Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla is a species of Hydrangea native to Japan. Common names include Bigleaf Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Lacecap Hydrangea, Mophead Hydrangea, Penny Mac and Hortensia. It is widely cultivated in many parts of the world in many climates.


This deciduous shrub usually grows up to 1-3 m tall. The leaves are opposite, simple ovoid-acute, 7-20 cm long, with a coarsely toothed margin. Its flowers can be white, or range from blue to purple to pink depending on soil pH; in more acidic soils the flowers will be blue, whereas alkaline soils yield a pinkish bloom. White flowered varieties do not change colour regardless of the soil pH.

Cultivation and uses

Hydrangea macrophylla has been cultivated for many years as an ornamental plant in Japan, and in the last 150 years, also extensively in other areas of the world with a temperate climate. Over 600 cultivars have been selected for garden use, varying in flower colour. Gardeners can often control the flower colour by adding lime or aluminium sulfate to alter the acidity level around the plant. These flowers can also be rainbow colored when Na2CO3 is carefully poured into the soil.

Hydrangeas like loose, rich, moist but well drained soil in partial shade to sun. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6-10. Propagation is by cuttings.

Lace-cap hydrangea

The flat-topped inflorescence of the lace-cap Hydrangea macrophylla is especially attractive. Hydrangeas make beautiful foliage in warm months. Flowering is best in areas with mild winters, since the plant blooms on previous year’s growth. The plant may be evergreen in very mild winter areas. In its northernmost range, hydrangea is a foliage shrub, since flower buds are killed in hard winters.


In climates where hydrangea flowers, place in a mixed shrub border or at the back of a flower bed. Its rich foliage and large size make it a wonderful background for white or light colored flowers, even tall growing perennials and annuals. In warm climates H. macrophylla is good for adding a splash of springtime color to shady areas and woodland gardens. Minimal pruning is recommended for most prolific flowering. Flowers are easily air dried and are long lasting.


Some popular Hydrangea cultivars include:

  • 'Beaute Vendomoise' (giant lacecap)
  • 'Big Smile' macrophylla x serrata hybrid (lacecap)
  • 'Blue Bonnet'
  • 'Blue Wave'
  • 'Bluebird'
  • 'Endless Summer' (perpetual bloomer)
  • 'Forever Pink'
  • 'Lilicana'
  • 'Nikko Blue' (perpetual bloomer)
  • 'Pia' (dwarf)
  • 'Red Star' (very deep blue or red depending on ph)
  • 'Sister Theresa'
  • 'Taube' (highly prized Swiss bred lacecap)
  • 'Veitchii'

Hydrangea tea, called ama-cha in Japan, is an infusion beverage made from tea leaves and hydrangea petals.


External links

  • Hydrangeas- Their Pruning and Care(Heronswood Nursery)
  • http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/
  • http://www.floridata.com/ref/h/hydran_m.cfm
  • http://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/HGIC1067.htm
  • Hydrangea Thoughts I - Informative but non-scholarly essay on Hydrangea (Culture, History and Etymology).

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