Bigleaf Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Mophead 'Nikko Blue'

Hydrangea macrophylla

Family: Hydrangeaceae (hy-drain-jee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hydrangea (hy-DRAIN-juh) (Info)
Species: macrophylla (mak-roh-FIL-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Nikko Blue
» View all varieties of Hydrangeas
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36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Medium Blue

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)

Dothan, Alabama

Gallion, Alabama

Haleyville, Alabama

Beverly Hills, California

Los Angeles, California

Sacramento, California

San Diego, California

San Fernando, California

San Francisco, California

Vallejo, California

Ocean View, Delaware

Alford, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Niceville, Florida

Plant City, Florida

Riverview, Florida

Saint Cloud, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

Cumming, Georgia

Norcross, Georgia

Patterson, Georgia

Roswell, Georgia

Woodbine, Georgia

Hampton, Illinois

Nilwood, Illinois

Quincy, Illinois

Westmont, Illinois

Evansville, Indiana

Petersburg, Indiana

Shawnee Mission, Kansas

Barbourville, Kentucky

Russell, Kentucky

, Manitoba

Mechanicsville, Maryland

Dracut, Massachusetts

Holliston, Massachusetts

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Detroit, Michigan

Mason, Michigan

Roseville, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan

Excelsior, Minnesota

Gloster, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

Madison, Mississippi

Fenton, Missouri

New Madrid, Missouri

Omaha, Nebraska

Amherst, New Hampshire

Bloomingdale, New Jersey

Buffalo, New York

East Hampton, New York

Elba, New York

Ithaca, New York

Southold, New York

Davidson, North Carolina

Matthews, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina (2 reports)

Akron, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Mansfield, Ohio

West Portsmouth, Ohio

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oregon City, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Salem, Oregon

Lansdowne, Pennsylvania

Mercer, Pennsylvania

Morrisville, Pennsylvania (2 reports)

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Shamokin, Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania (2 reports)

Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

Chapin, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Goose Creek, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Clarksville, Tennessee

Hixson, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Manchester, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee

Middleton, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Broaddus, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Hurst, Texas

Lumberton, Texas

Mexia, Texas

Nacogdoches, Texas

Pickton, Texas

Riverton, Utah

Bristow, Virginia

Gloucester, Virginia

Manassas, Virginia

Reston, Virginia

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Shoreline, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Amma, West Virginia

Falling Waters, West Virginia

Bayfield, Wisconsin

East Troy, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 6, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Here in Z6a, I generally prefer to plant 'Endless Summer' or one of the other cultivars that bloom on new growth as well as old.

As with all bigleaf hydrangeas, this shrub prefers afternoon shade, and usually does best with frequent irrigation. This is one of the most drought-sensitive plants I grow.

I do not give these winter protection here in Z6a, though they would benefit from it. This cultivar blooms on the previous season's growth only, and usually there's a fair amount of dieback, varying from year to year. I wait till the leaf buds swell before deadwooding in the spring, and that's fairly late in the spring---but otherwise it's impossible to tell how far down the dead wood extends.

Deadwooding involves a significant amount of work, but t... read more


On Nov 18, 2014, triniyard from Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago wrote:

I have grown this plant in a pot and it bloomed beautifully and then died. I live in the Caribbean where the temperatures range from 25C to 30C and there are 2 seasons - rainy (with high humidity) and dry.
I would like to grow this plant outdoors(or any Hydrangea that can stand up to the climate). Does anyone have any helpful comments?


On Jun 19, 2012, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I remember seeing these all over when I lived down south. Locally in central Illinois these can only be planted as an occasional ornamental. Suprisingly this last winter was so mild, I see deep blue Nikkos blooming all over this spring which for here is a site to behold. Many notherners dedicate a spot for this plant even if they only get flowers once every so many years. If I had the room I would do the same thing. One house nearby goes an extra mile to protect them in winter and has flowers every year.


On Jun 18, 2012, jazzy1okc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

I've had my Nikko Blue for about 7 years and my now 5 foot tall, 5 foot wide lovely specimen has bloomed reliably when protected from late freezes. It grows half under our carport on the south side of the house, I solved the watering issues by encircling it with recycled rubber soaker hose and mulching deeply on top of that with fine pine bark mulch. Pecan shell mulch attracted mice! I water it deeply once a week during drought. Great show this year after our mild winter!


On Mar 21, 2012, zkmayo from Matthews, NC wrote:

I several of these in my yard that I planted from 3 gallon containers a few years ago. Ive planted them over the years at every house Ive ever owned. They are, to me, the Flagship of the Hydrangeas; and rightfully so. Easy to grow, gorgeous, maintanence free (no need to ever prune), blue or pink (i prefer blue), and also they are extremely easy to propogate. I have taken cuttings last year and successfully transplanted a couple plants this spring. I plan on propogating many more this year and transplanting them this fall to the shady side of my house in the fall.


On Jul 24, 2011, blueballs from Montreal,Quebec
Canada wrote:

Hydrangeas "Nikko Blue" This is the king of my garden and it is so easy to grow.The trick is to leave this plant alone,its basically maintenance free.Also,never prune this plant after july 29th because you will lose next year flower crop.In the winter time,make sure the plant is completely covered with snow to protect it from the cold.Good luck!


On Jul 8, 2011, Ithiel from Dearborn Heights, MI (Zone 6b) wrote:

teamcrawford, a lot of Hydrangeas change colors based on the soil type. Alkaline soil will produce pink blooms and acidic soil will produce deeper blues.

Nikko Blue in general should tend to be more blue no matter what the soil type, at least I would think, but if they are in an area overly alkaline I could see them turning out pink.


On Jul 8, 2011, HamptonsGardener from East Hampton, NY wrote:

I had bad luck pruning these until I learned that early spring (March ) was the best time for my garden. Never had so many blooms!

Hera are some pics at


On Jun 28, 2011, teamcrawford from Bristow, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I hired a landscape architect who is a certified botanist to design a master plan for my landscaping. I love hydrandeas and specified blue. Phase 1 included planting three Nikko Blues. Right off the bat there was trouble. First, the blooms were pink when they arrived in the containers. I asked the landscaper about this and he said they start out pink and then turn blue. Well, I've scoured the internet and have not seen anything that confirms this. They are blooming profusely--in pink!

Second problem--within less than a week all three developed unsightly rusty blemishes on the leaves. The leaves are covered in them, as well as the new-growth stalks. Not one leave is left unscathed. I am hearsick! Landscaper says it's just shock, but I'm convinced they were diseased... read more


On Jun 11, 2011, annie63 from Bloomingdale, NJ wrote:

I bought one of these about 10 years ago and stuck it on a hillside that was barrent except for a very large oak and some small shrubs. I do absolutely nothing to it and it flourishes like crazy in the most gorgeous blue. My neighbors can see it from their window and comment on it every summer. It does get filtered shade and I did notice a lot of wilting last year in the horrible summer heat, but it held up. I don't cover in winter, although, I never get to rake the leaves over there till spring, so I suppose the oak mulches the hydrangea.

This year I don't have as many blooms on it (yet) and the ones I do have are all on one side for some reason; I'm wondering if I should divide it or just wait and see if the other part of the plant produces. It could be the weeping ch... read more


On Jul 17, 2010, jleesgarden from West Chester
United States wrote:

Nikko and other hydrangeas do very well in zone 6, my area. The thing about hydrangeas in general is that they do love direct sun but in the heat of the afternoon they like some dappled shade. I have mine near a pine tree so that it gets plenty of morning sun and the acidic pine needles that fall around are great for hydrangeas, especially if you want them blue. The more hot afternoon sun they get, the more you have to water them. Don't prune them until you see the blooms starting so you can tell which are dead stems. It is virtually impossible to tell before that. Some stems look dead, then you go back and sure enough there are some buds or leaves started. Most, if not all of them are like that.


On Apr 17, 2010, gardeningfun from Harpersfield, OH (Zone 5a) wrote:

I bought 6 of these from Michigan Bulb and only 3 survived at all after the first winter. They never mentioned covering them in winter, so I had no idea. They are advertised as being for zone 5a. The 3 that survived only had several leaves and no flowers at all last year. They look awful and only get 6 inches high at best. I did put straw over them this winter and am waiting to see how that did? I had no idea to cover them with cardboard and such. A friend said to cover them with straw. They are also in full sun and die back completely each winter. All that is there in spring, are several sticks coming out of the ground. I don't recommend them for this area.


On Nov 24, 2009, stormyla from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is definitely a high maintenance plant. It does bloom for me every year. However, it is necessary for me to protect it in the winter with a wire cage full of leaves. In the summer, it wilts everyday in the afternoon sun. Sometimes, it is necessary to water it twice daily or the blooms will wilt and not recover. I have it planted on the north side of the house under a large conifer.


On Jul 9, 2009, JoniJumpUp from Grand Rapids, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:

I got four of these plants in 1997 when doing some re-landscaping. I have moved them around the yard trying to find a spot they would be happy in. They seem to like bright shade. They grow well but flower poorly in my zone 5a. I dump a bag of peat moss on them each winter and it helps, but they still only put out a few flowers. and the leaves are often chlorotic which is a bother to deal with.


On Jun 9, 2009, juanmbravo from Akron, OH wrote:

I love this plant! I bought it in spring 2008 not knowing it will not flower in my area (Akron, OH, Z5) without protecting in in winter. After reading many sites I decided I wasn't going to dig my 5 plants out. I read about tying up the branches and then covering with burlap and mulch but the problems many people report are that the ends that carry the buds could be damaged or broken off even when inside the bag.... the snow could also put pressure on them or the wind could rub on them through the wrapping. I decided to go with a method I found on
This was on the website:
NOTE: As with several ... read more


On May 25, 2009, AliceinCT from Northfield, CT wrote:

This was given to me as a gift 10 years ago...purchased AT White Flower Farm which is in our home town so it should bloom here, right? (NW CT zones varies from road to road).

I heard that I should gently tie the stems all together so that the weight of the snow and ice doesn't flatten them and harm any buds. Did that and covered it with burlap. Moved it to a snug little corner to get nearby driveway and house heat....

This is the first year I've seen new growth on old wood but I don't see any signs of bloom it too early? Maybe I'll try a "cage" of leaves next winter and pine bows. Thanks!


On Oct 11, 2008, jengarden from Excelsior, MN wrote:

I have had success in MN with 5 mature beautiful plants. They are quite large, approx. 4' high and bloom on old wood every year. The blooms are pink because I have not attempted to fertilize for the blue color. However, this zone requires that the plants are well mulched in winter. I cover the plants with straw and leaves (mostly maple and ash) all the way up to the top. They are located on the edge of my driveway so they also get covered with a good layer of snow from the clearing of the driveway which provides good insulation from our severe MN winters. I have not lost a plant in 10 years. They do tend to fade in the summer afternoon heat and sun, but perk up after sun moves away. This plant is well worth the extra care in winter and spring.


On Apr 20, 2008, meg_e from Dallas, TX wrote:

I was surprised to find this in a pot that I saved from the bulk trash pick up. It was in one of three huge pots. It looked pretty dead. I've never had a hydrangea before so I'm just gonna wing it and hope I get a deal out of it. I pruned it back a good deal because it was a mess, and added some acidic plant food. Funny enough I found a plant tag on one of the dead branches. Good thing or I might have just chucked the whole mess. And now I know what it is and how to prep it. Hopefully, I didn't prune it back too much to get a bloom this year.


On Oct 11, 2006, Rikkashay from West Portsmouth, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have a Nikko Blue hydrangea and finally found a way to mulch it enough to get a minimal amount of blooms this year. I weaved what seemed to be dozens of pine boughs through the bare stems of the hydrangea last fall being careful of the flower buds forming and then added almost a bale of straw intermingled with the pine boughs and tucked the straw underneath it to the base of the plant. My bush is about 4' tall and 5" across. I had 9 blooms this year. However, I found another gardening website that shows a cage that you can construct and then fill with oak leaves or insulation materials that won't pack down. I think I might try that one, too. Until it all becomes a massive chore, I'll try anything to get more than just a few blooms.


On Jul 29, 2006, alddesigns from Saint Cloud, FL wrote:

I have four of this variety, two blue and two with more of a pinkish lavender cast. They aren't totally wild about the heat here, they get a bit droopy in the afternoon heat, but bounce back to normal after it cools a bit. They are beginning to settle in and seem to be satisfied with watering every other day.


On Jul 10, 2006, Leslie_Pz from Amherst, NH wrote:

This hydrangea is one of the happiest growers in my garden. Great new growth during the first year and very well established by Spring of third year.

This year however, we had the need to move it to another location where the plant receives morning light. Previously, the hydrangea received 4 hours of direct sunlight during the hottest time of the day and really caused the flowers to droop.

Wish our hydrangea and us luck with our new location!


On May 8, 2006, boneyween from Shawnee Mission, KS wrote:

In my experience, an important key to success with Nikko Blue is the location in which you plant it. I planted some on both the north and south sides of my house. The north side receives some sun until about noon, and the south side receives no sun, thanks to some very large trees. I expected they would do better on the south, due to the increased shade, but to my surprise, the north side plants were MUCH more successful. I believe this is due, in part, to the protection from the hot, summer winds that blow from the south.

Also, I believe that if you live in a cold winter area (I'm in zone 5b), it is important to provide winter protection by piling leaves over the plants in the fall. I first did this in the fall of 2004, and was shocked in the spring. The plants sprout... read more


On Dec 3, 2005, bigcityal from Menasha, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

I really hate to say I don't like this plant, but if you are growing it in my zone5a it is an accent plant at best - not a specimen. It has way too much winter dieback and few flowers.


On Jul 8, 2005, sksimonsen from Omaha, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

Planted in 2003 it did well from the nursery and in the following year; a late killing frost this spring killed back all the new buds on the old growth. But the plant survived and started to regrow from the base. By the end of June we had a half dozen large blooms. So it will definately bloom from new growth.


On Jun 10, 2005, cissyb from Woodbine, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I originally planted a couple of these plants under an oak tree. No matter what I did, I could not get it to thrive among the oak roots (as said earlier by another member). But this year, I built up a large raised bed around this oak tree, and this plant is just going wild, loads of beautiful blooms.


On Jun 9, 2005, 33libra from Winnipeg, MB (Zone 3a) wrote:

I am in Zone 3 and I planted Nikko Blue in 2002. Everyone told me it would never last in our climate but I planted it on my south side between my house and my neighbour's where I have a little microclimate. I love the blooms. I also have Pink Diamond, Unique, Annabelle and planted Endless Summer last summer.


On Apr 7, 2005, nikkoblue from Davidson, NC wrote:

I bought 2 Nikko Blue in 1 gal containers 10 years ago. They have bloomed more beautifully each year, and continually self layer and create more plants. I now have at least a dozen plants from the original 2, and have moved them around many times, and have never lost one to transplant shock. I have just started intentionally layering to increase the number of plants and will have several dozen soon! I have always been enchanted with these huge true blue blooms and delight all my neighbors with huge sprays of flowers as gifts thoughout the summer. The flowers last at least a week in a vase.


On Nov 22, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I purchased a Nikko blue hydrangea and planted it in spring of 2002. Unfortunately, receiving bad information, I over-fertilized it with aluminum sulfate during the summer and almost killed it. It was touch and go for a while, but it survived. I mulched it well for winter 2002 but in 2003 did not have any blooms whatsoever. I thought perhaps it was still recuperating from the trauma the year before. It was suggested to me (fall 2003) to cover the bare stems with leaves over the winter in our area for extra protection (Zone 5b), so I did.

In late summer,2004 - just when I'd given up hope of it blooming - it suddenly sprung a small but very beautiful blue bloom - just one. Of course one of my friendly deer population ate it before it ripened to be cut. But I am hopeful... read more


On Mar 7, 2004, aggiesmom from Wewoka, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Put out nursery stock in May 2003 and it bloomed well last summer. Seems to tolerate Oklahoma heat well as long as it is watered every other day unless there is rain.


On Oct 17, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

I was given H. m. 'Nikko Blue' as a rooted cutting many years ago from a distant friend. It flourished and gave me cuttings and bloomed well and grew to nearly 4' tall and wide. It responded well to cutting back (needed to keep a path clear) and definitely blooms on the same season's growth. In a place with short summers, I would advise pruning in fall.

When I moved, I brought a rooted cutting with me of course. It did not like being in lots of oak roots, but it sure likes the move to a more open soil!


On Jun 4, 2003, branka from Hobart, IN (Zone 5a) wrote:

I am in zone 5a and have grown Nikko Blue for over 20 years. It likes morning sun and profusely blooms big, beautiful, blue blossoms year after year. It does not tolerate late afternoon sun.


On Jan 16, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This shrub, sold by the thousands in cold climate areas, is not reliably winter-hardy in zone 4 or 5. It blooms on old wood, and therefore will not flower in the North, even though it is root-hardy through zone 4.