Hydrangeas are generally known to be shade-loving, but in fact most species bloom best in light penumbra. In this article you will find out which hydrangeas also feel comfortable in the deep shade or in the blazing sun.

The ideal location for hydrangeas

Hydrangeas (Hydrangea) are popular flowering shrubs that you can cultivate both outdoors and in containers. The woody subshrubs or shrubs originally come from East Asia, where they occur in various types as undergrowth in the extensive, damp forests. For this reason, our numerous cultivars – most of which are hybrids, especially garden or farmer’s hydrangeas – also prefer a slightly shady place in the protection of taller trees or shrubs.

Protect from sun and heat

The ideal location for hydrangeas in the garden is on a protective hedge or under taller trees. Here, their shadow should protect the hydrangeas, especially from too intense exposure to the midday sun. However, it shouldn’t be too dark either. A partially shaded location with a few hours of morning or afternoon sun is perfect.

What you need to pay special attention to when choosing a location for hydrangeas:

  • no blazing sun
  • generally avoid dry and hot locations
  • no deep shadow
  • light penumbra without midday sun is ideal
  • no draft, sheltered from the wind
  • Wind shadow in the form of denser, larger trees or a wall

Garden hydrangeas and plate hydrangeas in particular are very sensitive to heat (and the drought that often accompanies it) and therefore need a semi-shady place with a rather fresh to moist substrate. Both species are also quite sensitive to wind and cold, which is why they feel particularly comfortable protected from a hedge or wall.

Suitable herbal companions

When choosing trees that provide shade, it is best to choose species with root systems that are insensitive to root pressure. Trees with an umbrella-like crown are particularly well suited, as well as species such as the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), the flower dogwood (Cornus kousa or Cornus florida) and the various types and varieties of Japanese maple (e.g. Japanese maple, Acer palmatum).

Note: Hydrangeas freeze back quickly in frosty winters. The plants don’t mind. You cut back the trees in the spring, they will sprout again.

Hydrangea species for the sun

In principle, you can plant all hydrangea species in the sun, provided the soil there is sufficiently moist (water frequently if necessary) and the heat does not accumulate. However, this requires a lot of maintenance and is therefore not recommended. However, you do not have to consider a change of location immediately if you have a very sunny garden. There are also suitable hydrangea species for sunny areas, with the species described below being less sensitive to heat and drought.

Rispenhortensie (Hydrangea paniculata)

  • upright, strongly branched shrub
  • up to four meters high and three meters wide
  • large panicles with numerous individual flowers
  • Flowering time between July and September
  • sunny location with moist soil
  • Soil acidic to neutral
  • tolerates shorter drying times
  • no waterlogging
Tip: The popular ‘Grandiflora’ variety has particularly large flowers.

Oak-Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

  • also oak leaf hydrangea
  • comes from North America
  • large leaves reminiscent of oak leaves
  • Height of growth one to two meters
  • long flowering period between June and August
  • feels good in full sun, but also in partial shade and even in the shade
  • prefers moist, calcareous or slightly acidic and nutrient-rich soil
  • does not tolerate drought
  • Avoid waterlogging
Tip: The darker the flower color of a hydrangea variety, the better it will do in a sunny location. Varieties with very light flowers, on the other hand, are better planted in partial shade.

Hydrangea species for the shade

Many garden owners, especially if it is only a small garden, only have shaded areas outdoors or want to plant a hydrangea bush in a bucket on the dark balcony or next to the front door, which is also in the shade. In principle, the light-flowering varieties of garden hydrangeas are particularly well suited for this purpose, since white or cream-colored varieties are quite sensitive in terms of their sun tolerance. The oak leaf hydrangeas already presented can also be put in the shade, they are considered undemanding.

Furthermore, these two hydrangea species are mainly recommended for dark locations in the garden:

Snowball hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

  • also known as ball hydrangea or forest hydrangea
  • Wild form comes from the American Appalachian Mountains
  • grows up to three meters high
  • large panicles of flowers up to 25 centimeters long
  • Flowering time between the end of June and September
  • partially shaded to fully shaded location
  • moist, lime-poor soil
  • pH between 5.5 and 6

Kletterhortensie (Hydrangea petiolaris)

  • very vigorous climbing plant
  • reaches heights of up to 15 meters
  • needs climbing help, without this it grows as a hemispherical shrub
  • large, creamy-white, plate-shaped flowers between May and July
  • ideal for partial shade to shade
  • loves cool and damp locations
  • sensitive to lime
Note: All hydrangea species other than those mentioned (especially velvet hydrangea, plate hydrangea) are quite sensitive to shady locations and will bloom less intensively there or even stop blooming altogether.

frequently asked Questions

If it is too dark for hydrangeas, they will bloom little or not at all. In this case, a change of location to a brighter location makes sense. If, on the other hand, it is too sunny for the plants, the color of the flowers and the color of the leaves will be pale. The whole plant also appears limp, the leaves hang down, especially when it is dry at the same time. Here you don’t have to transplant them straight away, but water them much more often and provide shade at midday.

Both outdoor hydrangeas and specimens cultivated in tubs need humus and nutrient-rich, loose and moist soil, which should be as low in lime as possible and have a slightly acidic pH value. Mulch the plants with a thick layer of bark humus or bark mulch, as both ensure the desired pH level and retain the important moisture in the soil. Rhododendron soil is very suitable for potted plants.

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