Deinanthe caerulea
Common Name: false hydrangea 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Violet blue
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy


Best grown in peaty, fertile, humus-rich, well-drained but consistently moist soils in light shade. Tolerates full shade. Avoid full sun. Performs best in cool summer climates. Intolerant of drought. Site in locations protected from strong winds. Propagate by root division or seed (plants in cultivation often produce few seeds however).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Deinanthe caerulea, sometimes commonly called false hydrangea, is an herbaceous perennial of the Saxifrage family which typically grows to 12-18” tall with a spread to 24-30” wide. It is native to cool moist shady woodland areas in China (Hubei). It was first identified in the wild in the early 20th century by Ernest Henry Wilson (“Chinese” Wilson) (1876-1930).

Erect stems rise from woody rhizomes to 18” tall. Large hydrangea-type leaves (usually 4) are crowded at the stem apex. Leaves (to 6-8” long) are stalked, crinkled, rough-textured, broad ovate to elliptic and medium to dark green, with dentate margins, prominent veins and pointed tips. Nodding, cup-shaped, violet-blue, fertile flowers (to 1 1/4” wide) bloom in few-flowered terminal clusters (corymbose cymes) above the foliage in June-July. The petals of each flower curl around a decorative central boss of light violet stamens. Sterile flowers (to 1/2” across) are smaller and not showy.

This species primarily differs from D. bifida by having violet blue flowers and unlobed leaf tips.

Although related to hydrangea, Deinanthe is an herbaceous perennial whereas Hydrangea is a woody shrub or vine.

Genus name comes from the Greek words deinos meaning wondrous and anthe meaning flower in reference to the flowers.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word caeruleus meaning dark blue in obvious reference to flower color.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Shady woodland areas. Woodland garden. Rock garden.