Climbing hydrangea is the popular name for several different species of closely-related woody and flowering vines. These plants belong to the Hydrangeaceae family of flowering plants, and their genus, Hydrangea contains around 75 members. Most of these are shrubs and trees, while a few are lianas — woody, soil-rooted vines with long stems, and which may be evergreen or deciduous.
The epithet “climbing hydrangea” is commonly applied to three different but closely-related species. Hydrangea anomala is also called the Japanese climbing hydrangea, while a taller subspecies of this plant, called Hydrangea anomala petiolaris, is especially popular. Hydrangea barbara, also called woodvamp, is another Hydrangea species native to the southeastern regions of the United States.
Climbing hydrangea plants are notoriously slow growers, and they certainly benefit from some expert love and care to reach their full potential. Once mature, however, climbing hydrangea vines, which produce beautiful lacy white flowers, are a real eye-catcher.
About Climbing Hydrangea
- The climbing hydrangea is a woody climbing plant with dense deciduous leaves. These plants will reward patient gardeners with lovely delicate flowers — incidentally also very fragrant — in summer. They are best known for their ability to scale walls, trees, and trellises. Should you be looking for a ground cover plant, the climbing hydrangea can play this role, too. With the right approach to trimming, they can be trained to perform as shrubs.
- Hydrangea anomala petiolaris is native to China, the Himalayas, Siberia, Korea, and Japan, where they feel at home along mountains and in wooded valleys.
- Hydrangea barbara is a related climbing hydrangea plant native to the southeastern regions of the United States, especially North Carolina.
- The scientific name of the genus this plant belongs to, Hydrangea, is a Greek word that means “water vessel” — a nod to the vase-like shape of the woody fruit capsules these vines produce, as well as the fact that these plants can be rather thirsty. Meanwhile, “anomala” means (you guessed it!) “anomaly” — because these climbing hydrangea plants have different features than their close cousins.
- Climbing hydrangea plants are extraordinarily slow growers. Gardeners who introduce young climbing hydrangea plants to their gardens may have to wait a couple of years before they ever see any flowers, although they’ll be able to enjoy the fresh green foliage immediately. Once this plant reaches maturity, the vines can, if given the right growing surface, easily outgrow most trees.
- Watch out — climbing hydrangea vines are mildly, but very definitely, toxic to pets that include dogs, cats, and horses. The toxins contained in these vines can affect people too. While skin contact won’t cause any harm, ingesting any part of the plant will lead to nausea, vomiting, profuse sweating, and stomach pain.
- The fact that these plants have dense foliage is certainly a large part of their appeal, but it also means climbing hydrangea plants are fairly vulnerable to mildew and leaf spot. These vines can also be plagued by pests such as scale, aphids, and spider mites — for which reason it is extremely helpful to spray them with neem oil.
- Climbing hydrangea vines flower during the summer, but are beautiful year-round — in the springtime, their fresh green leaves will brighten up any garden (whether the plants are grown as ground cover, shrubs, or as climbing vines on gates or trellises). In the fall, you will be able to enjoy bright yellow foliage, and once winter rolls around, the unique exfoliating bark adds some texture.
Climbing Hydrangea Features: An Overview
- Japanese climbing hydrangea is a slow-growing, tall, viny plant with dense foliage and fragrant flowers that blooms during the summer. As a deciduous plant, its leaves will shed during the fall, after which gardeners can enjoy the nice exfoliating texture of the bark.
- While Hydrangea anomala petiolaris is slow-growing, it can reach impressive heights of 30 to 50 feet (nine to 15 meters) once fully mature. These viny plants also have a nice spread of five to six feet (one and a half to two meters) wide.
- These versatile plants can be grown as shrubs with enough pruning, and are often grown as climbers on trellises, gates, walls, or trees. They also make for ideal ground cover plants — and the shape of your Hydrangea anomala petiolaris depends on your pruning efforts.
- The foliage of the climbing hydrangea has a glossy texture, and they grow in an alternating pattern. The leaves are serrated and ovate, and three to six inches long and wide.
- The golden yellow flowers of the climbing hydrangea are especially fragrant and bloom in the summer. A ring of (attractive) sterile flowers surrounds a center of smaller fertile flowers, which grow in flat clusters. The flowers growing on the edge of these clusters have a pale yellow or white tone.
- After flowering, Hydrangea anomala petiolaris produces small urn-shaped woody fruit capsules.
- The bark of the climbing hydrangea can be light or dark brown, or may have burgundy undertones. In all its variations, the bark peels during the winter time.
- These plants rely on suckers (also appropriately called holdfasts) to cling into walls and other vertical surfaces, such as trees.
- A climbing hydrangea will need six weeks of colder weather — 65 °F (18 °C) or below — to set buds successfully.
Growing Climbing Hydrangea
Hydrangea anomala petiolaris strongly prefers temperatures of around 60 °F (16 °C) during the daytime, and slightly cooler temperatures of approximately 50 °F (10 °C) at night. For this reason, climbing hydrangea plants generally thrive in temperate climates.
These slow growers will thrive when planted in locations that receive partial sun to partial shade — and because they cope much better with shady conditions than many other climbing vines, they are a great choice for shady locations, especially in climates that tend to be slightly higher than their preferred mild range.
If you would like to encourage your climbing hydrangea to bloom abundantly, on the other hand, you’ll consider placing it in a slightly sunnier spot. Because direct sunlight can damage the leaves, choose a location that receives indirect sun.
- This Plant will Ship in a fabric Grow Bag ( see pics ) - Deliveries to CA, OR, WA, AZ, UT, ID, NV, MT, ND, SD will be shipped bareroot. All other states will be shipped in the pot
- Hydrangea anomala, commonly known as climbing hydrangea, is a vigorous, sprawling, deciduous, woody vine that clings and climbs by twining and aerial rootlets along the stems, typically maturing over time to 30-40’ long. Horizontal lateral branching often extends several feet beyond supporting structures.
- Unsupported vines sometimes will grow in the form of a mounding shrub to 3-4’ tall, sprawling along the ground like a ground cover eventually covering an area of up to 200 square feet. Fragrant white flowers in flat-topped clusters (to 8” wide) bloom in late spring to early summer (May-June).
- MATURE HEIGHT : up to 40 Feet -- MATURE WIDTH : 3-6 feet -- EXPOSURE : shade to partial sun -- HARDINESS ZONES : 4-8 -- Plant is growing in a Trade Gallon Pot
- The plants are currently growing in a 1 Quart nursery pot, However, they will NOT ship in a plastic pot. - May ship dormant when ordered from November thru March - We CAN NOT guarantee plants will have flowers at time of purchase - Actual plant sizes vary from one crop to the next and one season to the next, Please contact us for CURRENT PICTURES or CURRENT PLANT SIZES
- The Climbing Hydrangea is deliciously fragrant!
- Hardiness zone: 4 - 7
- Bloom time: Starting in June or July until frost
- Plant seeds: Fall / Cold stratify 1-2 months
- USDA Hardiness Zone. This hydrangea species is a flowering deciduous vine grown in 8-11 (USDA). In summer, white lacy blooms cap the lush green ovate leaves.
- Sun. Climbing hydrangea grows best in full sun to part shade.
- Soil. Plant your climbing hydrangea in garden beds that contain rich, moist soil with good drainage.
- Water. Similar to other hydrangea plants, climbing hydrangea likes the soil to be consistently moist.
- Use. Hydrangea vines can be trained to grow up the sides of houses, fences, pergolas, trellises, or over the top of a garden arbor.
Last update on 2023-08-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The climbing hydrangea performs best in slightly acidic and well-draining soil types rich in nutrients. You will want to mulch around the base of the roots to help them retain moisture.
In terms of fertilizer, these beautiful vines will reward you with more numerous and stronger blooms if you offer it a high phosphorous fertilizer in the spring. Since climbing hydrangea vines do not tolerate nutrient-poor soil, a granular fertilizer or natural compost will support them during the fall period as well. Additional care should involve spraying the Hydrangea anomala petiolaris with neem oil to reduce the risk of pests.
Since the climbing hydrangea is a slow-growing plant, it will not need much pruning. It is prudent to remove dead vines at the beginning of the spring, however. If you would like to grow climbing hydrangeas as shrubs, prune accordingly.
Watering Climbing Hydrangea
Climbing hydrangea thrives, like other hydrangea plants, in moist soil and will need at least an inch of water every week. Just how often should you water your Hydrangea anomala petiolaris?
The answer to this question depends on multiple factors, including your local climate, the precise location in which you planted your vines, and the age of your climbing hydrangea. Young Hydrangea anomala petiolaris plants will need more water to help them grow. As your climbing hydrangea grows, keep a close eye on the soil during its first few years and water it whenever the topsoil has dried out. Hydrangea anomala petiolaris prefers moist but not soggy soil.
After your climbing hydrangea is fully mature, you won’t need to water it as much, unless you live in a sunny region or your area has not had any rainfall for a while. Keep in mind that the vines can become extremely flammable when they are dry, so your plant’s health isn’t the only reason to make sure to give it plenty of water during especially warm seasons.
One other point to pay attention to is this — your climbing hydrangea plants will need an extra dose of water before they go dormant for the winter. Once the cold season starts, apply mulch to protect the roots.
Propagating Climbing Hydrangea
Climbing hydrangea vines are surprisingly easy to propagate. These plants can be propagated from seed as well as through cuttings, with propagation from cuttings being the more popular method. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to expand your Hydrangea anomala petiolaris to other locations within your home garden, or you can share climbing hydrangea with your friends!
Here’s a look at the steps you would need to take to propagate your Hydrangea anomala petiolaris through stem cuttings, which should be done in early summer — May or June:
- You will need to choose a suitable container to plant your cutting. Potting trays are typically chosen. Fill this container with a loam and perlite pottong mix, which should be pre-moistened to support the growth of the new climbing hydrangea cutting.
- Give your existing climbing hydrangea plant a good once-over, and choose some healthy, green, and budless stems from which to take your cutting. Select sharp garden shears for the purpose, and make sure they’re sterilized — contaminated shears can spread diseases to your new cutting.
- Go ahead and snip off three to five inch (eight to 13 centimeter) lengths from your chosen stems, cutting two inches (five centimeters) underneath a leaf node and steering clear of the woody portion of the climbing hydrangea vine.
- Next, gently detach nearly all the leaves, leaving only two in place at the very top of your climbing hydrangea cutting.
- Next, dip your climbing hydrangea cutting in your proffered rooting hormone powder, shaking the excess off. Now you can plant your stem into the container you prepared for it.
- Cover your climbing hydrangea cutting with a plastic bag to keep the humidity in. The best place for your new climbing hydrangea to grow is one where it will get low light and keep a stable temperature — 70 to 75 °Fahrenheit. Help it grow by misting it regularly.
- Your climbing hydrangea will begin take root in about just a month! Once you do notice this, take your climbing hydrangea outside for a few weeks to expose it to the morning sun.
- You can plant your stem cutting in your garden in the springtime!
The steps to propagate climbing hydrangea from seed are:
- Take seeds from a mature climbing hydrangea in September or October. When picking the seeds from your plant, look for brown seed capsules that resemble the shapes of urns. These seed capsules will need to be dried for two weeks before use.
- Crush your seed pods lightly to expose the seeds. Collect all the seeds and place them in an envelope so you don’t lose them.
- As with propagating from stem cuttings, you should prepare moist soil in a container for your seeds.
- Plant the seeds on top of the soil — do not bury them, but place them on top! Keep the pot near a window, where it will receive indirect sunlight to assist with the germination process.
- It will take around 14 days forr your climbing hydrangea seeds to germinate.
- When you notice spot shoots are beginning to develop, you can transfer your seedling into a garden bed.
New climbing hydrangea plants should be transported to a garden bed, or other chosen location, during the spring. With continued love and care — and some patience, to be sure — your climbing hydrangea will begin to bloom before you know it.
Hydrangea anomala petiolaris and closely related Hydrangea species, like Hydrangea barbara, are treasured for their beautiful vines and blooms, and will make for great additions to your garden. They shine as climbing vines, but also help with weed control when used as ground cover plants. With some extra attention, climbing hydrangea can also perform well as a shrub. No matter where you plant them and how you train them to grow, climbing hydrangea vines are interesting to look at throughout the year, making transformation after transformation.