Dwarf Hydrangeas for Sun

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Hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.), flowering deciduous shrubs, have been cultivated and hybridized since the 1800s. There are now dwarf hydrangeas that generally grow to less than 3 feet tall. Partial shade is the preferred exposure for most dwarf hydrangeas. There are some cultivars, though, that grow equally well in full sun or partial shade and others that grow well in full sun with a little extra care.

White Flowers and Fall Foliage

  • “Pee Wee" (Hydrangea quercifolia “Pee Wee") and “Sike’s Dwarf” (Hydrangea quercifolia “Sike’s Dwarf”) are dwarf oak leaf hydrangea cultivars. “Pee Wee” usually grows to a height and width of 3 feet but may grow to 4 feet tall. “Sike’s Dwarf” grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet and width of 3 to 4 feet. Both are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. Either full sun or partial shade is fine for these hydrangeas. They bloom in late spring or summer, producing cone-shaped clusters of white flowers that change to pale pink during the summer and brown by the end of summer. The leaves are bronze or burgundy in the fall.

Blue or Pink Flowers

  • “Forever Pink" (Hydrangea macrophylla “Forever Pink"), “Let’s Dance Starlight” (Hydrangea macrophylla “Lynn” “Let’s Dance Starlight”), “Otaksa” (Hydrangea macrophylla “Otaksa”) and “Pia” (Hydrangea macrophylla “Pia”) are dwarf big leaf hydrangea cultivars that grow to a height and width of 2 to 3 feet. They prefer partial shade but can be grown successfully in full sun as long as the soil is kept uniformly moist. When grown in soil with a pH above 6, they produce pink flowers in the summer; soil with a pH of 5.5 or lower will cause them to bloom in blue. “Forever Pink” begins blooming in June and is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9, while “Pia” begins blooming in July and is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9. “Otaksa” begins blooming in July and is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9. They produce mophead-type flower clusters. “Let’s Dance Starlight” is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9 and begins blooming in July. It produces flat, lacecap flower clusters.

Unusual Foliage and Flower Colors

  • “Golden Sunlight” (Hydrangea serrata “Golden Sunlight”) is a dwarf hydrangea cultivar that produces bright yellow leaves in the spring that change to light green in the summer and develop a burgundy blush in the fall. It grows to a height and width of 2 to 3 feet and prefers partial shade but can be grown successfully in full sun if the soil is kept uniformly moist. This hydrangea produces flat, lacecap flowers that are pink with white edging when grown in soil with a pH of 6 or higher. The flowers are blue with a white edging when the soil is acidic with a pH of 5.5 or lower. It is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9 and blooms in the summer.

Extremely Cold-Hardy

  • “Endless Summer Bella Anna” (Hydrangea arborescens “Piiha-I” “Endless Summer Bella Anna”) is a dwarf smooth hydrangea hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9. It prefers partial shade but can be grown successfully in full sun with uniformly moist soil. Its deep pink mophead-type flowers grow throughout the summer. The flower color is not affected by soil pH. “Bombshell” (Hydrangea paniculata “Bombshell”) is a dwarf panicle hydrangea cultivar that thrives in full sun or partial shade and is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8. It blooms in the summer and fall, producing cone-shaped clusters or panicles of white flowers. Both of these dwarf hydrangeas grow to a height and width of 2 to 3 feet.

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