TREES & plants

Climbing hydrangea

Climbing hydrangea is a handsome woody vine that clings and climbs by attaching itself with tiny rootlets to a wall, trellis, or other support.  In early July, it has flat, lacy clusters of fragrant small white flowers that show up well against the glossy green leaves. The horizontal branching pattern can create interesting, sculptural effects against a wall, and the cinnamon-brown bark on older stems peels to create an interesting texture that is attractive in winter. Over the course of years, it may reach 30 to 80 feet in length. This vine can also be used as a ground cover in shady areas.


Botanical name: 
Hydrangea petiolaris
All Common Names: 
Climbing hydrangea
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Vine
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Screen
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid summer
  • Late summer
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant
  • White
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
More Information: 


A vine that can grow 30 to 80 feet long.

Tree & Plant Care

Needs moist, well-drained soil.
Full sun to full shade.
Blooms on old wood. Buds can be damaged by late frosts.
Will grow slowly in the first 3 to 5 years.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Japan, Korea and Siberia.

Bark color and texture 

Stems are dark brown with bark that splits and peels.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite, broadly oval leaves; 2 to 4 inches long with toothed margins.
Leaves dark green in summer, changing to a clear yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Large, lacecap-type clusters of small white flowers; fragrant.

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 them do provide winter interest.

Cultivars and their differences 

Miranda (Hydrangea petiolaris 'Miranda'):  Variegated form that features serrate, heart-shaped, dark green leaves with yellow margins (can revert to green in summer heat); very little fall color.