Landscape Spotlight: Climbing Hydrangea, ‘Hydrangea anomala ssp. Petiolaris’

Posted April 26, 2018 in Landscape Design, Plant and Tree

MasterPLAN loves to educate our audience with articles on everything from tips, tricks, design, materials, and even the outdoor what/when/where and why, but one topic we love to showcase is our Landscape Spotlight.  We love to cultivate specific interest in the beautiful landscaping that soften and enhance our properties which create that added extra enjoyment.  Profiling a plant each month may solve problems for those readers that experience too much shade, too much sun, difficult soil or plants that get nibbled by the hungry backyard pests…whatever the plight, we are confident that we have a solution!

While we have showcased hydrangeas before, this month we would like to focus on the climbing hydrangea.  This deciduous vine may not look like a typical hydrangea, but this climber surely features its own version of large and fragrant flower clusters and is ready to assist bare and problematic areas within your landscape!

Climbing hydrangeas are large vines that have the potential to grow up to 80 ft tall!  While the vines are a beautiful addition, they are certainly heavy and need support.  Planted against a structure like a pergola or trellis, they will find their way to twine around and up the structure in no time; planted against a shed or house, they will find their way up by means of their aerial roots that grow along the main stem, giving them the ability to cling and advance upwards.

Where not many strong flowering vines tolerate shady to semi-shady spots within the landscape, the climbing hydrangea thrives in these locations.  Having a healthy survival rate if planted facing a northern or eastern exposure, they will also acclimate to a sunnier and warmer location if watered regularly and have a mulch bed of at least 3” to help retain moisture and keep cool feet.  Hardy in zones 4-7 (find your hardiness zone here), this plant needs moist soil that is well-drained and rich in nutrients.  If you are able to provide these fundamentals, you will be rewarded with delicate and fancy flower clusters surrounded by simply serrated ovate dark green leaves.  Flowering late spring to early summer, the foliage will sway in the breeze through later in the year when the green transitions to yellow creating a sweet and delightful detail to your home even when the weather changes.

Growing best on sturdy and flat surfaces like stone, masonry walls and wood, this vine is truly a versatile and lush solution to a bare area that calls for an organic conversation piece.  Providing year-round interest, this vine is most effective when grown against a building composed of brick and natural materials, contributing a graceful ambiance to the space.  For more rustic applications, climbing hydrangeas can be grown to cover fences, to sprawl over low stone walls or to cover old forgotten tree trunks or rock piles in the field.

As an old wives’ tale says, the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps speaking to the growing pattern of this plant; patience is certainly key.  Being that this hydrangea takes time to establish and mature, pruning should not be performed in the first 2-3 years of its growth.  However, after its “leap” stage, you will see growth happen rather quickly, so it is important to keep a watchful eye and perform trimming when it starts to get a little unruly.  Cutting back the vines are not a fine art (like you would consider rose pruning). so don’t be intimidated by the potential size of this landscape spotlight.  Simply cut off wayward shoots just below the spent blooms and cut out old or dead stems to tame and stimulate healthy growth.

Not every homeowner admires the same plant in the same way, so while some may see this plant being too rambunctious for their taste, there are others that think that this is the perfect solution for a particular spot on their property.  That is what the Landscape Spotlight is all about, providing information to help, guide and inspire!

On that same note, I suppose that is what MasterPLAN Outdoor Living is also all about…guiding and partnering with our clients to inspire and create beautiful and functional outdoor living spaces for the whole family to love and enjoy!  For those living in the Poconos, Lehigh Valley, through the Main Line of Philadelphia and western New Jersey that would like to explore their options to transform their outdoor living dreams into reality, feel free to reach out to MasterPLAN!  It is our pride and our passion to help solve tricky outdoor issues and create spaces that enhance our clients’ lives and encourages happiness.  When you are ready to discover the full potential of your space, we are ready to welcome you into our family, collaborate and create!

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