TREES & plants

Mountain hydrangea

Mountain hydrangea, a small shrub from the mountains of Korea and Japan has lacecap flower clusters, usually pink, in summer, and slender green leaves. It does well in part shade and is small enough to be used in containers. The green leaves often turn red or burgundy in autumn.  May not be fully hardy in zone 5.



Botanical name: 
Hydrangea serrata
All Common Names: 
Mountain hydrangea
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Mixed border
  • Container
Size Range: 
  • Small shrub (3-5 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid summer
  • Late summer
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Blue
  • Pink
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Mounded
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
More Information: 

Size and Form

3 to 4 feet high and wide, mounded form.

Tree & Plant Care

Needs moist, well-drained soil, high in organic matter.
Best in part shade. 
Flowers on old wood, so flower buds are vulnerable to harsh winters.
Benefits from winter protection in colder climates (may not be fully hardy in zone 5).

Disease, pests and problems

No serious problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to mountain areas in Japan.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite, oval leaves; 2 to 6 inches long with a finely toothed margin.
Dark green in summer; some red coloration in fall (better on some cultivars).

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small flowers in a lacecap arrangement; flowers will be pink in alkaline soil and blue in acid soil.  Some cultivars have white or pale blue flowers, but these may not be readily available in the nursery trade.

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 

Blue Bird (Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Bird'): Bluish-pink lacecap flower clusters in alkaline soil, becoming more blue in acid soil; coarsely toothed, dark green, 8 inch long leaves turn reddish-bronze in fall.

Woodlander (Hydrangea serrata 'Woodlander'): Bluish-pink lacecap flower clusters in alkaline soil, becoming more blue in acid soil; medium-green leaves, with a purplish cast, turning purplish-red in the fall.


Related hybrid


Preziosa (Hydrangea 'Preziosa'): 3 to 4 feet high and wide; snowball-like flowers begin white to pale green, then pink and mature through the season to an intense darker burgundy color. Leaves emerge tinted with purple and mature to green and then back to red and purple hues in the fall. Reddish stems add contrast to changing leaves.