How To Keep White Hydrangeas White

Plus we’re naming the easiest care white hydrangea variety out there. 

Close-Up Of White Hydrangea Flowers
Photo: Getty Images

Before investing in hydrangeas, you might be wise to do a little research. Whether it's how to care for hydrangeas, the sun requirements for hydrangeas, or even how tolerant or cold hardy your particular hydrangea variety is, knowing what you're getting yourself into before you embark on the journey will be worth the effort.

One of the most popular questions surrounding hydrangeas is how to change their color, but what if you don't want to change their color at all but keep them the bright shade of ivory that you started with? Kip McConnell, director of Southern Living Plant Collection, has shared with us all the details on how to make the most of your white hydrangeas, from selecting the appropriate variety for your garden to whether or not you can change their color.

Annabelle hydrangea
Getty Images

Can White Hydrangeas Change Color?

So you bought blue hydrangeas and they turned pink? Or you selected a variety with the most stunning magenta petals only to see it morph into a different shade by the next season? While the color of blue and pink hydrangeas is impacted by soil pH, white hydrangeas will stay white regardless of the soil makeup. Which is good news for those looking to ensure their pretty ivory-toned blooms stay that way. That being said, there will be a natural evolution of their color as the seasons progress, but instead of playing against it, you'll be best served by embracing it.

"Many white hydrangeas begin their blooming seasons with bright yellow-green buds that shift to crisp white as the season changes," McConnell says. "As fall approaches, some varieties will dry out to an antiqued white or warm tan." He suggests leaving these blooms on the plant for a little wintertime visual interest or adding them to dried arrangements or fall wreaths.

Kip McConnell

[White hydrangeas] make perfect additions to cut flower gardens—large enough to serve as a hedge or border, they provide structure to cut flower gardens, while still supplying ample blooms.

Kip McConnell

How To Select a White Hydrangea

There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a white hydrangea variety, starting with appearances. "You want to look for a hydrangea that will hold its color, offer big, showy flowers, and be easy to care for," says McConnell. Strong stems and branches will produce the showiest results, keeping those big blooms upright and front and center. Determining your sun requirements and how much care you're willing to commit are also important factors to keep in mind before making your white hydrangea selection.

Dafinchi/Getty Images

The Best White Hydrangea Varieties

There are a variety of white hydrangeas to choose from whether you're looking for cold hardy and drought tolerant varieties or those that will grow quickly.

  • White Wedding hydrangea is a beautiful option for an impactful cluster within the garden, an accent planting, or a cut flower.
  • McConnell also recommends Tara hydrangea, "a beautiful oak leaf hydrangea that produces dazzling double white panicles in spring with the bonus of rich red-hued foliage in the fall."
  • And if you're looking for something a little daintier, the lacecap varieties, including the Cloud Nine hydrangea, are a great option. They feature short flowers in the middle, surrounded by more prominent petals.

The Best Easy Care Hydrangea Variety

For a hydrangea variety that thrives in both urban and rural environments, is deer resistant, and grows quickly (up to two feet per year!) in climates up to USDA Zone 9b, McConnell suggests the panicle hydrangea or Hydrangea paniculate.

"Panicle hydrangeas offer iconic cone-shaped, blossom-packed flower spikes that are renowned for their easy care, cold hardiness, and drought tolerance," says McConnell. Strong stems will be especially important when it comes to panicle hydrangeas as their heavy flowers can weigh down branches.

The White Wedding panicle hydrangea variety is renowned for its easy care. "Gardeners are rewarded with copious showy blooms that extend through many months of the year," said McConnell.

Smooth Hydrangea
Liudmyla Liudmyla/Getty Images

How to Best Care for Your White Hydrangeas

The best thing you can do for your white hydrangeas is to take good care of them. Hydrangeas are happiest in well-drained, well-fertilized soil. In the summer, they love a good drink of water and some afternoon shade, just like all of us Southerners do. Make to water them well, just don't overwater to the point of root rot. Fertilizing the soil well with slow-releasing fertilizer will promote growth and give your hydrangeas the nutrients it needs to stay happy and healthy. Caring well for your white hydrangeas will keep them looking vibrant, and give you those bright beautiful bulbs you desire.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles