Should You Plant Hydrangea In Sun or Shade?

Hydrangeas are popular flowering shrubs beloved for their elegant beauty and abundance of color. However, to enjoy the best of hydrangeas, you must know the ideal environment they need to thrive. One of the significant factors that determine the flowers’ growth, size, and color is the amount of sun they receive.

In this article, we’ll explore the essential things you need to know about hydrangea sun or shade, drawing from personal experience and authoritative sources.

Light Requirements of Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are well-known for their hardiness and ability to survive in different climates. To ensure that your hydrangeas thrive, you must consider the amount of sunlight they receive. The amount and intensity of light affect the hydrangeas’ growth, color, and development of their flowers.

Ideally, hydrangeas need filtered sunlight and partial shade for optimum growth. Too much sun can lead to burnt leaves, while insufficient sunlight can result in poor growth and fewer flowers.

For most hydrangeas, four hours of morning sunlight is ideal. In the afternoon, shade helps protect the plant from the intense light and heat. However, the amount of sunlight that a hydrangea needs varies depending on the species and cultivar. For instance, oakleaf hydrangeas require more sunlight than mopheads that prefer partial shade.

It’s important to note that while hydrangeas require some sunlight to grow, they also need more water than many other plants. Excess sunlight can cause the plant to dry out easily, and so it is essential to water them regularly, especially in hot weather.

Hydrangeas that Prefer Sun

While most hydrangeas prefer partial shade or filtered sunlight, some species and cultivars thrive in full sun environments. These types of hydrangeas typically have smaller leaves and thicker stems that are better equipped to handle intense sunlight and heat.

One example of a hydrangea that prefers sun is the paniculata grandiflora hydrangea, commonly known as the Peegee hydrangea. This hydrangea produces large white flowers and thrives in full sun environments.

Another sun-loving hydrangea is the Limelight hydrangea, which produces large cone-shaped flowers in shades of pink, green, and white. This hydrangea also does well in full sun environments.

When growing hydrangeas in a sunny location, it’s essential to ensure the soil is well-draining and able to hold moisture. The soil should be rich in organic matter and have a pH level that’s slightly acidic. Additionally, it’s important to water hydrangeas regularly to avoid drying out, especially during hot or dry weather.

Thus, if you’re looking to grow hydrangeas in a sunny location, it’s important to choose varieties that prefer sun environments. You’ll also need to ensure the soil is rich in nutrients, pH-balanced, well-draining, and water the plants regularly to keep them healthy and thriving.

Hydrangeas that Prefer Shade

While some hydrangeas thrive in full sun environments, many prefer partial shade or filtered sunlight. These types of hydrangeas usually have larger leaves and thinner stems that are more vulnerable to intense sunlight and heat.

One such hydrangea is the macrophylla hydrangea, also called the mophead hydrangea. This hydrangea is a popular choice for shady gardens and produces large balls of pink or blue flowers. Another shade-loving hydrangea is the lacecap hydrangea, which has delicate flowers in shades of blue, pink, or white. Both of these hydrangeas require partial shade or filtered sunlight to thrive.

When growing hydrangeas in a shaded area, it’s important to ensure the soil is well-draining and nutrient-rich. The soil’s pH level should be slightly acidic, and the ground should be moist but not waterlogged or muddy. Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

So, if you’re looking to grow hydrangeas in a shady area, it’s important to choose varieties that prefer partial shade or filtered sunlight. You’ll also need to ensure the soil is well-draining, nutrient-rich, and pH-balanced, and apply organic mulch to retain moisture and stabilize soil temperature.

Tips for Growing Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are a beautiful addition to any garden, but they can be challenging to grow without the proper care and attention. Here are some tips to help you grow healthy and vibrant hydrangeas:

  • Choose the right variety – As we’ve discussed, the amount of light that hydrangeas need varies depending on the species and cultivar. Before planting, be sure to research which type of hydrangea is suitable for your environment.
  • Soil preparation – Hydrangeas require well-draining soil that’s rich in nutrients. It’s essential to prepare the soil before planting by adding compost, manure, or other organic matter to improve soil quality.
  • Watering – Hydrangeas require a lot of water, especially during the growing season. Water your plants regularly, especially during hot or dry weather, to ensure that the soil remains moist and the plants don’t dry out.
  • Fertilizing – Fertilizers can help hydrangeas grow faster and produce more vibrant flowers. Use a balanced fertilizer in both spring and fall to nourish the plants and promote healthy growth.
  • Pruning – Pruning can help regulate the size and shape of your hydrangeas and promote healthy growth. However, be careful not to over-prune as this can reduce the plant’s flowering.
  • Winter care – If you live in an area with cold winters, it’s essential to protect your hydrangeas from freezing temperatures. Cover plants with burlap or other types of protective material to prevent damage.


Hydrangeas are beautiful flowering plants that provide stunning blooms in a variety of colors and styles. Deciding whether hydrangeas prefer sun or shade is one of the most common questions that gardeners face. As discussed in this article, most hydrangeas prefer shade, while some can tolerate more sunlight than others.

It is essential to research the specific type of hydrangea you have or plan to grow to ensure it receives the right amount of sunlight. Additionally, following the tips covered in this article will help you grow healthy and blooming hydrangeas in your garden. With a little effort and time, you can successfully care for and enjoy the beauty of your hydrangeas for years to come.

Hydrangeas   Updated: March 25, 2023
avatar Hi, I'm Amy, a devoted horticulturist and the creator of, where I use my expertise to help beginners foster their green thumbs. My blog is a vibrant community where I unravel the complexities of gardening and share my profound love for nature.
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