The white flower clusters of this summer-blooming shrub add a fresh note of color to the landscape. Native to China and Japan, panicled hydrangea is one of the more cold-hardy species of hydrangea. It blooms on branches that grow in the current season, so even a harsh winter does not stop the flower show. The flowers are held upright on sturdy stems and contrast nicely with the green foliage. It ranges in size, from dwarf, 2 to 3 feet high all the way to tree-like 15 to 20 feet, depending upon the cultivar.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Mixed border,
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
- Small shrub (3-5 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Fragrant flowers,
- Showy flowers
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid summer,
- Late summer,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size and Form
10 to 20 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide; irregular, upright form.
Many smaller cultivars work well in smaller landscapes.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun to part shade in moist, organically rich, well-drained soil. Avoid extremely dry sites.
Plants are shallow-rooted; mulch to keep roots cool.
Prune in late winter or early spring for shape and to encourage vigorous growth and larger flowers.
Will produce flowers on wood produced in the current year.
Tolerant of aerial salt spray.
Disease, pests and problems
No serious problems.
Chlorosis can occur on alkaline soils.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to China, Japan and Siberia.
Attracts birds and butterflies
Attracts monarch butterflies.
Bark color and texture
Older bark has a handsome gray-brown, ridged and furrowed look.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, opposite, dark green, oval leaves; 3 to 6 inches long with toothed margins.
Fall color is late in season so color change is mild; green with a little yellow, yellow-orange, or purple mixed in.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Showy, long-pointed, panicle-type flower clusters bloom in midsummer and last into fall, opening white, gradually changing to pink and then brown. Mild fruity fragrance. Dried clusters can last all winter.
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
Grandiflora panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora'): A very large shrub, 10 to 20 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide. White flowers are densely packed into rounded clusters that can be so heavy they weigh down branches. Prune and thin plant periodically to 5 to 10 primary shoots. An old-fashioned cultivar often referred to as the PeeGee hydrangea (for the initials of paniculata 'Grandiflora'). PeeGee is often used to refer to the species, but it actually refers only to this cultivar.
Limelight panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'): Mounded form, more compact than species, 6 to 8 feet high and wide. In July, creamy white rounded flower clusters, up to 8 inches across, emerge on strong, upright stems. As flower clusters mature, their color changes from creamy white to lime-green, rosy pink in fall and tan in winter. Medium-green leaves turn various shades of red in fall.
Little Lime™ panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Jane'): A smaller form of Limelight hydrangea, reaching 3 to 5 feet high with the same beautiful creamy white flowers changing to lime-green in mid-summer. then shades of red in the fall.
Little Lamb panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Little Lamb'): A compact variety, 4 to 6 feet high and wide. Dense, cone-shaped white clusters of flowers on red twigs appear on upright to arching, stiff stems.
Pee Wee panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Pee Wee'): A smaller version of 'Grandiflora', 6 to 8 feet high and wide. One of first panicled hydrangeas to flower, in late June. Flower clusters are 6 inches long, whitish-green, conical. Medium green leaves change to reddish purple in fall.
Pink Diamond panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Pink Diamond'): Upright to rounded shrub, 10 to 15 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide. Large (8 to 12 inch), cone-shaped flower clusters open in mid- to late summer as creamy-white and then gradually change, starting from the base of the panicle, to a showy dark pink.
Pinky Winky™ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'DVP Pinky'): Compact plant, 6 to 8 feet high and wide, has large cone-shaped flower clusters that open white and then change pink from the base, producing a two-tone effect.
Praecox panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Praecox'): Large rounded shrub, 10 to 15 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide, is one of the earliest to bloom. Six inch long, whitish-green conical flower clusters appear on stout stems in late June.
Quick Fire™ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Bulk'): Compact, mounded variety, 6 to 8 feet high and wide; long-blooming, with conical white flower clusters that change from white to a deep rich pink. Dark green foliage. Flowers earlier than other cultivars.
Tardiva panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva'): One of the last hydrangeas to bloom. Large, upright shrub, 10 to 15 feet high and wide, blooms late, in August and September, with showy, white flowers that turn purplish-pink with age. Fast growing.
Unique (Hydrangea paniculata 'Unique'): Relatively compact variety, 6 to 10 feet high and wide, has large, creamy-white conical-shaped flower heads on strong stems starting in July.
Vanilla Strawberry™ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Renhy'): An upright shrub with cascading branches and large, 7-inch clusters of white flowers that fade to strawberry-red in late summer. Showy blooms last 3-4 weeks before turning brown.
White Diamonds™ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'HYPMADI'): Compact hybrid of 'Pink Diamond' good for small shade gardens. Upright, vase-shaped, 5 to 6 feet high and wide. White flower clusters on upright stems that fade to brown. Leathery dark green summer foliage turns a yellow fall color.