15 Hydrangea Varieties That Thrive in the Shade

Are you a hydrangea lover that is looking to add some of their classic beauty to the shady spots of your garden? In this article hydrangea enthusiast Jill Drago will list 15 varieties that will compliment your shady gardens beautifully.

A close-up reveals a cluster of Hydrangea flowers with a slightly domed shape. The vibrant blue blooms catch the sunlight, creating a beautiful purple hue. Lush green leaves add to the overall charm, while a glimpse of more flowers can be seen in the background.

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Hydrangeas are known for being stunning shade-loving shrubs. Of course, there are some species and varieties that will do better in the shade while some will require a bit more sunlight. 

Deciding which hydrangea you should be growing in your shady garden can be overwhelming. There are so many gorgeous varieties to choose from. Let me help you with that!

Below are some of our favorite hydrangea varieties across the genera that you can choose to plant in your shaded gardens. These hydrangeas will thrive and add gorgeous color to your garden throughout the season. 

Blue Enchantress®

Close-up of a slightly domed cluster of blue Hydrangea flowers. Delicate pale purple-blue blossoms stand out, surrounded by vibrant green leaves. In the blurred background, hints of red leaves from another plant create a contrasting backdrop.
The Blue Enchantress® hydrangea adds beauty as a specimen or accent plant in shady perennial gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Monmar’ PP #25,209
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Pink, Cream-splashed Green
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Sun to Partial Shade
height height 3-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

This blue reblooming hydrangea will brighten up any of your shady spaces with ease. The stems on Blue Enchantress® are a dark red and are very strong. You will not need to worry about any flopping blossoms with this plant. As the season progresses the blue blooms will fade to a creamy green. 

Plant Blue Enchantress® as a border or foundation planting in a mass grouping. This hydrangea is also beautiful when used as a specimen or accent plant in your shady perennial gardens. You can alter the color of your blossoms by changing the pH of your soil. Head to your local garden center to pick the correct soil amendment. 

‘Flying Saucer’

A close-up of a climbing Hydrangea featuring large white lacy flowers and numerous stamens with thin stalks. The blurred background consists of lush green leaves, providing a lush backdrop.
The ‘Flying Saucer’ is a compact variety of climbing hydrangea, making it a great choice for beginners.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris ‘Flying Saucer’
bloom-colors bloom colors Cramy White
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade
height height 15-20 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

‘Flying Saucer’ gets its name from its very large flowers. New foliage on this hydrangea will emerge as a bright, almost lime, green which will mature to deep green as the season progresses. When summertime arrives the large clusters of white flowers will attract pollinators of all sorts. 

‘Flying Saucer’ is “short” for a climbing hydrangea, making it more manageable and a good option for your first climbing hydrangea. Prune ‘Flying Saucer’ to maintain its size and shape as needed. Do this type of pruning shortly after blooming ends so you do not snip off any buds.  

Light-O-Day®

Close-up of a lacecap flower head with tiny pink fertile flowers that stand out, encircled by white sterile flowers. The blurred background consists of large green leaves, which further accentuate the delicate blooms.
This beautiful lacecap variety can be planted as a foundation or border hedge, creating a beautiful mass of foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bailday’
bloom-colors bloom colors White and Blue or Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Part Shade
height height 3-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Light-O-Day® is loved for its beautiful variegated foliage. The green leaves each have a creamy white border to them. This hydrangea will produce beautiful lacecap blossoms that will cover the entirety of your shrub. These flowers with have either tiny pink or blue fertile flowers that will be surrounded by white sterile flowers. 

Light-O-Day® is a stunning specimen plant, but it is also really pretty planted in a mass as a foundation or border hedge. This hydrangea can also be planted in a container for an elegant addition to your porches or patios. 

‘Miranda’

Flowerless climbing hydrangeas gracefully adorn a wooden fence. The variegated leaves boast shades of deep green with lighter green edging, while no flowers have bloomed yet. The focus is on the foliage, showcasing the plant's unique features.
Climbing hydrangeas can be planted as groundcover and still cover up to 30 feet area.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea anomala petiolaris ‘Miranda’
bloom-colors bloom colors White
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Shade
height height up to 30 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Climbing hydrangeas are wonderfully shade tolerant and can be used as a groundcover or a climbing vine. ‘Miranda’ is a stunning variety with variegated leaves in shades of deep green with lighter green edging. The creamy white flowers will begin to bloom towards the end of spring and will last through early summer.

Plant ‘Miranda’ near a fence, tree trunk, or strong trellis that you wish to train it on. The beauty of climbing hydrangea is that you can also plant it as a groundcover and it will still cover up to 30 feet.

Climbing hydrangeas take a few years to really get climbing as well as blooming. Continue to water your newly planted hydrangeas and in about 3 years you will notice some serious growth. Prune your climbing hydrangea to maintain size as well as shape.  

‘Miss Saori’

This bi-colored, shade-loving hydrangea will retain its pink color, no matter the acidity level of the soil.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Miss Saori’
bloom-colors bloom colors White With Pink Edges
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Sun
height height 3-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

‘Miss Saori’ is a beautiful variety of bigleaf dwarf hydrangeas that does well in shaded gardens. The leaves are beautifully veined with a bright green in contrast to the heart-shaped dark body. In the summer you will find tightly packed double-blooming flower heads.

The petals are uniquely white with bright pink edges. The pink hydrangea bloom color will be preserved, even in more acidic soil. 

Trim back ‘Miss Saori’ after blooming to maintain shape and size. Otherwise, this is a relatively low-maintenance plant. Try planting this hydrangea in containers or in small gardens to fit its petite size.

‘Munchkin’

Close up and overhead view of a cluster of creamy-pink flowers growing on a hydrangea shrub. The foliage is rounded, heart-shaped green leaves with serrated edges. Some of the leaves have rust-colored spots on them. There is a support pole inserted near the center of the plant.
Place ‘Munchkin’ along a walkway or foundation to fully enjoy both its flowers and foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Munchkin’
bloom-colors bloom colors White, Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade to Partial Sun
height height 3-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

If you love the look of oakleaf hydrangeas and have a shaded spot in your garden, but don’t have the room, ‘Munchkin’ is a great choice for you! This dwarf hydrangea will explode with flowers all summer long.

These panicle blossoms will bloom in a creamy shade of white and age to pink. The foliage maintains its medium green color through the summer and will fade to mahogany for excellent fall color. 

‘Munchkin’ is an old wood bloomer, so be sure to do any pruning and trimming in the late summer after the flowers have faded. The flowers on ‘Munchkin’ can reach up to 7 inches in length! Be sure to add this beauty to a walkway or foundation where the flowers and foliage can be equally appreciated. 

‘Penny Mac’

Close-up of a slightly domed cluster of two-toned Hydrangea flowers. The blooms exhibit a mesmerizing mix of blue and creamy-white. Several green leaves form a blurred background, enhancing the allure of the floral cluster. The sun shines brightly on the flowers.
When selecting a plant site, keep in mind that ‘Penny Mac’ is a fast-growing hydrangea.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Penny Mac’
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Sun
height height 4-6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

‘Penny Mac’ is a wildly popular hydrangea, and for good reason. This variety puts on quite a show with very little effort from you. ‘Penny Mac’ is a repeat bloomer and your hydrangea will be covered in billowy blossoms all summer.

As with all other bigleaf hydrangeas, the color of the flowers may vary depending on the pH of your soil. One thing ‘Penny Mac’ can guarantee is you will have multiple shades of flowers simultaneously.

‘Penny Mac’ is a large hydrangea that grows quickly. Keep that in mind when you are selecting a plant site. While this hydrangea does not require pruning, you may want to prune it a bit to keep it sized appropriately for your space.  

Petiolaris

Petiolaris climbing hydrangea thrives in the sunlight. Delicate white lacecap flowers steal the show, accompanied by several green-yellow stamens. The background is filled with heart-shaped leaves in a deep green shade, completing the picturesque scene.
Petiolaris can be planted on rock walls or fences for coverage.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris
bloom-colors bloom colors Creamy White
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade
height height 30-40 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

This variety of climbing hydrangea is the climber that all others are measured against. Once petiolaris gets established it will be quite the vigorous grower, producing loads of beautiful deep green heart-shaped leaves.

In the summer, this hydrangea will produce fragrant white lacecap flowers that can reach up to 8 inches in diameter

Plant petiolaris on rock walls, or fences that you wish to cover. Do not count this hydrangea out as a ground cover! Petiorlaris will cover large areas quickly, and will even grow up tree trunks. Prune petiolaris as needed to maintain shape, and size or to remove deadwood. 

Pink Splendor™

Close-up of a slightly domed cluster of bright pink Hydrangea flowers. The vibrant scene unfolds with an abundance of light pink blooms and lush green leaves. The blurred background offers glimpses of additional flowers of the same kind.
Pink Splendor™ with its beautiful pink flowers can be added to your cutting gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla ‘MonPKSP’
bloom-colors bloom colors Light to Dark Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade to Partial Sun
height height 3-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

This pretty pink hydrangea is a bit more cold-tolerant than some other bigleaf hydrangeas. Pink Splendor™ produces creamy blossoms that will age to a light shade of pink. This reblooming hydrangea has dark green leaves that really allow the lightly colored flowers to pop. 

Pink Splendor™ is a compact hydrangea variety that thrives in partial shade. Its nice and neat size lends itself nicely to foundation gardens or as an attractive border plant.

The pink flowers make excellent additions to your cut flower arrangements, so consider adding one of these hydrangeas to your cutting gardens. As always, don’t forget hydrangeas make excellent container plants!

‘Plum Passion II’

Close-up of a hydrangea plant. The flowers are purple in the center and a light lavender-pink on the outer four-petaled flowers. The foliage is plum-gold, long, and oval-shaped with slight points at the ends.
‘Plum Passion II’ is a versatile plant that can thrive in various garden styles.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea aspera ‘Plum Passion II’
bloom-colors bloom colors Greenish-Purple
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade
height height 5-6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-10

This variety of Hydrangea aspera has foliage that is equally as stunning as its lacecap flowers. The new foliage of ‘Plum Passion II’ will emerge as a deep green with hints of purple, and will age to a deep plum color until the fall when it turns gold. The delicate lacecap flowers are a very pale purple and pink, so pale that they almost appear white.

This dramatic hydrangea could easily find a happy home in any shaded spot of the garden. Try using ‘Plum Passion II’ in your shady borders, as a lovely accent in your cottage garden, or simply in your wooded edges.

This hydrangea can tolerate a little bit more sun in cooler climates but do not plant ‘Plum Passion II’ in direct sun. 

‘Ruby Slippers’

Close up of leaves of a hydrangea plant that are beautifully shaped like miniature oak leaves, adding a touch of elegance with their vibrant shades of fiery red that bring warmth and seasonal charm to the garden.
Consider ‘Ruby Slippers’ width to avoid excessive pruning and plant in groups for maximum impact.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’
bloom-colors bloom colors White to Deep Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade to Partial Sun
height height 3-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

As the name depicts, ‘Ruby Slippers’ is a bold hydrangea that produces gorgeous pink to red blossoms all summer long. The deeply lobed oak-shaped leaves are green throughout the summer and will turn brownish-red in the fall.

Thanks to excellent hybridizing, this hydrangea produces strong stems that keep its flowers upright after heavy rainfall. 

This hydrangea is compact and great when used under windows or as a low-growing hedge. Be sure to take its width into account to prevent any unnecessary pruning. Plant ‘Ruby Slippers’ in a grouping for maximum impact. 

Seaside Serenade® Hamptons

Close-up of a cluster of hydrangea flowers reveals their captivating deep pink hue. The blooms possess a slight frilly edge, adding an element of charm. In the blurred background, a pale green color complements the flowers.
The Seaside Serenade® Hamptons hydrangea is easy to care for and can tolerate cold weather.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla ‘HORTHAMP’ PP #29,005
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade to Partial Sun
height height 3-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

The Seaside Serenade® series of hydrangeas is full of shade-tolerant options for your gardens. The Hamptons variety will add a pop of color to your garden from the spring through the first frost.

The flowers have a slightly frilly edge to them and are a deeper shade of pink than the rest of the flowers. In the spring the foliage is maroon, which will age to green and wrap up the fall with a splash of red. 

Seaside Serenade® Hamptons is cold tolerant and low maintenance. This hydrangea will reach its full size quickly and does not need to be pruned aside from removing damaged or deadwood. 

‘Snow Queen’

Close-up of a cluster of hydrangea flowers. The fully white blooms take center stage, radiating elegance and purity. Bathed in sunlight, the flowers exude a captivating charm.
Use ‘Snow Queen’ as a specimen shrub or a stunning flowering hedge in your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’
bloom-colors bloom colors White to Rosy-pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Sun
height height 4-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

‘Snow Queen’ produces large white clusters of flowers that can reach up to 8 inches long. The bright white of these elegant hydrangeas really pops in the shade of your garden against their green oak-leaf-shaped leaves.

In the fall the foliage will begin to darken to bronze. Even though this hydrangea is deciduous it still holds beauty in the winter. Its brown bark is exfoliating and will remain attractive all winter long. 

Use ‘Snow Queen’ as a specimen shrub or as a beautiful flowering hedge in your garden. For a beautiful border, plant ‘Snow Queen’ along the edge of your woods. This will soften your woodland edge while also adding beautiful year-long color to your garden. 

‘Villosa’

A close-up of a shrub hydrangea with purple-pink lacecap blooms, complemented by long green leaves.
‘Villosa’ is an ideal choice for creating a privacy screen or as a prominent border plant.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea aspera ‘Villosa’
bloom-colors bloom colors White and Purple-Blue or Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Sun
height height 10-12 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-9

The shrub, or rough leaf, hydrangea thrives in warmer climates and is a substantial plant for the shady parts of your gardens. Villosa hydrangeas can reach up to 12 feet high and wide and will be covered in gorgeous lacecap flowers that are sensitive to the pH of your soil. When the leaves drop in the winter your garden will benefit from this shrub’s beautiful peeling bark. 

The ‘Villosa’ hydrangeas are pretty low maintenance. Snip the branches back after the flowers fade if you wish to maintain the shape of the plant.

Of course, you should not plant this variety of hydrangea if you do not have the room. Its large size is unusual for a hydrangea and this plant could be really nice if used as a privacy screen or as a large border plant.

‘White’

Close-up of a slightly domed cluster of white bigleaf hydrangea flowers. The bright white flowers stand out, accompanied by deep glossy green foliage. Other similar flowers grace the background, with a few displaying a hint of yellow.
‘White’ has stunning bright white flowers that can fill shady areas in your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla ‘White’
bloom-colors bloom colors White
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Sun
height height 4-6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

A classic bigleaf hydrangea, ‘White’ is a substantial shrub that will fill the shady spaces of your gardens with bright white flowers. The foliage of the white bigleaf hydrangea is a deep glossy green.

Despite the height of this hydrangea, ‘White’ will maintain a nice mounded form. It is also a great specimen shrub but is often used as a foundation plant or hedge. 

Use this hydrangeas height to your advantage. Blooming, on old wood pruning should be done in the early fall just after the blooms fade. Snip a few of these blossoms to add to your vase arrangements. 

Final Thoughts 

If you select any of the above varieties to fill the shaded spaces in your garden you will have beautiful success. Keep in mind that hydrangeas grow best in slightly acidic soil that is moist and well-draining. Some sunlight will be helpful in producing a high yield of flowers, so provide dappled sunlight if possible!

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Close up of a gardener wearing green gloves using a shovel to dig a hole in a garden next to a small hydrangea plant with bright pink flowers. Another small hydrangea grows in the background with pale green flowers. The garden is lined with round concrete stones.

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