Climbing Hydrangea



A Quick Guide to Climbing Hydrangea


Climbing hydrangea (also known as Hydrangea anomala subspecies petiolaris) is a stunning plant. This flowering vine, native to the central coastal regions of Asia (mainly in countries such as Japan, China and Korea), is uniquely characterized by the way it looks and grows. Its versatility makes it both an excellent ground cover and/or an ornate vertical accent for your lush garden. This article will provide you with the necessary tools to find, care for, and encourage the healthy growth of this unique plant.


Quite distinctive in its appearance, climbing hydrangea can easily be identified.  Its vines and branches are dark cinnamon or reddish brown colored vines. The leaves are dark green, glossy, and uniquely heart shaped. When in bloom, the clusters of lace capped, white flowers and buds make this plant easy to spot. Beautiful whether in bloom or not, climbing hydrangea has become an increasing favorite of gardening fans worldwide.


Most climbing hydrangeas can be purchased at local nurseries where Asian plants are sold. The larger/more mature that the plant is when chosen the better the chances it will have of thriving. When planting your climbing hydrangea plant, first decide whether you want it to grow vertically or as ground cover. Choose a well shaded area. Hydrangeas like the sun, but like the shade more. These plants are very easy to care for if you’ve done your research and give them a strong beginning. A simple all purpose fertilizer should be applied to the ground before planting. Choose a location where the water drains properly because too much water may damage the baby vines. It may take a year or two before you see blooms on your hydrangea. They will appear eventually. Either way, with or without blooms, the heart shaped leaves are ornamental and will draw attention.


If chosen to be grown vertically, trees, stakes, lattices or similar structures should be provided for the climbing hydrangea to twist and curve around. Gardeners have found that allowing the vines to climb directly against buildings can compromise the structure of a home with wood siding or can damage the strength of a home with stucco siding. Because climbing hydrangea clings to surfaces with tiny roots all over the vine, it’s best to provide a climbing structure that is placed at least 6-8 inches away from your home. Providing your plant with an alternate structure to climb will also aid the well being of the climbing hydrangea if it ever needs to be moved or cared for in a different location.


Some gardeners may choose to wrap twine around the structures such as trees, lampposts, and fences before planting the hydrangea seedlings. Then as they begin to grow gardeners can gently guide the climbing hydrangea vine to wrap around the twine in the predetermined pattern.  This technique can add both vine fullness and style to your gardening décor. As one begins to become accustomed to working with vine plants, they can branch out to other patterns and designs with the twine. Vertical climbing hydrangea can grow up to heights as tall as 50 to 80 feet if it’s being supported by a large structure such as a large tree.


If choosing to plant your climbing hydrangea as a ground cover, make sure there are plenty of space and little to no structures nearby for it to climb.  Encourage the vines to follow a pattern, and guide them in the direction you want them to cover.  If not directed properly, climbing hydrangea will have a mind of its own and grow in whatever direction it wants. Before planting the hydrangea, make sure a well defined plant bed has been created. Keep an eye on the climbing hydrangea frequently to make sure it’s staying contained. If it’s not, simply redirect it accordingly. It will adapt.


When choosing to purchase a climbing hydrangea, know the facts about this gorgeous plant, care for it properly, and guide it in the direction you want it to go. You will see positive results immediately and will be pleased with the purchase of this unique flowering vine.