerate a high degree of shade and can be useful to grow up a shady wall. This really is a lovely climber, relatively fast growing and so tending to be vigorous but with beautiful flowers in the spring. I have seen grown to great effect on a large semi shaded wall where it can be left to grow unchecked and form a mass of white flowers in the spring. It is self-supporting but needs a reasonably large space.
There are also some varieties of Hydrangea which have scented blooms, such as Hydrangea paniculata 'Wim's Red' and also some compact varieties H. panciulata Little lime ('Jane') and Hydrangea with beautiful delicate colours such as pink turning to white as in Hydrangea paniculata Vanille Fraise ('Renhy')
The range of Hydrangea is wide and varied and quite a few are illustrated below and also on Pinterest board
Hydrangea macrophylla come in two forms: 'Lacecaps' see illustrated below a lovely delicate bloom, and 'Hortensias (mop head ) with rounder flower heads.
When selecting a Hydrangea for the garden many grow to around 3m, such as H.Paniculata 'Unique', Serrata the popular ''Blue bird' smaller around 1.2m and there are many Macrophylla varieties around 1.5m. a useful size for most gardens.