Tips on Increasing Climbing Hydrangea

You do not see climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) as frequently as the shrub types, but it’s one of the more stunning members of the hydrangea family. A full-grown climbing hydrangea vine may be up to 75 feet tall and it’s covered with attractive, heart-shaped leaves during summer and spring. The leaves drop in autumn, demonstrating a showy, reddish-brown, exfoliating bark. Fragrant, white flowers blossom in 6- to 8-inch clusters in late summer and spring. Climbing hydrangea is hardy at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 8.

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Climbing hydrangea grows in full sun or partial shade. The plant isn’t particular about the soil as long as it’s well-drained and not overly alkaline. The leaves turn yellow once the pH is too large. Working powdered sulfur to the soil corrects the issue. You can leave climbing hydrangea to operate across the ground as a ground cover, but it seems its best when it is climbing. Trees and walls make great supports. Trellises have to be hardy to support the huge vines. The vines have strong tendrils that form a firm attachment to nearly any kind of construction. Do not grow the vine against clapboard walls because the tendrils can pull them loose, and avoid walls that require periodic maintenance because the vines do not detach easily. Climbing hydrangea is a great replacement vine for English ivy (Hedera helix), which is an invasive species in many parts of the nation.


You can plant climbing hydrangea in spring or fall. Make sure the plant sits at the ground at the same amount as it did at the container. Water generously after planting but do not fertilize until the following spring. It may take newly transplanted climbing hydrangea vines a year or two to become established, and thus don’t give them up too soon. Seeds germinate readily but take a few years to put on significant growth. The vines grow quickly once established but it may be three to five years before you visit blossoms.

Watering and Fertilizing

Climbing hydrangeas require 1 inch of water a week, either from rainfall or supplemental watering. During hot summers they may need watering more frequently. Keep the soil moist, but do not water so frequently the soil becomes sloping or mushy. A 2-inch layer of compost in spring provides enough nutrients to encourage the plant all year. You might be able to enhance the performance with a mild monthly side dressing table or foliar spray.


Climbing hydrangea is an informal, three-dimensional vine that frequently includes side shoots growing in several directions. This is natural, and part of the charm of the plant. The vines do not require regular pruning except to correct problems. The fragile stems crack and break easily, and you ought to remove damaged components promptly to stop infection. Vines that are allowed to grow beyond their support become top-heavy and may pull off from the break or support. Trim them back in summer, after flowering.

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