TREES & plants

Silver-leaved Hydrangea

Silver-leaved hydrangea is an attractive shrub native to Appalachia. It has lacecap clusters of flowers in early summer that 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'.

Botanical name: 
Hydrangea radiata
All Common Names: 
Silver-leaved hydrangea
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
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
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
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.

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 lacecap 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 lacecap.