20 Dreamy Hydrangea Gardens That Are Giving Us Major Inspiration

French Hydrangeas
Photo: Ralph Lee Anderson

Looking for a versatile, fast-growing, flowering shrub with long-lasting blooms in beautiful colors? Start dreaming about growing hydrangeas—the South's favorite flower—in your garden. Whether you're new to growing hydrangeas, or you already have them in your landscape, these beautiful hydrangea gardens are full of ideas on how to use them in masses, borders, containers, and paired with compatible plants. To get started, we rounded up our favorite hydrangeas to inspire our gardens with practical tips for making sure these colorful shrubs thrive.

01 of 21

Hydrangea Stairs

Blue blooming hydrangea bushes along stone stairs with coleus in planters

Who cares where the stairs lead when they're flanked by hydrangeas? Contrasting coleus add to the dramatic setting. Hydrangeas' light needs vary depending on the variety, some prefer shade while others need full morning sun with afternoon shade. For shade-loving hydrangeas, check out this guide to varieties that prefer full shade to filtered light.

02 of 21

Southern Hydrangeas

Pretty Hydrangeas Below White Porch
Via Pinterest/Southern Living/Ralph Anderson

There's nothing more Southern than a wide front porch—unless, of course, that front porch is seemingly built on a foundation of hydrangeas. This mixture of pink and purple blooms is a unique feature of hydrangeas. Some varieties react to the soil's level of acidity or alkalinity, which shows up in the colors of the blooms. "In fact, a hydrangea can have different bloom colors on the same bush if the roots of the plant sample soils of differing pH," explains chemist Henry Schreiber in American Scientist magazine.

See Pin

03 of 21

Secret Garden of Hydrangeas

Green lawn with hydrangea bushes surrounding it
Ralph Anderson

A vast green lawn surrounded by blooming hydrangea shrubs makes a magical spot for tea, croquet, or basking in the sunshine. Many hydrangeas like morning sun with afternoon shade, make sure to check the light needs of the variety selected before choosing a planting location. In the South, hydrangeas can be planted in spring or in the fall before the first frost, which allows them to establish their root system. Fall is the best time to plant hydrangeas because there is more lead time for root growth, but spring is alternately a good time also.

04 of 21

A Summertime Classic

Blue blooming hydrangeas next to gravel path
Van Chaplin

We love learning about new hydrangea varieties, but there's something nostalgic about these striking flowers in their signature blue. The most classic variety is French hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), also called bigleaf hydrangeas, have large round flowers, called mopheads, that come in a range of blue, pink, and white hues. To learn how to care for French hydrangeas, check out this growing guide.

05 of 21

Doorway to Paradise

Garden with Arched pergola gate and hydrangea bushes
Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Pink and purple hydrangeas fill this green garden with color. A sweet table for two gives the gardeners a spot to enjoy their bounty. With French hydrangeas, gardeners can amend the soil to change the color of the blooms. For pink hydrangeas, amend the soil to be more alkaline, add lime. For blue hydrangeas, amend the soil to be more alkaline with garden soil. Learn more about changing your hydrangea's color, whether pink, blue, purple or a combination, with this guide.

06 of 21

Cutting Garden

Hydrangea bloom cuttings on table in garden

Hydrangeas are a treat to enjoy outside, but being able to cut your own blooms and bring them indoors is another benefit of these gorgeous shrubs. To extend the life of your cut hydrangeas, which need lots of hydration, dip the ends in alum powder. Alum powder, available in the spice aisle in grocery stores, helps cut flowers take in more water.

07 of 21

Hydrangea Explosion

Hydrangea shrub blooming next to white picket fence
Van Chaplin

A stand-alone hydrangea shrub becomes a wild eruption of color against a white picket fence. Hydrangeas don't need a lot of pruning, if you prune too much or at the wrong time, it could prevent the plant from blooming. Knowing your hydrangea variety is key to timing—this pruning guide provides a seasonal calendar for common types of hydrangeas.

08 of 21

Strawberry Sundae

Pink and White strawberry sundae hydrangeas
Getty Images

Better than a trip to the ice cream parlor, these compact blooms put on a summertime show in small outdoor spaces. 'Strawberry Sunday' is a panicle hydrangea that changes from white to pink to red during the growing season. These compact-sized hydrangeas bloom from July to September and grow only 3 to 4 feet wide and 4 to 5 feet tall.

09 of 21

Hydrangea Trees

Limelight Hydrangea Tree in basket planter
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

A welcoming site by the front door, a hydrangea tree draws the eye up. Keep things casual with a basket planter or go all out with porcelain blue and white. For more inspiring ways to grow hydrangeas in containers, from terracotta pots to window boxes, explore this round up of ideas that includes which companion plants to pair with hydrangeas in planters.

10 of 21

Why Didn't My Hydrangeas Bloom?

Hydrangeas define the South like sweet tea and cornbread, and growing them can be easy if you know how. The Grumpy Gardener shares his tips for growing beautiful blooms. They can help you to enjoy these gorgeous flowers year after year.

11 of 21

Blooms by the Water

Log cabin on the lake with hydrangea bushes
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Page Mullins

This Georgia lake house is ready for guests with rows of striking hydrangeas and a canine companion serving as a summer welcome party. In this garden layout, the height of the hydrangeas doesn't block the view of the lake and cabin. When planning your hydrangea garden, look at the maturity size, spacing requirements, and light needs to choose the right variety for planting in borders and masses.

12 of 21

Cheaper by the Dozen

Pink, Blue, and Purple Hydrangea shrubs
Getty Images

Rows of hydrangeas in blue, pink, and purple show off all the color possibilities of this beloved Southern bloom. When planting in masses, space French hydrangeas 3 to 4 feet apart. With new plants, water consistently for the first few years. Keep hydrangeas hydrated with a deep soak once or twice a week to reach the roots. Established French hydrangeas need an inch or more of water weekly during the growing season.

13 of 21

Rustic Hydrangeas

Purple hydrangeas against rustic fence and gate
Rosmarie Wirz/Getty Images

We love the combination of the weathered wood fence and the stunning hydrangea blossoms. When choosing a site to plant hydrangeas, the soil should be loamy, well-drained soil with lots of nutrients—avoid rocky, dry soil, according to Southern Living's gardening expert Steve Bender. Amend soil as necessary with materials like compost, manure, wood clippings, and sphagnum peat moss.

14 of 21

Green with Envy

Green hydrangea tree in front yard
Van Chaplin

In a soft lime shade, these sweet blooms blend into the landscape to create a heavenly hydrangea backdrop. For a more neutral palette for your garden, there are many hydrangea varieties that bloom in whites and lime greens. Explore dwarf varieties like 'Little Lime,' 'Little Honey,' and 'Invincibelle Limetta' or go with the larger classics like 'Annabelle' and 'Limelight.'

15 of 21

Cottage Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Flowering Plants In Yard in front of window with blue shutters
David Bise/EyeEm/Getty Images

No window boxes needed here. Blooming hydrangeas, shutters, and ivy perfectly frame this cottage window. With the right variety, hydrangeas can be scaled to your garden's space. Compact hydrangeas pair well with cottage gardens that tend to be smaller and full of a variety of plants. For the best options for small garden spaces, explore these compact hydrangea varieties.

16 of 21

Hydrangea Party

Hydrangea Shrubs with party in the background
Ralph Anderson; Styling: Scott Martin

When your hydrangeas are in bloom, go ahead and celebrate with all your friends. Hydrangeas like companions too! Annuals, like zinnias and snapdragons, ornamental grasses, hostas, ferns, evergreens like camellias and purple loropetalum, and small-to-medium sized trees, like dogwoods, make good companion plants for hydrangeas.

17 of 21

Beyond the Garden Gate

Blue hydrangea along the white fence
Getty Images

For a dreamy summertime entry, blue hydrangeas cascade over this picture-perfect white picket fence. The way you water is just as important as how much you water hydrangeas. Make sure to water hydrangeas at the base or roots with drip irrigation or soaker hoses. Overhead watering can cause diseases like cercospora leaf spot, a fungus, to form on the leaves.

18 of 21

Blooms on Overdrive

Blue hydrangeas in the sunlight
Mercedes Rancaño Otero/Getty Images

If your hydrangeas look like this, you've reached ultimate garden goals. To achieve a bold, blue hue to French hydrangeas, try tweaking the soil with coffee grounds. French hydrangeas require acidic soil to turn blooms blue. In late fall, months ahead of the blooming season, work coffee grounds into the soil around your hydrangeas, and repeat this application two to three times a year.

19 of 21

A Southern Welcome

Blue and pink hydrangea shrubs against house
Ralph Anderson

When you arrive home, there's no better sight than hydrangeas growing near your front porch. To create a welcoming Southern garden, choose varieties of hydrangeas that thrive in in the South. Learn more about the wide selection of hydrangeas favored by Southern gardeners before your next planting.

20 of 21

Among the Trees

Dirt road with hydrangea shrubs and archway of trees
Getty Images

Growing at the base of this tree-lined entry, blue hydrangeas create a fairytale scene. When planting hydrangeas near trees, check with your nursery to see how much spacing is ideal in order to protect the existing root system. Trees that pair well with hydrangeas are dogwood, crepe myrtle, and holly, according to Southern Living Plants, and for shrubs, consider yew, mahonia, boxwood, and gardenias.

21 of 21

Fairest of Them All

Purple and Blue hydrangeas along gravel path
Ralph Anderson

For a Southern gardener, there are few summertime scenes as sweet as a wall of fluffy hydrangeas in varying hues. Hydrangeas bloom spring through fall depending on the variety. French and oak leaf hydrangeas bloom in spring and summer, mountain and smooth hydrangeas bloom in the summer, and panicle hydrangeas bloom from summer into the fall, according to Southern Living's gardening expert Steve Bender.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles