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Connecticut Garden Journal: Climbing Hydrangea

Hydrangea Petiolaris_Wendy Cutler_Flickr.jpg
Wendy Cutler
Flickr / Creative Commons
Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea Petiolaris)

October is a great time to plant shrubs, trees and vines. The air and soil temperatures are still warm so plant roots continue to grow and there's great sales at many local garden centers. One of my favorite vines is the climbing hydrangea.

If you have a partly shaded North or East side of a house, garage or barn, consider growing a climbing hydrangea. Hydrangea petiolaris will flower in part shade and provide year round interest. The glossy green leaves make a great visual screen. In early summer, white, lacy, umbels of flowers emerge that are showy, good for drying and great for bees. In fall, the leaves turn a bright yellow color and in winter the cinnamon colored bark contrasts beautifully with the winter's snow.

Climbing hydrangea grows slowly and needs support. Plant it now in well-drained, moist, fertile soil. After 3 years it will really start growing and flowering. Climbing hydrangea can grow to 50 feet tall and survive for decades. It's also a heavy vine that needs support. Even though it has clinging roots on the stems that attach to any surface, you'll want to erect a strong trellis instead of letting it climb up your siding. Over time the foliage and clinging roots can cause siding to rot and require you to remove the vine to fix it. You can also grow climbing hydrangea up an old, large stump or dead tree letting to sprawl.

There are just a few varieties of climbing hydrangea. 'Firefly' has a variegated yellow and green leaf making it even more interesting in summer.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.