Are Hydrangea Perennials or Annuals — Do They Come Back Every Year?

Last Updated on January 26, 2022 by Grow with Bovees

Are you a new plant parent wondering are hydrangeas perennials or annuals? If so, then you have found the right article!

There are many types of hydrangea plants, ranging from tall, magnificent climbers, to miniature dwarf cultivars.

The question is, are all hydrangeas perennials or are some hydrangeas annuals?

What Is The Difference?

Before getting to the answer to the above question, are all hydrangeas perennials, let us start off by differentiating between the two — perennial and annual.

Perennial shrubs are plants that come back every year. Some die down when climates are colder and regrow the following season and others may grow all year round.

Annual plants, on the other hand, have an entire life cycle that only lasts for a year. They usually die after one season has passed.

Now that we understand the meaning of perennials, let us continue by discussing some particularities and focusing on perennial hydrangeas.

To answer the title question, are all hydrangeas perennials? Yes, all hydrangeas are perennials.

Perennial Hydrangeas

These ornamental woody plants are classified as herbaceous perennials. Their strong roots, impressive blooms — ranging from hot pinks to white — and leaves can live for several years, provided that the climate in which you reside suits the type of hydrangea you have taken ownership of.

Hydrangeas are deciduous, which means that they will go into a dormant state during the winter months, dropping their leaves, but they will reawaken in early spring, producing incredible new growth of flowers and growing all through the spring and summer months.

Sometimes, these woody perennials may be mistaken for being annual plants. These are often gift hydrangeas. They do not tolerate the cold and frost and will not survive in hardy zones 5 where the temperature of cold freezing winters can go below -20 degrees. In this case, they would need winter protection.

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The ideal seasons to plant hydrangeas are fall and spring.

Morning sun and afternoon shade are the ideal conditions for most hydrangeas. Placing them towards the east side of your home is a great spot for these lovely plants or any place with dappled sunlight.

Direct afternoon sun is too harsh for the hydrangeas leaves, and it will cause the plant to start wilting. In northern areas, where temperatures are a bit lower, the hydrangea will tolerate full sun.

Provide your hydrangea with rich soil mixed with good amounts of compost and establish a regular watering schedule. Hydrangeas are not fond of being hot and dry.

Continue on as we put more focus on the different kinds of hydrangeas.

Big Leaf Hydrangea

The bigleaf hydrangea — also known as Hydrangea macrophylla — is the most common hydrangea that is found in the states. These shrubs thrive well in zones 5 to 9.

Bigleaf hydrangeas are fairly easy to propagate. Simply take a piece of softwood cutting and grow it in moist potting soil at the beginning of spring.

There are three varieties of bigleaf hydrangeas. These are:

  • Mophead hydrangea
  • Lacecap hydrangea
  • Mountain hydrangea

All of them have beautiful flowers of different purplish shades, ranging in size from 2-4 feet tall.

Panicle Hydrangea

The panicle hydrangea, scientific name, Hydrangea paniculata. The panicle hydrangea family is very low-maintenance and easy to grow.

Panicle hydrangeas have magnificent large flowers that are shaped like a cone. The color of their blooms, interestingly enough, often change from white to a lovely pink color.

Smooth Hydrangea

The smooth hydrangea, which is scientifically known as Hydrangea arborescens, is native to the United States. These deciduous shrub’s tiny clusters of white flowers resemble giant domes emerging from bright green stems, and they bloom beautifully for most of the summer.

Smooth leaf hydrangeas are often referred to as snowballs due to their dome-shaped white clusters of flowers.

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Smooth hydrangeas are able to grow in full sun. But, place it in a cooler or more shaded area if the climate and conditions are too hot.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

The Hydrangea quercifolia — oakleaf hydrangea — is known for its beautiful leaves which are shaped like those of an oak tree. The lovely shape of the oakleaf hydrangeas lush foliage is also where this shrub’s name derives from.

Unlike other hydrangeas, oak-leaf hydrangeas can tolerate being in deeply shaded areas as well as drought and cold climates.

Climbing Hydrangea

The climbing Hydrangea petiolaris is a deciduous climber. It is able to reach a height of 30–80 feet if left to grow freely.

Although the petiolaris is a slow grower at first, once established, it climbs vigorously, clinging tightly to any nearby surfaces or support mechanisms by using its smartly developed aerial roots.

Endless Summer Hydrangea

This shrub tolerates cold winters of zone 4, making it quite winter hardy, and was discovered in the 80s.

Interesting Fact About Hydrangea Color 

It is possible to manipulate and alter the color of hydrangea flowers. This change in colour, however, takes weeks or even months.

It is important to wait until your plant is at least two years old before attempting this alteration. This gives the shrub plenty of time to develop a strong root system, settle and adapt to its new environment, as well as get over any shock that it might have experienced. Particularly if you are growing hydrangeas in pots, transplanting hydrangeas can cause stress. 

Note, that it is easier to change a blue hydrangea flower to a pink hydrangea flower rather than the other way around. Also, not all varieties change color. The lacecap and mophead — which are macrophylla varieties — are quite tough to be altered. The color of their blooms may only be changed depending on the soil pH.

Keeping acidic soil — meaning a pH higher than 5.5 — will cause the plant to develop pink flowers. A pH that is more alkaline — less than 5.5 — induces the production of blue flowers. 

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Hydrangeas that have white flowers, cannot be altered by the soil pH.

If you wish to increase the acidity of your plant’s soil, simply add some aluminum sulfate or garden sulfur to it. Mulching hydrated lime with soil will, on the other hand, decrease the acidity, making the soil more alkaline.

Quick Hydrangea Care Guide & Tips To Growing Hydrangeas

Now that it is clear that your hydrangea will bloom again, let us go through a few basic tips to keep your plant happy and healthy.


Hydrangeas are happy with any soil type rich in organic material. You control the pH for the desired flower color. Be sure to avoid poor draining soils, this may cause root rot. Add a thick layer of mulch to help keep moist soil.


Water your plant once a week, to keep the soil moist. Water enough until the soil looks wet.

Make sure the hydrangea has proper drainage.


Place the hydrangeas in an area of partial shade or direct sunlight, depending on the climate in your area


Add some of the best fertilizer for hydrangeas to your ornamental shrub’s soil once every year during a suitable season, which is ideally the hydrangeas growing season.

In Conclusion

There you have it. Some basic information about the types of hydrangeas and the answer to the question, are all hydrangeas perennials or are some hydrangeas annuals. 

Just to recap, hydrangeas being perennial shrubs, prepare yourself for them going dormant in the winter, but starting to flourish again in early spring. 

Purchase one with its amazing colorful blooms at your local garden center. It will be worth it, as hydrangeas bloom magnificently throughout spring and summer and hydrangeas make for great gift plants!