Tips on Growing Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing hydrangea is part of the Hydrangeaceae family.
Climbing hydrangea is part of the Hydrangeaceae family. (Image: RuudMorijn/iStock/Getty Images)

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) is a deciduous, flowering woody vine that can grow between 30 and 50 feet long with a 5- to 6-foot spread. It has deep-green glossy foliage and yields showy clusters of flat-topped, sweet-smelling white flowers in late spring or early summer. Native to Asia, this plant is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 4 through 8. Climbing hydrangea vines do not have any serious insect or disease problems.

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Sunlight, Soil and Water

Climbing hydrangea vines can tolerate full sunlight or partial shade, and they grow best in nutrient-rich, moist, well-drained acidic soil. They may need afternoon shade if planted in hot climates such as western zones 9 and 10 or the Deep South. Climbing hydrangeas do not do well in either soggy or very dry soil. Check the top 4 to 5 inches of soil to determine if the plant needs to be watered. If the soil is still moist, do not water. If it is dry, water plants for about half an hour using a drip system or sprinkler. Water hydrangeas whenever the soil is dry for more than several days.

Pruning Climbing Hydrangeas

Climbing hydrangea vines require little or no pruning, notes the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. If needed, prune away unwanted shoots during the summer. Pruning tools can spread diseases from infected to healthy plants. Disinfect your pruning shears by soaking them for about five minutes in a mixture of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. Rinse the tool with clean water before using it again. Replace your solution every two hours or 10 plants.

Fertilization Needs

Fertilize established plants by sprinkling 1/4 pound of an all-purpose fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 around the drip line, which is the outer ring where rainwater drips from the foliage to the ground. Apply the fertilizer in March, May and again in July. In early spring, you can incorporate nutrients into the soil by adding about 2 inches of composted cow manure from the base of the plant to the drip line.

Caring for New Plants

Do not fertilize hydrangea vines when they are first planted. Apply 2 or 3 inches of mulch around new plants to protect their roots and help maintain soil moisture. Water climbing hydrangeas thoroughly once or twice a week for the first spring, summer or fall. Climbing hydrangea vines are slow to establish. They grow slowly for the first several years but will grow rapidly after that. These plants usually will not flower until three to five years after planting

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