27 Cold Hardy Hydrangea Varieties For Cool Climates

Do you live in a cooler climate but really want to plant hydrangeas this season? There are actually many different varieties of hydrangea that can survive in colder hardiness zones. In this article, gardening expert and hydrangea enthusiast Jill Drago examines her favorite hydrangeas for areas that get some cooler weather!

cold hardy hydrangeas


Hydrangeas are one of the most popular flowering shrubs you can plant, and they come in many different stunning varieties. There are plenty of sun-loving hydrangeas, but generally speaking most of them prefer at least partial shade. So what if you live in a cooler climate? Are there any varieties that are more acclimated to colder weather?

In actuality, many hydrangeas are cold hardy well into hardiness zone 3. As long as they have adequate sunlight and aren’t in the sun during the hottest parts of the day, many different varieties will do quite well in colder climates.

So which varieties should you plant? We’ve hand-picked some of our favorite types of hydrangea that will thrive in cooler climates. You’ll find plenty of different options, with flowers that bloom in red, pink, purple, white, and blue – the most popular color of all for these productive bloomers. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in and take a look at our favorite varieties for cooler climates!

What Are Cold Hardy Varieties?

Hydrangea arborescens
There are two specific species that are more apt to be cold hardy.

The hydrangea family is made up of many different species, together as a group have been said to grow well in USDA zones 3-7. We know that with the right plant location hydrangeas will grow in even warmer climates than zone 7. The tricky part comes with winter hardiness, and their ability to withstand not only the cold temperatures but the wind and weight of snow that come along with winter.

Not all hydrangeas are tolerant of these colder climates. The very popular bigleaf hydrangea, for example, can only tolerate the cold of zone 5 and sometimes that can be difficult.

If you live in zones 3 or 4, or even 5 you may be on the hunt for some cold hardy hydrangeas. If this is so, you will want to look for Hydrangea arborescens (smooth hydrangea) or Hydrangea paniculata (panicle hydrangea). Both of these species will do well in cooler climates. They have both been hybridized and their collections are growing each year.

Hydrangea Arborescens Varieties

Also known as smooth hydrangeas, arborescens are one of the most popular species that are sought after each season. There are a few varieties within this species that tend to do a bit better in colder weather. Let’s take a look!


Variety Annabelle
One of the most popular hydrangeas, ‘Annabelle’ produces massive white flowers on long thin stems.
  • Bloom Time: Early Summer- Fall
  • Plant Size: 3-5 feet
  • Flower Color: White
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

‘Annabelle’ is THE smooth hydrangea. This is an old and very popular plant, and until a few years ago ‘Annabelle’ was the only smooth hydrangea available on the market. This variety has massive white ball shaped flowers that dance above the long lean stems.

Even though these blooms are well loved, they are the cause for the plant’s one downside: flopping. The stems on ‘Annabelle’ are weak, and will arch down to the ground when the plant is in full bloom due to the weight of the massive flowers.

‘Annabelle’ is a rapid grower and will reach its full size of 5 feet very quickly. Plant ‘Annabelle’ as a specimen shrub in a garden or as a hedge along a woodland edge or a shady patio.


‘Grandiflora’ has large creamy white flowers with a greenish tint.
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Plant Size: 3-6 feet
  • Flower Color: White
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

This variety, also known as ‘Hills of Snow’, is similar to Annabelle in size and shape, growing to about four or five feet high and wide. Its flowers are very large and creamy white with tinges of green.

This hydrangea is a very dependable bloomer, and will produce its showy flowers from July through October. Prune it to the ground in the spring for the best possible bloom later than summer. Mix them into a perennial garden, and it will help fill in the bloom gaps that tend to happen in the late summer.


Variety Incrediball
A popular choice, ‘incrediball’ produces bright white flowers in the form of balls that are held on strong stems.
  • Bloom Time: Early Summer- Fall
  • Plant Size: 4-5 feet
  • Flower Color:White/ Green
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Incrediball’ is a hybrid of ‘Annabelle’ and other Hydrangea arborescens varieties with the goal of stronger stems. The hybridizers were successful and ended up with a plant with very strong stems that will support their flowers and remain upright.

‘Incrediball’ is a little bit smaller than ‘Annabelle’ growing to 4 or 5 feet, but ‘Incrediball’s flowers are bigger reaching up to 12 inches across. These large flowers will bloom as a bright white and fade to green as they age.

Unlike other varieties, ‘Incrediball’ flowers hold their color through a frost. Use this shrub anywhere in your garden such as a woodland edge or a perennial garden. Don’t forget your cutting garden, these blossoms are gorgeous in arrangements: fresh or dried.

‘Incrediball Blush’

Incrediball Blush
‘Incrediball Blush’ has silver-pink massive flowers and stronger stems.
  • Bloom Time: Summer- Fall
  • Plant Size: 4-5 feet
  • Flower Color: Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

This member of the ‘Incrediball’ series offers gardeners a new flower color for the smooth hydrangea. These flowers are a silvery pink, and are massive. This variety is long blooming, beginning in the summer and lasting through the first frost.

Again, this is an improved version of ‘Annabelle’ with stronger, and more stout stems.  ‘Incrediball Blush’ will grow from two to five feet. The compact nature of the plant makes this a good addition to your perennial gardens, as well as your cutting gardens.

‘Invincibelle Lace’

Variety Invincibelle Lace
This variety has wonderful plum-colored flowers in the shape of a lace cap.
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Plant Size: 4-5 feet
  • Flower Color: Pink/ Purple
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Invincibelle Lace’ is a rare lacecap variety of the smooth hydrangea, and a must have addition to any cool climate garden. The flowers are a pretty plum, and they are positioned on top of deep red stems.

‘Invincibelle Lace’ has a place in every garden due to its whimsical nature. The lace can blossoms are dependable, and they are beneficial to our pollinators. The uses of ‘Invincibelle Lace’ are endless. You could use this shrub as a hedge, a border, throughout your gardens, a foundation plant or as a specimen plant.

‘Invincibelle Limetta’

Invincibelle Limetta
‘Invincibelle Limetta’ produces large light green flowers that turn creamy white by autumn.
  • Bloom Time: Summer- Fall
  • Plant Size: 3-4 feet
  • Flower Color: Green/ White
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

This easy to grow hydrangea is a compact smooth hydrangea, with very large flowers. These flowers open light green, and will fade to a creamy white before turning to a jade green in the fall. Save these flowers for dried arrangements that will be very long lasting.

The lime green shade of flowers makes ‘Invincibelle Limetta’ a versatile plant in your landscape that will be easily accented by any of your colorful perennials.

This variety has been hybridized to have extra strong stems so you will not need to worry about the typical flopping of branches that smooth hydrangeas have become known for.

‘Invincibelle Wee White’

Variety Invincibelle Wee White
A popular choice for white flowering varieties, ‘Invincibelle Wee White’ has large flowers that become very white with age.
  • Bloom Time: Summer- Fall
  • Plant Size: 1-2.5 feet
  • Flower Color: White
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Invincibelle Wee White’ is a compact plant with massive white flowers! This variety has the ability to fit in almost every space in your garden, even the smallest. These large flowers will open in a soft pink and change to a crisp white shortly after, as the flowers age.

‘Invincibelle Wee White’ is low maintenance, and would be a great, dependable choice for a foundation garden. Be sure to plant ‘Invincibelle wee white’ in an area that gets about six hours of sun to ensure that the short stems will be strong enough to hold up its large flowers.

‘Invincibelle Spirit’

Variety Invincibelle Spirit
This variety opens with dark pink flowers that fade in the summer sun, giving the hydrangea a beautiful two-tone appearance.
  • Bloom Time: Early Summer- Late Summer
  • Plant Size: 3-4 feet
  • Flower Color: Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Invincibelle spirit’ is another example of a smooth hydrangea with pink flowers. You should expect ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ to grow similarly to ‘Annabelle’. Its stems are more sturdy than ‘Annabelle’, but they are not quite as sturdy as ‘Incrediball’ and you may have some drooping branches after a rainstorm.

Don’t worry those branches will recover quickly. These flowers open as a very deep pink and will bleach out in the summer sun giving the flowers a really pretty two toned appearance. This variety has since been improved upon and now boasts stronger stems. You may find these newer plants labeled as ‘Invincibelle Spirit II’ or ‘Invincibelle Spirit III’.

‘Lime Rickey’

Variety Lime Rickey
This variety produces light green flowers that turn dark green with age.
  • Bloom Time: Summer through fall
  • Plant Size: 4-5 feet
  • Flower Color: Green
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Lime Rickey’ has beautiful large disc shaped flowers that are supported by nice strong stems. These large flowers will bloom as a light green and fade into a darker green as the season progresses. For a fun, added bonus the pollen of these plants is pink, which makes for a really pretty summertime color combination in your garden.

‘Lime Rickey’ is a very dependable bloomer and will continue to be successful from season to season. ‘Lime Rickey’ will grow to about five feet tall making it a good choice for a mass planting or hedge.

‘Seaside Serenade Bar Harbor’

Seaside Serenade Bar Harbor
This variety has stronger stems than the popular ‘Annabelle’ hybrid, producing green flowers that fade to creamy white.
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Plant Size: 4 feet
  • Flower Color: White
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Bar Harbor’ is a compact version of the famed and popularly hybridized ‘Annabelle’. Like a lot of the other smooth hydrangea varieties ‘Bar Harbor’ has been bred to have stronger stems to support the blooms throughout the summer and the wild weather that can come with the warmer months.

‘Seaside Serenade Bar Harbor’ will grow at a moderate pace and will max out at four feet tall. Try using this hydrangea in a container because of its compact nature. The dome shaped flowers are made up of many tiny sterile flowers that will bloom green and fade to a creamy white that will last you into the fall.

‘White Dome’

Variety White Dome
This variety produces magnificent white flowers that turn pink with age.
  • Bloom Time: Summer through Early Fall
  • Plant Size: 4-6 feet
  • Flower Color: White/ Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘White dome’ is a gorgeous hydrangea if you are looking for something a bit different. ‘White Dome’ will grow from four to six feet high and wide, making it a substantial addition to your gardens.

The most interesting part of ‘White dome’ is its flowers. This variety has six to ten inch cloudlike foamy flowers that are made up of a cloud of fertile flowers surrounded by a few familiar sterile flowers. These dreamy flowers are white and will turn pink as they age.

Hydrangea Paniculata Varieties

Also known as panicle hydrangeas, this species is typically more well known for being the sun-lovers of the group. But they are also quite hardy, and can withstand colder climates very well. Let’s take a look at the most popular varieties within this species.


‘Bobo’ blooms with white flowers throughout the summer.
  • Bloom Time: Early Summer through Early Fall
  • Plant Size: 2.5- 3 feet
  • Flower Color: Whote/ Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

What this hydrangea might lack in height it makes up for in an abundance of flowers. The white blooms will slowly change to a pretty pink as they age. ‘Bobo’ will produce flowers from early summer into early fall. Use ‘Bobo’ in a perennial garden or a container.

The habit of this plant is upright and makes it an easy fit for more spaces. ‘Bobo’ may be a bit slower to reach its maximum height, but it should be fully grown in about two years.

‘Burgundy Lace’

Variety Burgundy Lace
This variety produces cone-shaped cream flowers that turn burgundy in autumn.
  • Bloom Time: Mid Summer into Fall
  • Plant Size: 6 feet
  • Flower Color: White
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

‘Burgundy Lace’ is a rapid grower that bears eight inch cone shaped creamy flowers in the summer. These flowers will later turn burgundy in the fall. Its ornate leaves offer a different texture to your garden when compared to other hydrangea leaves.

The leaves will turn a shade of orange or red in the fall adding to your autumn color. ‘Burgundy Lace’ is very tolerant of cold and heat.

‘Early Evolution’

Early Evolution Variety
This variety is very unique, and makes for a great potted hydrangea.
  • Bloom Time: Spring-Fall
  • Plant Size: 2 feet
  • Flower Color: Green/ White/ Pink
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

‘Early Evolution’ is a very early bloomer for panicle hydrangeas. It also has an interesting flower shape that almost has no shape at all. The flowers give this plant the illusion of being covered with a carpet of blossoms.

The flowers on ‘Early Evolution’ are very long lasting. They will bloom a greenish white, and will turn pure white before finishing as a dark pink in the fall. This is a compact panicle hydrangea that is easy to slip into any perennial garden, and would pair nicely with peonies. ‘Early Evolution’ would also be a great choice for a container garden.

‘Fire and Ice’

Variety Fire and Ice
This variety has magnificent flowers that change their color from creamy white, to pink and turning bright red by autumn.
  • Bloom Time: Summer through fall
  • Plant Size: 3-6
  • Flower Color: White/ Pink/ Red
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Fire and Ice’ is a colorful and compact panicle hydrangea. This variety will only grow to about three feet tall but will be covered in multicolored flowers for months.

Just like the rest of the panicle hydrangeas these flowers open in a creamy white turning to pink and again to a bright red in the fall. Oftentimes all three bloom colors will be present at the same time.


‘Grandiflora’ is a popular hydrangea that can be grown as a tree.
  • Bloom Time: Mid-summer to fall      
  • Plant SIze: 10-20 feet           
  • Flower Color: Cream
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

This hydrangea is also known as PeeGee. It is tremendously popular because it is an outstanding plant whether it is grown as a shrub or a tree. ‘Grandiflora’ produces an abundance of beautiful panicle shaped flowers that last well into the fall.

You can purchase them in tree form, or you can start with a younger plant and prune it into a tree yourself. The tree form of this hydrangea is beautiful when used as a specimen plant in your yard.


Variety Limelight
This variety produces large white ball-shaped flowers that turn pink in the fall season.
  • BloomTime: Late Summer – Late Fall
  • Plant Size: 6-8 feet
  • Flower Color: Green/ Pink/ Red
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

‘Limelight’ is a sun-loving panicle that gardeners have grown to love, and it is easy to see why. ‘Limelight’ is large. It will grow from six to eight feet high and wide, making it a really great option for a hedge.

The flowers on ‘Limelight’ are very large, about the size of a football. They will bloom as fresh green and turn to pink, red, or burgundy and last through the frost.

‘Little Lamb’

Variety Little Lamb
This variety produces lovely white flowers that turn a soft pink with age.
  • Bloom Time: Mid Summer- Early Fall
  • Plant Size: 4-6 feet
  • Flower Color: White/ Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Little lamb’ has pretty flowers with small and delicate flower petals. Each flower head is made up of a lot of tiny sterile flowers that are clustered together. ‘Little Lamb’ flowers will open white in the mid-summer turning to soft pink as they age.

Growing from four to six feet high, ‘Little Lamb’ has many places in your garden such as a cut flower garden, perennial gardens, or a mass planting bordering your patio or edge of a garden.

‘Little Lime’

Variety Little Lime
One of the more popular varieties, ‘Little Lime’ has green flowers that turn pink in autumn.
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Plant Size: 3-5 feet
  • Flower Color: Green/ Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Little lime’ is the dwarf variety of the popular ‘Limelight’. Just like “Limelight” the flowers will bloom a fresh green early in the summer and will fade to pink in the fall. ’Little Lime’ has strong stems that will keep its flowers upright through the season.

Use ‘Little Lime’ in containers, in your perennial gardens or as a shorter hedge.’Little Lime’ is best pruned in the spring to encourage more flowers.

‘Little Lime Punch’

Pink and White Little Lime Punch
This beautiful panicle has blooms that come in pink, and white.
  • Bloom Time: Early- Late Summer
  • Plant Size: 3-5 feet
  • Flower Color: Green/ Pink/ Red/ White
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Little Lime Punch’ is a gorgeous specimen. The flowers on this panicle will bloom as a lime green and slowly change from pink to a deep red. Many times there is a combination of these colors on one plant all at the same time!

These colorful flowers will last into the fall giving your garden a splash of fall interest. Plant ‘Little Lime Punch’ in a container garden, or dappled amongst your perennials in your sunny gardens.

‘Pink Diamond’

Pink Diamond
Expect ‘Pink Diamond’ to produce beautiful flowers that bloom in a shade of true pink.
  • Bloom Time: Summer to fall
  • Plant Size: 6-8 feet
  • Flower Color: white/ pink
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

If you are looking for a perfectly pink panicle hydrangea, this is a great option for you. ‘Pink Diamond’ has crisp white flowers that fade into a shade of true pink in the late summer and into the fall. ‘Pink Diamond’ would make a really pretty hedge or border along a patio that would provide privacy during the growing months.

Even though pink diamond grows to eight feet, it blooms best when it is kept to a height of six feet, and the woody stems are thinned out every few years.

‘Pinky Winky’

Variety Pinky Winky
This variety has magnificent flowers that bloom white and turn pink from the bottom up with age.
  • Bloom Time: Mid-Summer- Fall
  • Plant Size: 6-8 feet
  • Flower Color: White/Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Pinky Winky’ is a favorite among hydrangea gardeners. It has very large flowers that will open white and turn pink from the bottom up as they age. The flowers on ‘Pinky Winky’ can reach lengths of up to 16 inches long and they will last through the first frost.

This variety is also quite stunning when grown in a hedge because it gets quite tall. However, it is also a great option for containers.

‘Puffer Fish’

Variety Puffer Fish
This variety blooms with white flowers that turn pink by autumn.
  • Bloom Time: Early Summer- Early Fall
  • Plant Size: 3-5 feet
  • Flower Color: White/ Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Puffer Fish’ is a really pretty hydrangea that is smaller in size when compared to other panicles. Its flowers are fluffy, and cover the entire plant.

The flowers of ‘Puffer Fish’ will open white and fade to green before aging to pink in the fall. Use ‘Puffer Fish’ just about anywhere in your garden. It would make a great foundation plant, or a smaller hedge.

‘Quick Fire’

Quick Fire
This variety is an early bloomer with gorgeous pink flowers that will provide a great screening in your garden.
  • Bloom Time: Mid Summer- Late Fall
  • Plant Size: 6-8 feet
  • Flower Color: White/ Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

‘Quick fire’ blooms earlier than a lot of panicles. The flowers will open white, and turn pink as they age. Growing to 6-8 ft tall and wide this variety would provide good privacy or screening in your yard.

Use this hydrangea in your sunny foundation plantings for an elegant show, or corner specimen plant.

‘Strawberry Shake’

Strawberry Shake
‘Strawberry Shake’ has flowers of an unusually pink hue that resembles a strawberry milkshake.
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Plant Size: 4-5 feet
  • Flower Color: Pink
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

This variety of hydrangea is a quick grower. ‘Strawberry Shake’  will grow four to five feet tall before you know it. Flowers bloom as white and will age to a pretty pink giving you that perfect strawberry milkshake pink.

Use ‘Strawberry Shake’ in containers, or in smaller foundation plantings. Don’t forget to add these shrubs to your cutting garden, the flowers are beautiful when fresh, but also dry very nicely.


‘Tardiva’ produces white flowers that turn light pink with age.
  • Bloom Time: Late Summer
  • Plant Size: 3-6 feet
  • Flower Color: White/ Light Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

This is a late-blooming variety. The later blooms mean they will last you even longer into the fall, making this a great choice if you have plenty of summer blooming flowers in your gardens.

‘Tardiva’ can be trained into a tree form, or used in its shrub form in foundation plantings. The flowers are loosely packed and will bloom white and will turn to lighter pink as they age. The shape of these flowers is whimsical and would be really pretty used in a cottage-style garden.

‘Tiny Quick Fire’

Tiny Quick Fire
‘Tiny Quick Fire’ is a dwarf hydrangea that blooms with white flowers that gradually turn pink.
  • Bloom Time: Early- Late Summer
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet
  • Flower Color: White/ Pink
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

If you are looking for a small hydrangea that packs a big punch, this is the plant for you. ‘Tiny Quick Fire’ is the dwarf version of the popular ‘Quick Fire’ (see below). The flowers on ‘Tiny Quick Fire’ bloom as white and will slowly turn to pink as the summer fades.

This tiny plant only grows up to be three feet at most, making it perfect for a border along a walkway, planted throughout perennial gardens or in a foundation planting.

Final Thoughts

If you live in a cooler zone, do not be afraid to give hydrangeas a try. The varieties listed above are a great place to start. If you are really desiring some blue blossoms, you can plant Hydrangea macrophylla, as well as other species, in containers. These containers can be replaced each season, or overwintered in a cooler indoor space for you to enjoy for years to come.

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