Hydrangea Vine

Hydrangea anomala petiolaris

Description & Overview

Hydrangea Vine is one of the best flowering vines for shady areas. It produces clusters of aromatic, 6-10” flat-top white flowers in summer. Stems are a dark cinnamon-brown color with exfoliating bark that splits and peels. Fruit capsules remain throughout winter to provide seasonal interest.

Unlike smaller vines like clematis, Hydrangea Vine grows to gigantic proportions and may require stronger supports. And unlike smaller vines which twine around it’s structure, this beast attaches itself with holdfast rootlets called advantageous roots. Typically, it doesn’t cause damage to the structures that it grows on, but you need to consider your site before growing this gentle giant.

You may notice many of our pictures show Hydrangea Vine growing on brick structures like houses, chimneys and walls.

Core Characteristics

Mature Height: 40′
Mature Spread: Varies
Growth Rate: Slow
Growth Form: Vine
Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Site Requirements: Average
Flower: White, fragrant
Bloom Period: Summer
Foliage: Glossy dark green
Fall Color: Yellow
Fruit Notes: Drupe

Suggested Uses:

  • Masonry & Wood (as a true clinging vine, it can adhere to and climb on brick, cement, and large wood structures
  • Border (through medium sized shrubs to act as groundcover),
  • Container gardens (again, to act as groundcover or keep the vine contained),
  • Cut flower garden (flowers are beautiful and make nice additions to any bouquet),
  • Espalier (there is not much depth in the z-direction but it grows full in the x and y directions),
  • Ground cover (for areas where grass can be out of the question or some color is wanted); just don’t trellis it. Even in shady areas!
  • Privacy screen (adds beauty and density to a fence or trellis),
  • Specimen (showy flowers are enough to attract anyone’s attention and create a focal point in any garden),
  • Urban garden (similar reasoning as espalier, this vine does not take up as much space and can tolerate limited horizontal area as long as there is room for vertical growth),
  • Woodland garden (while not a native, some species can still make a nice addition or climb tree trunks if the garden is near the woods)

Uses advantageous roots to adhere itself to its structure.

Wildlife Value:

Flowers are attractive to butterflies.

Maintenance Tips:

Prune spent blooms after they are done flowering in the summer to encourage repeating blooming and lush new growth. This massive vine tolerates pruning to shorter heights when necessary.

Hydrangea Vines growing/flowering on the side of our HQ in Menomonee Falls.

The same Hydrangea Vines with winter interest buds and spent flowers.


Susceptible to wilt/stem rot (can be fatal), powdery mildew, leaf spots, rust, and viruses. Potential insect pests include aphids, vine weevils, slugs, snails, scale, and earwigs. Watch for spider mites. Remove branches that may rub against each other, as this creates entry points for insects and disease.

Leaf Lore:

Hydrangea vine is native to the woodlands of Japan, the Korean peninsula, and on the Sakhalin Island. It commonly doesn’t bloom until it’s three to five years old. While there are no known medicinal values, the Chinese did use the vine as a sweetener or condiment. By cooking the leaves, they achieved a cucumber-like taste and boiled leaves made a syrup. The sweet sap was used to create a tea-like drink.

The genus name Hydrangea comes from the words ‘hydro’ and ‘aggeion’ meaning water vessel. This is a reference to the cup-like fruit. The Greek word anomalas references the vine-like characteristics of this plant.

Companion Plants:

Begonia, Geranium, Ornamental Grass, Barberry, Juniper, Euonymus, Coral Bells, Hosta, Spreading Yew, Boxwood.

  • Begonia (we don’t sell but the foliage is similar and provides contrasting colors),
  • Geranium (contrasting colors but similar flower shape),
  • Ornamental Grass (keeps the roots in the shade and hides the scraggly bits at the bottom),
  • Juniper (adds four season interest and low-growing junipers have the some of the same benefits as the grasses),
  • Euonymus (same benefits as Junipers),
  • Coral Bells (add contrasting color and keep roots in the shade),
  • Hosta (keep roots in the shade),
  • Spreading Yew (keep roots in the shade, four season interest),
  • Boxwood (keep roots in the shade, four season interest)

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