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PlantFiles: Smooth Hydrangea, Wild Hydrangea, Sevenbark
Hydrangea arborescens

Family: Hydrangeaceae (hy-drain-jee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hydrangea (hy-DRAIN-juh) (Info)
Species: arborescens (ar-bo-RES-senz) (Info)

» View all varieties of Hydrangeas

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6 members have or want this plant for trade.

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
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:
Partial to Full Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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5 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Jan 4, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I like the mother or straight species better than the cultivars. The cultivars bear the mophead flower clusters, which are all sterile flowers, not useful for pollinators, and therefore mutated. I finally found it planted at Tyler Arboretum near Media, PA, and near Marshalton, PA. The wild form has both fertile flowers in the middle and sterile flowers on the edges; a lacecap type of inflorescence. The stems of the wild species do not lodge over like the mopheads.

Positive ifonly On Jun 20, 2006, ifonly from Brookfield, CT wrote:

I have Annabelles in a hedge beside the drive. As usual, I was a little late for spring pruning, but I overcame my guilt at cutting off breaking leaves and cut each plant back to 9-12 inches. Actually even fertilized for once. Well...

Best thing I ever did - many blooms are forming and each shrub looks terrific.

In past years, blooms have been huge. There are more forming this year, so I expect smaller blooms. Which might be an okay thing since the monster blooms are so heavy.

Love the bright white and later chartreuse of Annabelle's blooms. Very cooling on a hot summer day.

Positive wooffi On Jun 19, 2006, wooffi from Arlington, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Just would like to point out that this is just the plain Hydrangea arborescens that is common throughout our West Tennessee woodlands.

Positive lmelling On Dec 9, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Most people think of cultivars like 'Annabelle' when they see references to Hydrangea arborescens, but 'Annabelle' is only one, and a cultivated form of this species, there are many other wild and cultivated forms as well that display a wide range of flower types.

Hydrangea arborescens consists of a large number of lesser known species as well that grow wild, and a few better known cultivars like 'Annabelle', 'Grandiflora' and others. In particular, along mountain trails in various places in the eastern U.S., from southern NY state to Florida and westward into Iowa and Missouri, you will see these wild varieties blooming in large colonies in filtered light along roadways, under the canopy of forest trees, along riverbanks, and in deep ravines. Most of the species in the wild have flowers with limited showy sepals and consist of mostly fertile flowers, but occasionally there might be a large snowball like flowerhead.

There are also several sub-species of H. arborescens, like 'radiata', which produce more ray-flowers than other wild arborescens; and 'discolor', which has more fertile flowers and may only have a couple showy sepals. Subspecies 'discolor' grows at lower elevations than subspecies 'radiata'. All grow in cool, moist habitats in shade. Subspecies 'discolor' has a grayish underside on the leaves.

In sub-species 'radiata', the upper surface of the leaves has hairs along the veins. The underside of the leaf is more of a silver-white, and covered with a thick fabric of white hairs that microscopically appear woven like a carpet. This sub-species is also not as comfortable in heat or during times of drought, it is also more difficult to root from cuttings.

Zone hardiness in all H. arborescens is 3 to 9. Information from "Hydrangeas for American Gardens," by Michael A. Dirr (2004).

Positive Wintermoor On May 23, 2002, Wintermoor from Jesteburg-Wiedenhof
Germany (Zone 8a) wrote:

A beautiful plant, which can be grown either in the ground, or in a large container. My H. aborescens grows in a halfed whisky barrel.
Easy to grow, and beginners can feel very satisfied with this one.


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

Morrilton, Arkansas
Brookfield, Connecticut
Braselton, Georgia
Barbourville, Kentucky
Cumberland, Maryland
Chaska, Minnesota
Hastings, Minnesota
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Media, Pennsylvania
Watsontown, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Arlington, Tennessee
Hixson, Tennessee
Yakima, Washington

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