Hydrangeas for St. Louis

by Anne Kirkpatrick

With so many species of hydrangeas and so many cultivars, the variety available to gardeners can be somewhat daunting. This list includes hydrangeas favored by local enthusiasts which have been successfully grown in our climate zone.  


Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris
climbing hydrangea
Vine

Can be grown as a vine or widely spreading shrub. Great for shady areas. One of the few vines that will flower in low light situations. It will flower on north or east side of structures or under deciduous trees. Extra bonus - flowers are fragrant!

Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Height: 30 - 50 feet

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
smooth hydrangea
Deciduous shrub

One of the most popular varieties used in this region. Easily found at local nurseries. The extravagant flowers are described by a local Master Gardener / author as “bodacious.” A naturally occurring cultivar that was first discovered near Anna, IL, some 140 miles southeast of St. Louis.

Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 3 - 5 feet
   

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nikko Blue'
bigleaf hydrangea

Deciduous shrub

Most reliable of the blue-flowered hydrangeas. Blooms earlier than many other choices and is a reliable producer of blue color in a wider range of soil types. May need winter protection in exposed locations. Readily available.

Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 4 - 6 feet

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Tokyo Delight'
bigleaf hydrangea
Deciduous shrub

Features long-blooming summer flowers. The lacecap flowers are flattened airy-looking clusters with the larger white florets encircling clusters of smaller pink florets that darken gradually to pink, then to burgundy.

Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 3 - 6 feet

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'
panicle hydrangea
Deciduous shrub

Cold hardy as far north as Minneapolis, MN! Large, dense flower clusters change from creamy white to vivid chartreuse to pink to rose to beige. Quite a show!

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 6 - 8 feet

Hydrangea paniculata 'Little Lamb'
panicle hydrangea
Deciduous shrub

Does well in sunnier parts of the garden and requires a bit less water than some other varieties. Fluffy white flower clusters look like this cultivar’s name. Blooms on new growth so flower production occurs in spite of late spring frost.

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 6 - 8 feet

Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva'
panicle hydrangea
Deciduous shrub

If you are looking for a rapid grower that gets large in a hurry, this is your plant! One of the last shrubs to bloom with flowers lasting into September. Clusters age to a purplish pink.

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 8 - 12 feet

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice'
oakleaf hydrangea
Deciduous shrub

Creamy white flowers appear in June and last until August, fading to pink, then brown. Oak leaf shaped leaves turn bronze, purple and maroon in autumn adding another dimension to its value in landscape. Exfoliating bark adds visual interest during winter months.

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 5 - 8 feet

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Pee Wee'
oakleaf hydrangea
Deciduous shrub

Has all the attractive features of ‘Alice’ but takes up much less space. For a smaller garden, ‘Pee Wee’ is a standout with its summer flowers. Exhibits colorful fall color and exfoliating bark of its larger cousins.

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 3 - 4 feet

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Brido' SNOW FLAKE
oakleaf hydrangea
Deciduous shrub

Double-flowered look makes this specimen an eye-catcher. Creamy white flowers hold and age gracefully, shading to pink then brown in late summer. Leaves turn shades of maroon and purple in autumn.

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 5 - 8 feet

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Dooley'
bigleaf hydrangea
Deciduous shrub

This is a bonus hydrangea to keep your eye on as it may well be a real winner also! It has proven reliably cold hardy here so far. Flowers provide long lasting color in summer. Blooms are blue in acid soil and more pinkish in alkaline soil. Named for the legendary coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, Vince Dooley.

Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 3 - 4 feet