Asked May 15, 2020, 1:04 PM EDT

Is there a variety of hydrangea that would be ok to plant in the front of my home that faces north?

Genesee County Michigan

1 Response

Hydrangea Site Selection and Planting - Light

Hydrangeas are woodland plants so most species need some shade even if labeled as full sun. The amount of shade required will vary depending on soil quality and water availability. Many cultivars are listed as a full sun to partial shade, including oakleaf and panicle types. Bigleaf cultivars require moderate shade due to their high water requirements.

In the garden, most cultivars grown in full sun will have flowers that fade to brown more quickly with drooping leaves during the hottest part of the day. Increased watering can decrease the effects of the full sun. On the other hand, the dense shade will result in reduced foliage and smaller flowers on some cultivars.

The morning sun with shade in the afternoon is ideal for smooth, oakleaf, climbing, and panicle types. These species tolerate sunnier areas if proper soil and moisture conditions are maintained. Bigleaf hydrangeas require more shade, especially in the heat of the day.

The amount of sunlight received is a predictor of water use by certain hydrangeas (Fulcher, et al., 2017) and affects flower longevity on certain cultivars. For example, when researching Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanilla Strawberry’ in two sites in Canfield, Ohio, interesting differences were noted. When planted in full sun, the blooms of this plant are vibrant for 3–4 weeks, then fade to brown. When planted in partial shade, these flowers are vibrant for six or more weeks, with blooms fading to dark pink, and even further with tinges of purple in late September and early October. Thus, the low exposure to sunlight in the shade impacts flower life and allows the unique attributes of the aged flowers to be expressed. Many other hydrangea cultivars in the research site had flowers that aged to a lime green color, but these turned brown in areas of full sun.

If planting hydrangeas near evergreen species, be sure to plant away from the roots or drip line. Many evergreens have shallow root systems that compete with hydrangeas for water.


Check out Site Selection and Planting - Light section of the below article (Ohio has similar Plant Zones as Michigan):

Selecting Hydrangeas for the Home Landscape - Eric Barrett, Assistant Professor, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State Univ -Mahoning County at this link: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1263