Silver-leaved Hydrangea

Silver-leaved hydrangea, cultivar 'Samantha'.

Silver-leaved hydrangea is an attractive shrub native to Appalachia. It's lacecap clusters of flowers in early summer emerge green and change to white. Its distinctive characteristic is 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'.

May be difficult to find in nurseries.


Botanical name:

Hydrangea radiata

All Common Names:

Silver-leaved hydrangea

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Specimen,
  • Massing,
  • Foundation,
  • Mixed border

Size Range:

  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil

Season of Interest:

  • Mid summer,
  • Late summer,
  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall,
  • Late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Mounded

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Form

4 to 6 feet high and wide; mounded form.
It is similar to the smooth hydrangea (H. arborescens), but the silverleaf hydrangea has a more impressive flower display. 

Tree & Plant Care

Prefers full sun to light shade in average to moist, well-drained soil.
If pruning is necessary it can be done right after flowering or they may be cut back in late winter.
Mulch to help maintain soil moisture. 

Disease, pests and problems

No serious problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to mountainous areas of NC, SC, GA, and TN. 
Found in rich woods, rocky slopes and stream banks.

Bark color and texture 

Smooth, shiny gray-brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite, green leaves; 2 to 8 inches long with toothed edges.
Lower leaf surface is densely covered with felt-like hairs, appearing bright white or silver giving the plant its common name.   

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Large clusters of creamy white, flat-topped flower clusters on the ends of its branches. 

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

The fruit is a dry capsule, 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 lacecap.

culitvar 'Samantha'

Location of Hydrangea radiata (Silver-leaved Hydrangea) at the Arboretum