Hydrangeas can generally be broken down into two main groups: mopheads and lacecaps. Each group contains a gorgeous assortment of species and varieties. We’ll discuss some of our favorites and give you ideas about how you can use them in your garden. We’ll also show you some other great selections in the hydrangea clan, including oakleaf, paniculata, and climbing hydrangea so you can pick the best ones for you, and give you tips on how to care for hydrangeas, too.
Mophead hydrangeas offer big dome-shape clusters of flowers in blue, pink, or white. Most mopheads bloom in late spring or early summer but make their flower buds the year before you see them. As you care for this type of hydrangea, know that it is best to prune them is in early summer, right after the flowers fade.
Most mopheads grow best in a spot with moist, well-drained soil and a bit of afternoon shade.
One of the showiest mophead hydrangeas you can grow, Big Daddy Hydrangea macrophyllafeatures huge (14 inch-wide) clusters of blue or pink blooms. The long-lasting flowers are great for cutting because they have strong stems. It grows 6 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9
One note: Because the flowers are so large, the stems can flop if you grow the plant in extra-rich soil or too much shade.
A relatively new mophead variety, Pink ShiraHydrangea macrophylla is a favorite for its strong stems, compact habit, and long-lasting blooms. Its flowers start out a lovely shade of lime green then turn pink or lavender (this one doesn’t go blue. It grows 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Zones 5-9
Cityline Paris Hydrangea macrophylla is another recent mophead introduction that stands out because of its upright stems and compact habit. It features bright fuchsia-pink flowers that last a long time then fade to a lovely shade of green in summer. It grows 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 5-9
A sister to Cityline Paris, Cityline BerlinHydrangea macrophylla offers larger flowers on the same tight habit and strong stems. The flowers on this mophead aren’t as brightly colored as its sister, but they last just as long. It grows 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. 5-9
Black-stem hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nigra’) has beautiful mophead flowers, but as its name suggests, the stems are what stand out. They are a dark purple-black color that contrasts against the green foliage and pastel blue or pink blooms. It grows 6 feet tall and wide. Zones 6-9
Sun Goddess Hydrangea
Flowers aren’t the only reason to grow hydrangeas; some have stunning foliage, as well. Sun Goddess Hydrangea macrophylla is one great example; this mophead features bright golden-green foliage that lights up the shade garden. Sun Goddess grows 5 feet tall and wide. Zones 6-9 Other hydrangeas that feature golden foliage include Lemon Daddy and ‘Lemon Zest’.
Lacecap hydrangeas give the garden a more delicate look. Instead of producing a one big rounded cluster of showy florets, they form a flower head composed of a ring of colorful florets surrounding a lacy cluster of small florets. Lacecap hydrangeas have similar cultural needs as their mophead cousins, mainly differing in flower form.
Bits of Lace
Bits of Lace Hydrangea macrophylla features lacecaps of large white florets that are strongly blushed with pink. The large florets surround a lacy group of smaller pink ones. This selection also offers sturdy stems and dark green foliage. As you learn how to care for hydrangeas, make sure to understand theirhardiness zone restrictions. This one grows 5 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9
Considered one of best lacecaps, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lanarth White’ shows off large clusters of white florets faintly blushed with blue or pink. Its stiff stems keep the spectacular flowers standing upright. It grows 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9
Rough-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea villosa) is a favorite of gardeners in areas of the South and Northwest and is a little more exotic-looking than your average lacecap. It features long, narrow, hairy foliage and blooms in late summer and fall. It’s also much larger, growing to 12 feet tall and wide. Zones 7-9