Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011...12:00 am

Climbing Hydrangea

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Climbing Hydrangea Vines by beautifulcataya

When the TheGardenLady was asked for the name of a good vine to grow along the wall of a house, my first suggestion was to check the amount of sunlight that side gets. Depending on the amount of sunlight will determine the vine you want to choose. Also, it would be wise to have a soil test of the area where you want to plant anything. The concrete from the base of the house might leach into the soil to change the pH making it very alkaline. This might not affect the plant you want; but it is best to be sure.

My favorite vine for shade is the climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala petiolaris.  See here.   This is a vine that will grow even in a northern exposure though it likes some sun or dappled sun. It grows in zones 4 or 5 and warmer. It will grow in full sun, too but in the Deep South and in western Zones 9 and 10 it needs shade in the afternoon.

It becomes a very heavy vine that likes something strong to be grown against like a tree, wall, fence, pergola or arbor but since it clings by its aerial roots, it doesn’t need support, just a textured surface to cling to.

I have mine planted to climb up a tree-which this vine will do without killing the tree. It can grow over 25 ft.- some say as much as 80 ft- and I have seen it spectacularly climbing up the side of a cement house or a huge chimney.

It can also be a groundcover or can be trained to form a shrub or treelike shape.

This vine seems to have no major insect or disease problems. But I would keep the baby vines protected from deer that seem to like hydrangeas. Most problems Hydrangea petiolaris have are from over watering. The vine is slow growing for 2 or 3 years and may not flower for about 5 years but when it does flower there will be large white, lace cap flowers that last for more than a month in mid-summer.

I agree with Lorraine Kiefer and Alison Beck who write in their book “Best Garden Plants for New Jersey” that this climbing hydrangea “is quite possibly one of the most stunning climbing plants available.”

All hydrangeas like water. So do not let this plant dry out. The soil you plant it in can be average to fertile and should be well drained.

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