Sun Tolerant Hydrangeas: Heat Tolerant Hydrangeas For Gardens

hydrangea sun
Image by AliLooney

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Hydrangeas are old-fashioned, popular plants, beloved for their impressive foliage and showy, long-lasting blooms available in a variety of colors. Hydrangeas are appreciated for their ability to thrive in cool, moist shade, but some types are more heat and drought tolerant than others. If you live in a warm, dry climate, you can still grow these spectacular plants. Read on for more tips and ideas about hydrangeas that take heat.

Tips on Hydrangeas That Take Heat

Keep in mind that even sun tolerant hydrangeas and heat tolerant hydrangeas benefit from afternoon shade in hot climates, as too much direct sun can wilt the leaves and stress the plant.

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Also, even relatively drought tolerant hydrangea shrubs need water during hot, dry weather – sometimes every day. So far, there are no truly drought tolerant hydrangea shrubs, although some are more tolerant of dry conditions than others.

Rich, organic soil and a layer of mulch will help keep the soil moist and cool.

Sun Tolerant Hydrangea Plants

  • Smooth hydrangea (H. arborescens) – Smooth hydrangea is native to the eastern United States, as far south as Louisiana and Florida, so it is accustomed to warmer climates. Smooth hydrangea, which reaches heights and widths of about 10 feet, displays dense growth and attractive grayish-green leaves.
  • Bigleaf hydrangea (H. macrophylla) – Bigleaf hydrangea is an attractive shrub with shiny, toothed leaves, a symmetrical, rounded shape and a mature height and width of 4 to 8 feet. Bigleaf is divided into two flower types – lacecap and mophead. Both are among the most heat-tolerant hydrangeas, although mophead prefers a bit more shade.
  • Panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata) – Panicle hydrangea is one of the most sun tolerant hydrangeas. This plant needs five to six hours of sunlight and won’t grow in full shade. However, morning sunlight and afternoon shade is best in hot climates, as the plant won’t do well in intense, direct sunlight. Panicle hydrangea reaches heights of 10 to 20 feet and sometimes more, although dwarf varieties are available.
  • Oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) – Native to the southeastern United States, oakleaf hydrangeas are hardy, heat tolerant hydrangeas that reach heights of about 6 feet. The plant is appropriately named for the oak-like leaves, which turn reddish bronze in autumn. If you’re looking for drought tolerant hydrangea shrubs, oakleaf hydrangea is one of the best; however, the plant will still need moisture during hot, dry weather.

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