Hydrangeas are well known for their exquisite blooms and vibrant colors and have captured the hearts of gardeners around the world.
They will add some much-needed beauty and color to any garden and this makes them such a popular plant with gardeners.
However, understanding the lifecycle and growing patterns of these flowers is essential to properly caring for and cultivating them.
That means understanding whether hydrangeas are annual or perennial flowers.
In this article, we will take a closer look at hydrangeas and answer the question of whether they are annual or perennial plants.
The answer to this question is not as easy as you might think as although they are perennial plants, they can act like annuals under certain conditions.
Join us as we take an in-depth look at hydrangeas and how to properly care for them. With our hints and tips, you will have beautifully blooming hydrangeas year after year!
All About Hydrangeas
Let’s begin by taking a closer look at hydrangeas. There are many different varieties of hydrangeas so if you decide to plant some in your backyard you will have plenty of choice!
Some of the smallest hydrangeas will grow to sizes of only three feet tall and wide but others can reach much larger sizes.
The largest hydrangeas can grow up to 15 feet tall and around 12 feet wide, so make sure that you have the space for whichever variety you choose.
Hydrangeas can be grown across the US in hardiness zones three to nine. This means they can be grown across the vast majority of the continental United States.
The majority of hydrangeas prefer to grow in partly shaded areas but there are some varieties that will thrive in either full sun or even full shade.
The amount of sunlight they can tolerate will also depend on how strong the sun is in your area. In the north of the country, they can take more sun, whereas, in the Southern States, they prefer limited sunshine.
Hydrangeas typically bloom throughout the summer. Some will bloom early in the season and others may bloom through to fall.
When they bloom you will see a range of different colors. The most common colors are pink, purple, and blue but you can also find hydrangeas in green, white, and red.
The colors can change depending on age and with the right soil composition, you can alter these colors slightly with some varieties.
Annuals Or Perennials?
If we’re going to answer whether hydrangeas are annual or perennial plants, we should first explain exactly what these terms mean.
It’s also important to keep in mind that plants are necessarily one or the other as some plants can be annuals in some hardiness zones but perennials in others, depending on the conditions!
Annuals are plants that go through their entire life cycle within a single growing season. These plants germinate from seeds, grow, produce flowers, and produce their own seeds in one single season.
The primary objective of annual plants is to ensure successful reproduction through seed production.
Annuals are able to continuously bloom throughout the growing season until their reproductive mission is accomplished.
You can keep this period of blooming happening by regularly removing faded flowers, a technique known as deadheading, until the arrival of the first frost.
Marigolds and petunias are perfect examples of flowering garden annuals. They exhibit the characteristic traits of annual plants by completing their life cycle within one year and have stunning blooms that bring color and beauty to gardens.
By understanding the life cycle and reproductive strategies of annuals, gardeners can appreciate the short-lived yet spectacular display of these plants.
We can also ensure that these annual plants continue their cycle of growth, flowering, and seed production year after year.
We’ll sneak in a quick couple of sentences here to explain the term “biennial.” This is used for plants that take two years to grow. The first year is typically spent growing from a seed to produce the roots, stems, and leaves.
The second year then builds on this to grow the flowers, seeds, and any fruit. Instead of completing the cycle in one year, like annuals, it happens across two.
Perennials are plants that have a lifespan of more than two years. In regions with cold climates, the above-ground growth of perennials will typically die back during frosty periods and regrow again in the following spring.
When provided with favorable growing conditions, perennials can thrive and persist for an extended period.
Perennials can be very rewarding to grow at home and with the right care and attention, you can have continually growing plants in your garden that will last for years.
Some of the most famous examples of perennials include Hostas, irises, and lavender. By understanding the longevity and propagation techniques of perennials, gardeners can enjoy the benefits of these enduring plants in their gardens.
What Are Hydrangeas Classed As?
All varieties of hydrangeas are perennials. Their life cycles do not complete in a single season so they are perennial plants.
In fact, if you were to plant hydrangeas from seeds and grow them from this state, you wouldn’t see any flowers for at least two to three years.
Hydrangeas are actually classed as woody perennials, which sets them apart from soft-stemmed plants like Hostas.
Unlike these softer and more tender perennials that experience dieback during frost, woody perennials, like hydrangeas, are more resistant to the cold.
Some hydrangeas have been known to thrive and endure for up to fifty years, as long as they receive proper care and sufficient sunlight.
Hydrangeas As Annuals
Although we stated that hydrangeas are perennials, they can, in certain circumstances, be treated like annual plants.
There are a wide variety of hydrangeas available and if you pick a variety that is not suited to the climate of your region, it can act like an annual plant.
If you choose a hydrangea variety that likes warmer temperatures but you live in a cooler part of the US, the hydrangea may not make it through the winter.
Oddly enough, a hydrangea that prefers cooler temperatures in a warmer climate can suffer the same fate!
Some gardeners like to treat hydrangeas as annual plants, especially if they’re not planted in the garden.
Hydrangeas In Containers And Window Boxes
Hydrangeas can live a happy life in pots and window boxes and are commonly used in both. They’re a great explosion of color that is easy to look after and they don’t require too much space to spread out and grow.
Many people that grow plants in pots and window boxes opt for annual plants instead of perennials. This makes these containers the ideal choice for hydrangeas that are being treated as annual plants instead of perennials.
Check your local garden center and you will probably find hydrangeas sold in small pots that are ideal for planting in smaller spots like window boxes.
If you don’t have a yard or don’t have space for hydrangeas, containers and window boxes are the ideal way to add hydrangeas without much fuss.
When you buy hydrangeas from a garden center or nursery, there is always a chance that your hydrangea will not survive more than a year. This is because many are grown in greenhouses and become accustomed to the warm conditions there.
When they’re exposed to the cooler outdoors, it can be a shock and will prevent them from acting like the perennials that they are.
Tips For Healthy Hydrangeas
Here are some tips for growing the healthiest hydrangeas.
- Ensure they have good drainage
- Don’t plant beneath a tree
- Give them room to grow
- Shelter them from strong winds
- Mulch annually
- Keep the soil moist but not wet
- Keep them tidy but avoid major pruning
In this article, we answered the question of whether hydrangeas are annual or perennial plants.
We found that hydrangeas are perennials and take two to three years to grow from seeds. They can survive the winter and will bloom again the next year.
However, if a variety of hydrangea is planted in a climate that doesn’t suit it, it can act as an annual plant. It’s also possible to treat hydrangeas as annual plants on purpose if you wish.