The Most Colorful Mophead and Lacecap Hydrangeas for Your Garden
Mophead hydrangeas offer big, dome-shaped clusters of flowers in blue, pink, or white. Most mopheads bloom in late spring or early summer but make their flower buds the year before you see them. As you care for this type of hydrangea, know that it is best to prune them in early summer, right after the flowers fade. Most mophead hydrangeas grow best in a spot with moist, well-drained soil and a bit of afternoon shade.
One of the showiest mophead hydrangeas you can grow, Big Daddy is a variety of bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) that features huge, 14 inch-wide clusters of blue or pink blooms. The long-lasting flowers are great for cutting because they have strong stems. The plant's large flowers, however, can make the stems flop if you grow the plant in extra-rich soil or too much shade. It grows six feet tall and wide in Zones 5-9.
A relatively new bigleaf hydrangea variety with mophead flowers, Pink Shira is a variety of Hydrangea macrophylla with strong stems, compact habit, and long-lasting blooms. Its flowers start out a lovely shade of lime green then turn pink or lavender (this one doesn't go blue). It grows five feet tall and six feet wide in Zones 5-9.
Cityline Paris is another recent mophead hydrangea introduction that stands out because of its upright stems and compact habit. It features bright fuchsia-pink flowers that last a long time before fading to a lovely shade of green in summer. It grows three feet tall and three feet wide in Zones 5-9.
A sister to Cityline Paris, Cityline Mars offers the same tight habit and strong stems. The flowers on this mophead hydrangea are bi-colored with white and either deep blue in acidic soil or magenta in more alkaline soil. It grows three feet tall and three feet wide in Zones 5-9.
Black-stem hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nigra’) has beautiful mophead flowers, but as its name suggests, the stems are what stand out most. They are a dark purple-black color that contrasts against the green foliage and pastel blue or pink blooms. It grows six feet tall and wide in Zones 6-9.
Lacecap hydrangeas give the garden a more delicate look. Instead of producing a one big rounded cluster of showy florets, they form a flower head composed of a ring of colorful florets surrounding a lacy cluster of small florets. When it comes to lacecap hydrangea care, they have similar needs as their mophead cousins.
Considered one of the best lacecap hydrangeas, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lanarth White’ shows off large clusters of white florets faintly blushed with blue or pink. Its stiff stems keep the spectacular flowers standing upright. It grows four feet tall and wide in Zones 5-9.
Rough-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea villosa) is a favorite of gardeners in areas of the South and Northwest and is a little more exotic-looking than your average lacecap hydrangea. It features long, narrow, hairy foliage and blooms in late summer and fall. It's also much larger, growing to 12 feet tall and wide in Zones 7-9.
You'll love this hydrangea's beautiful foliage, even if it doesn't bloom for you. Light-O-Day is a Hydrangea macrophylla variety that features rich green foliage broadly edged in white. The white lacecap flowers are an attractive complement to the foliage. This shrub grows five feet tall and wide in Zones 5-9. ‘Mariesii Variegata’ also offers white-edged foliage; ‘Lemon Wave’ features a wide banding of mottled white, cream, and yellow around the leaves.
A handful of mophead and lacecap hydrangeas have the ability to produce flowers on new growth. Because of this, they tend to rebloom throughout the summer and into fall. They're a good choice for gardeners in Northern regions because you don't need to worry about cold temperatures killing the flower buds during the winter.
Endless Summer hydrangea is one of the most famous rebloomers. Introduced in 2004, it allows gardeners in Northern climates to be able enjoy hydrangeas in their gardens. It features big mophead clusters of blue or pink flowers and grows five feet tall and wide in Zones 4-9. There's also a lacecap hydrangea version available; it's called Twist-n-Shout.
This pretty variety of Hydrangea involucrata shows off blue clusters of lacecap flowers from midsummer to frost. Blue Bunny is a strong grower with slightly hairy foliage and unique acorn-shape flower buds. It grows four feet tall and wide in Zones 6-9.
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About Flower Color
Mophead hydrangeas and many lacecap hydrangeas are sensitive to soil pH, and the blooms reflect this. In acidic soils, flowers tend to be blue; in more alkaline soils, blooms tend be more pink. So if you'd like to change the color of your blooms as you learn how to care for your hydrangeas, know that you have to add soil sulfur to make them more blue and add lime to make them more pink.
About Fall Foliage
Mophead and lacecap varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla typically feature attractive fall foliage in shades of red and burgundy. The coloration varies from type to type, so if a fall show is important to you, shop in autumn or research which selections color up the best at the end of the growing season.
A cousin to mopheads and lacecaps, ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’) is one of the hardiest types of hydrangeas and is native to North America. It blooms in summer, producing large snowy-white clusters of showy florets. For that, it's sometimes called snowball hydrangea. ‘Annabelle’ is also one of the best hydrangeas for deep shade. It blooms on new wood, so the best time to prune it is late winter or early spring. It grows four feet tall and wide in Zones 4-9.