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Climbing Hydrangea Care Guide: From Planting to Pruning

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Rebecca loves sharing what she knows about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, fun, animals, and how to live a better life!

Learn how to properly care for you climbing hydrangea with this easy-to-follow article

Learn how to properly care for you climbing hydrangea with this easy-to-follow article

All About the Climbing Hydrangea

The climbing hydrangea is a lovely vine grower that flowers. This plant does very well in many locations, especially those with lower levels of light, where other vines would wither and die. Because it flowers, it can make shady locations colorful and pretty.

One of its best features is that it's not high maintenance! Other than a good watering the first two years, once established it won't ask much of you in return, besides maybe a haircut so it won't take over your landscape. This plant could easily grow to engulf a garage or decent-sized house in no time, so if you don't want that happening, proper pruning is a must!

Colors of the Flowers and Foliage

The flowers of this plant grow in white, delicate, fancy clusters, and they add interest to your garden well through June and July. In the fall, they will appear more yellow; by winter, the leaves change slightly and appear a gorgeous cinnamon color, adding charm to your yard in the cold, visually bland months.

This is truly a great plant for beginners and a fantastic addition to any yard. Out of most vine-growing plants, this one will not disappoint.

Butterflies love climbing hydrangeas too!

Butterflies love climbing hydrangeas too!

Climbing Hydrangea Features

  • Composed of a flowering vine with bright hues of white cluster flowers, yellow leaves in the fall, and red bark in the winter.
  • Contains medium-large rounded glossy green leaves.
  • Will require and prefer a wall, trellis, or other structure to climb up.
  • Can easily reach 60–80 ft. in height.
  • Will tolerate most light conditions, including low-level light.
  • Takes about 2 years to fully establish; it's a slow starter but grows fast once established.
  • Resistant to deer and attracts butterflies.
  • Growth depends on planting location; the plant will not flower as much in shady areas.

Planting Tips

The ideal time to plant this flower is early summer. If planted in the summer, make sure that it has enough water to avoid drying out. Plant your climbing hydrangea in a low-lighted area, but not overly shady. Indirect sunlight for four hours a day seems ideal. If you are a southern gardener, be careful not to plant in a full sun location; this would be a location that receives six or more hours of light a day.

This plant prefers moist, well-drained soil. If that is not possible, plant the root ball a few inches above the ground so that the part above the ground slopes down. If soil conditions are not a concern, plant it in a hole 2x the size of the root ball level with the ground. Use some organic compound such as peat moss mixed with the soil, and give it a nice long drink of water. When finished, add a good topping of mulch to help it retain moisture.

Hydrangea petiolaris flowers and foliage.

Hydrangea petiolaris flowers and foliage.

Beware of Rootlet Marks

It is not advised to plant this next to aluminum or vinyl siding because rootlets when removed, can leave markings on these materials. Preferred locations would be along fences, large trees, pergolas, or possibly masonry structures as long as you don't mind a little rootlet mark.

They also look great in large pots with support trellises.


Climbing hydrangeas tolerate just about all levels of light but seem to do best with even levels of low lighting. This helps produce the big lovely flowers everyone wants.


Climbing hydrangeas require a consistent moisture level of 1" per week. Supplement rainwater to maintain this level and make sure your plants are properly watered during periods of drought

Special Needs and Pruning

The first year it sleeps, next, it creeps, then it leaps! Be patient, kind and gentle to this plant and you will reap the rewards. Since this plant takes some time to mature, pruning should not typically be done in the first 2–3 years. However since this is a vine plant, pruning should be done after it blooms and especially if it starts growing out of control, they do tend to do that!

This plant has little to no issues with insects or disease.


Feed your climbing hydrangeas with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the late spring and mid summer. Avoid feeding after August, as your hydrangeas will be entering their dormant period as fall progresses.

Climbing hydrangea on a building's patio.

Climbing hydrangea on a building's patio.


Now enjoy the many years this lovely flowering vine grower will give you!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Rebecca


Carol on June 29, 2020:

My climbing hydrangea is three years old and has really taken off! The only problem I’m having is that some of the leaves have started turning brown around the edges. This happened last year and eventually all the leaves were affected by the end of summer. I thought I let it get too dry so have been watering more frequently. Any suggestions as to what could be the problem?

Linda on June 27, 2020:

Last year the blooms of my climbing hydrangea came out burnt. This year I ensured it received a lot of water during a particularly hot month but it did not flower, the few blooms it tried to give were again burnt. What can I do to ensure this comes back to my usual beautiful plant? It is an old plant. I think I need to give it a good prune but not sure when to do it.

really larry on June 06, 2020:

honestly, you don't need to buy the website, don't know what you did to get it

Larry on May 04, 2020:

Your an idiot. People looking to find out what kind of fertilizer to use are needlessly brought to your web site for nothing, no information Idiot.

Rebecca (author) from USA on April 04, 2020:

it should as long as you make sure it gets enough water. :)

Nelly on April 01, 2020:

Will Climbing hydrangea do well in Florida port orange county

jmaston on July 06, 2019:

my hydrangea blooms and is a very health plant but the blooms have very few petals - they are mostly seed blooms. is there a way to get it to produce more showy blooms?

Thank you!

Mickie Kerr on June 14, 2018:

I just bought 2 of these plants! Will they bloom this year, if I get them in the ground tomorrow? I live in Southcentral Pennsylvania! Thank you!

Margaret on March 08, 2018:

My location has full sun. I have read that the smaller, evergreen varieties require shade. What variety tolerates sun?

Rebecca (author) from USA on July 30, 2017:

Are they Japanese beetles? I'd use an organic spray, most recipes you can find online.

Judy Pomrenke on July 30, 2017:

I have a lot of beetle damage to my climbing hydrangea. How do I deal with this?

David Altschiller on June 16, 2017:

just moved into a house with a huge climbing hydrangea that doesn't flower. What to do?

Rebecca (author) from USA on June 05, 2013:

Thanks. I just wish they did not take so long to get established! that's the only fooey part. But...once they are they worth the wait.

moonlake from America on June 05, 2013:

I forgot about the climbing hydrangea. I had one at my old house. Now you have me on a search for one to plant here. Voted up.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 10, 2013:

Gorgeous. And I am looking for a new climbing plant to climb up a huge trellis I have. I have two other trellises that already are blanketed with lovelies. This is startling beauty and I have just the spot for it.

Thanks for all of the tips.

Sending Angels your way this evening :) ps