How To Care For 'Strawberry Sundae' Hydrangeas

Watch this Southern bloom put on a colorful show throughout the summer.

When a homeowner stumbles upon a landscaping problem, hydrangeas are always a trusty solution. Looking for an essential Southern flower to bring a garden to life? Hydrangeas. Wanting a low-maintenance perennial shrub that thrives in full sun? Hydrangeas. Hoping to boost curb appeal with colorful, heat-tolerant blooms? You guessed it—hydrangeas. There's a whole lot to love about the South's favorite flower. And here's yet another reason: a new selection called 'Strawberry Sundae' that puts on a colorful show throughout the summer.

The most exciting feature of the 'Strawberry Sundae' hydrangea is the stunning transition from white to pink to red throughout the season. Passersby will stop in their tracks on the sidewalk to marvel at the ombré-colored hydrangeas blooming throughout your landscape. Before adding to your yard, keep in mind the ASPCA reports hydrangeas are toxic to pets.

Pink and White strawberry sundae hydrangeas
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Plant Attributes

  • Common Name: Panicle hydrangea
  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea paniculata 'Rensun'
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Mature Size: 4-5 feet tall, 3-4 feet wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • Soil Type: Tolerates most soils if well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic to alkaline
  • Bloom Time: July to September
  • Flower Color: White to red as the weather cools
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-8 (USDA)
  • Native Area: Asia
  • Toxicity: Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses

Hydrangea Care

The 'Strawberry Sundae' hydrangea's compact size makes it a perfect fit for smaller outdoor spaces in USDA Zones 3-8. Caring for this shrub is fairly easy. It will grow only 3 to 4 feet wide and 4 to 5 feet tall, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in vibrant, showy blooms throughout the season. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade and provide medium moisture. Spring and fall are the best times to plant. This selection is a part of the tried-and-true panicle hydrangea family, home to other favorite varieties like 'Limelight' and 'Grandiflora.'


Panicle hydrangeas like 'Strawberry Sundae' can tolerate almost any type of soil, including clay, as long as it is well-drained. Add a layer of mulch to conserve moisture in dry areas. Soil pH levels do not affect the color of this variety of hydrangea.


Give these hydrangeas at least six hours of full sun for the best color and blooms. They need morning sun and afternoon shade in hotter climates.


Although panicle hydrangeas like 'Strawberry Sundae' are more drought tolerant than other types, they still need water regularly during the first year after planting to help get established. This hydrangea variety needs heavy watering once a week during hot weather in the summer. Continuing watering will promote flowering.

Temperature and Humidity

'Strawberry Sundae' hydrangeas can be grown in USDA Zones 3-8. They can withstand colder climates, and their white flowers turn to pink and then red as the temperatures cool. In summer, they are drought-tolerant and tolerate the heat when given morning sun and afternoon shade.


Though these shrubs are low-maintenance and don't require fertilizing, you can use a granular fertilizer each spring to encourage blooms and faster growth.


You don't need to prune hydrangeas, but doing so can encourage fuller growth, reenergize an older plant, or control size. Prune to remove any dead wood and shape the plant in winter, after blooming is over for the season.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Common pests to the 'Strawberry Sundae' hydrangea include aphids, spider mites, Japanese beetles, and slugs. Soapy water or natural pesticide will help you tackle the problem. While this variety of hydrangea is less susceptible to diseases than other hydrangeas, you may see bud blight, leaf spot, powdery mildew, or bacterial wilt. Overwatering and too much shade can cause or worsen these diseases. To treat, spray with fungicides and improve ventilation within and around the plant. Rake up, remove, and dispose of any diseased debris around the plant. Water near the roots of the plant rather than over the top of it.

How to Get 'Strawberry Sundae' to Bloom

Expect these shrubs to start sprouting mid-summer with creamy white conical blooms. Later, as nighttime temperatures begin to cool off, the color will start changing to rosy pink. The blooms will keep transitioning to a deep strawberry red by fall. At specific points in the process, the flowers will look like vanilla ice cream drizzled in strawberry sauce—truly living up to its name by reminding gardeners of a favorite refreshing summertime treat.

To get the most out of the blooming season, give these hydrangeas enough full sunlight each day for prolific blooms, water regularly to keep the plant healthy, and don't prune too early. Snip blooms right before their peak for longer-lasting cut arrangements. 'Strawberry Sundae' hydrangeas can also be grown in containers.

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