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TREES & Plants

Silver-leaved Hydrangea

Silver-leaved hydrangea is an attractive shrub native to Appalachia. It has lace-cap clusters of flowers in early summer that emerge green and change to white. Its distinctive characteristic in the silvery underside of its leaves. Silver-leaved hydrangea is somewhat sensitive to drought, so it needs a site with moist soil.  The plant pictured here is the cultivar 'Samantha'.

Botanical name: 
Hydrangea radiata
All Common Names: 
Silver-leaved hydrangea
Family (English): 
Hydrangea
Family (Botanic): 
Hydrangeaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (foliage falls off)
Native Locale: 
  • North America
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
  • Zone 9
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
Light Exposure: 
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial shade (4-6 hrs indirect light daily)
Tolerances: 
  • Clay soil
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Size Range: 
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Mounded
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Foundation
  • Mixed border
Time of Year: 
  • Mid summer
  • Late summer
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
  • Late fall
More Information: 

Size and Form

4 to 6 feet high and wide; mounded form

Tree & Plant Care

Best in moist, well-drained acid soils and light shade

Disease, pests and problems

No serious problems

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Appalachia

Bark color and texture 

Smooth, shiny gray-brown

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite, green leaves with silvery undersides; 2 to 8 inches long with toothed edges.

Silver-leaved hydrangea (Hydrangea radiata)Silver-leaved hydrangea (Hydrangea radiata), 'Samantha'photo: John Hagstrom

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Large clusters of white flowers in a lace-cap arrangement

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 

Samantha (Hydrangea radiata 'Samantha'):  The flowers are in a snowball-type cluster, instead of a lace-cap.