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Seven bigleaf hydrangea cultivars for your garden

By: Garden Gate staff
Find a bigleaf hydrangea for your garden with our guide to seven of the best and brightest cultivars.

Lush, billowing mophead blooms or frilly lacecap flowers in shades of white, pink or blue on sturdy stems. What more could you want in a shrub? How about lustrous green or variegated foliage on a cold-hardy, compact plant? The bigleaf hydrangea group (H. macrophylla) is made up of dozens of cultivars that bloom heavily and live for many years in the garden. Many of the newest cultivars rebloom more reliably and have tidy, compact habits. You’ll also find more colorful foliage and stems, bicolor flowers and earlier bloom periods. I’ll introduce you to seven cultivars here, from old to new, with a variety of wonderful traits.

Ready to learn more? Read our article "How to care for your bigleaf hydrangeas" for simple tips on helping your bigleaf hydragneas to thrive.

'Blue Billow'

The delicate, light-blue lacecap blooms of ‘Blue Billow’ are some of the most cold-tolerant (to USDA zone 4), which makes them a treasure in any garden. But this 4-foot-tall cultivar is also one of the first hydrangeas to bloom — in early summer. And it flowers happily in full shade.

Halo Hydrangeas

These cultivars sport picoteed deep pink, purple (like Angel Song in the photo) or blue mophead or lacecap flowers in early summer. The 7- to 8-inch-diameter blooms (many are also ruffled) open on sturdy stems. But the plants stay compact enough — at 3 to 5 feet tall — to look great in larger containers. Halo hydrangeas are easy to find and cold-hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9.

Endless Summer® Blushing Bride

Like the first plant in this series, Blushing Bride blooms on both old and new wood, to ensure repeat blooms. But instead of being pink or blue, these semidouble flowers open a pure white, aging to lovely soft pink. The dark-green leaves on this 3- to 5-foot-tall plant are resistant to mildew. Even moisture is best, so mulch around the plant, especially the first season.

Light-o’-Day (’Bailday’)

Bright green leaves edged in white sparkle on this 3- to 5-foot-tall plant in either sun or part shade. In addition to pretty foliage, Light-O’-Day has lovely two-tone lacecap flowers that bloom in either pink or blue, depending on your soil type.

'Leuchtfeuer'

'Leuchtfeuer' is also sold as ‘Firelight’ or ‘Lighthouse’. This cultivar blooms a dark rose-red, a rare color for hydrangeas, and stays red even in acid-soil conditions. The large 8-inch-diameter mophead flowers open in midsummer on 4-foot plants.

'Lady in Red'

First, red-veined green leaves emerge in spring. In late spring to summer, stunning lacecap flowers open pink and mature to red. Then in fall, the leaves turn a rich red-purple. This 3-foot-tall cultivar is mildew-resistant so it’s great for areas with hot, humid summers, but is cold-hardy only to USDA zone 6.

Cityline™ Series

With names including Cityline Berlin, Paris and Venice (shown in photo), these plants stay a diminutive 1 to 3 feet tall. They’re perfect in very small beds or in containers, on decks and patios, in sun or part shade. And though the plants are small, the pink or blue mophead flowers are just as large as those of taller relatives.

'Blue Billow'

The delicate, light-blue lacecap blooms of ‘Blue Billow’ are some of the most cold-tolerant (to USDA zone 4), which makes them a treasure in any garden. But this 4-foot-tall cultivar is also one of the first hydrangeas to bloom — in early summer. And it flowers happily in full shade.

'Leuchtfeuer'

'Leuchtfeuer' is also sold as ‘Firelight’ or ‘Lighthouse’. This cultivar blooms a dark rose-red, a rare color for hydrangeas, and stays red even in acid-soil conditions. The large 8-inch-diameter mophead flowers open in midsummer on 4-foot plants.

Halo Hydrangeas

These cultivars sport picoteed deep pink, purple (like Angel Song in the photo) or blue mophead or lacecap flowers in early summer. The 7- to 8-inch-diameter blooms (many are also ruffled) open on sturdy stems. But the plants stay compact enough — at 3 to 5 feet tall — to look great in larger containers. Halo hydrangeas are easy to find and cold-hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9.

'Lady in Red'

First, red-veined green leaves emerge in spring. In late spring to summer, stunning lacecap flowers open pink and mature to red. Then in fall, the leaves turn a rich red-purple. This 3-foot-tall cultivar is mildew-resistant so it’s great for areas with hot, humid summers, but is cold-hardy only to USDA zone 6.

Endless Summer® Blushing Bride

Like the first plant in this series, Blushing Bride blooms on both old and new wood, to ensure repeat blooms. But instead of being pink or blue, these semidouble flowers open a pure white, aging to lovely soft pink. The dark-green leaves on this 3- to 5-foot-tall plant are resistant to mildew. Even moisture is best, so mulch around the plant, especially the first season.

Cityline™ Series

With names including Cityline Berlin, Paris and Venice (shown in photo), these plants stay a diminutive 1 to 3 feet tall. They’re perfect in very small beds or in containers, on decks and patios, in sun or part shade. And though the plants are small, the pink or blue mophead flowers are just as large as those of taller relatives.

Light-o’-Day (’Bailday’)

Bright green leaves edged in white sparkle on this 3- to 5-foot-tall plant in either sun or part shade. In addition to pretty foliage, Light-O’-Day has lovely two-tone lacecap flowers that bloom in either pink or blue, depending on your soil type.

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