Hydrangea shade/sun tolerance

viper4358June 13, 2006

I know that hydrangeas prefer morning sun and afternoon shade. However, I have very little space in my yard that has these conditions. I have a lot of deep shade areas and some areas that receive 2-3 hrs of hot,early afternoon sun. Researching the internet has produced conflicting info on the sun/shade tolerance of various cultivars. I currently have rooted cuttings of nikko blue, endless summer, lady in red, native oakleaf, an unkown blue lacecap and a varigeated lacecap. Can anyone give me some advice on, or ranking of, the sun/shade tolerance of these varieties? If it was your yard, which would you place in the deepest shade and which would get the most sun? Thank you!

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kidhorn(7a MD)

My experience is hydrangea can do OK in lots of shade provided they get some indirect sunlight or the shade is dappled with sun. You should't plant them under pine trees with low hanging branches. 2-3 hrs of sun is OK too. They may wilt on some of the hotter days. Give them plenty of water and they'll perk up.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 2:19PM
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Kidhorn - Thank you for your reply. I am concerned that 3hrs of Alabama afternoon sun will be too much (90 -100* temps May thru September). Also thinking that blooms will be sparse in deep shade. I was hoping that someone would give a ranking of the sun/shade tolerance of the varieties that I listed. I would think that not all hydrangeas are equally adaptable and that some would do better in more shade/sun than others. Google searches have been unproductive because of conflicting info. For example, one site says that ES does well in full sun, and another says part shade - do not place in full sun. Maybe I am making this more complicated than it should be. Any more opinions out there???

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 9:31AM
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All hydrangeas are going to need some sunlight to bloom well. I think it goes without saying that none of your hydrangeas are going to like 3 hours of direct afternoon sun, however, ONCE ESTABLISHED, with GENEROUS WATERING, some may handle it better than others. Endless Summer does not handle the sun as well as my Nikkos. It's a tough choice but if I absolutely HAD to, I'd place the plants that are best known for their foliage, (Oakleaf, Variegata, Lady in Red) in the shadier spots and the ones famous for blooms in the sunnier spots) but I would not put any small cuttings in the ground yet as they will not have enough substance to handle the heat/sun.
Not all of us have ideal situations in which to grow the number and type of plants that we would like so compromise is always an issue. My solution to a row of hydrangeas that get too much midday sun, was to plant very fast growing (easily over 5 ft tall in one season) Cassias amongst them. They have a very open habit so they don't totally block the sun, but rather filter it during the worst part of the day. When the hydrangeas are pretty much done, the Cassia is covered with yellow blooms at Thanksgiving through Christmas. Hence the nickname 'Christmas Cassia'.
If you leave the plants in large containers for a while, you can move them around until you find a spot where each will be happy. I do it all the time before I plant. Good luck....yg

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 10:04AM
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lerissa(z6b Philly)

I would rather put them in shade all day than put them in afternoon sun. In my experience, my hydrangeas bloom even if they don't get direct sun all day. And the blooms last longer pretty thru fall. As long as it is not dark shade like directly under a heavy canopy of a large tree, they should all be fine.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 12:21PM
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All - Thank you for the great advice. I am going to leave them in pots until the weather starts to cool. As they mature I will experiment with different locations. I have noticed that some of the areas that I thought of as deep shade actually get some dappled rays at different times of the day and are fairly bright. Might have to thin out a few scrub pines and sweet gums in a wooded area, but they need to come down anyway. - MP

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 10:47AM
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sarahmakes6(z8 OR)

I have an endless summer on the west side of my house. This is its second year. It gets morning shade but full, hot afternoon sun. Completely wrong for a hydrangea, I know. It starts to droop around 3 p.m. during the hot months, so I give it both a morning and an afternoon watering on hot days. Once the sun goes down it always perks right up again. If I skip the afternoon watering the leaves will brown and curl around the edges. I planted it in that spot knowing it might not survive, but I *really* wanted a hydrangea there and was willing to try. It's grown huge and it's absolutely loaded with blooms, so I'm happy.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 1:26AM
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I live in the ATlanta area with very similar conditions. Morning shade, afternoon sun. My hydrangeas do well but of course look sad during the heavy sun periods. I am hoping that the Chantilly Lace I put in this year will bllom there.
Mary/Gaiensville GA

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 9:33AM
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The front of my neighbors house faces directly West and gets no afternoon shade. He has a large group of unknown lacecaps that are absolutely gorgeous and flower their heads off. Come July and August they will get droopy in the afternoon. He doesn't do any supplemental watering for his shrubs. So, it can obviously be done but lots of water will need to be applied until they are well established. Probably would need daily water to keep the mature shrubs from drooping. A good, deep soil and lots of mulch would help.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 10:06AM
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Oakleafs will bloom well in fairly heavy shade. I have wild ones all over the woods on my property, and they bloom in the understory of the overhead hardwoods and pines.

A lot of people in my area transplant wild Oakleafs from the woods to full Sun areas. Those do bloom the heaviest, but the compromise is that the foliage doesn't look as good. The plants appear light green and stressed.

For what it's worth, I have potted Hydrangea macrophylla that I haven't been able to plant yet sitting around in my "nursery" in almost full shade, and they have all bloomed fine. I had a 'Fuji Waterfall' sitting in there that was absolutely covered in blooms and was getting little to no direct sunlight.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 9:14PM
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