Best Hydrangeas for the Chicago Area

Q. What types of hydrangeas can be successfully grown in the Chicago area?

A. The Garden has many examples of hardy hydrangeas. They are a wonderful choice when you are looking for a flowering shrub for a partly shaded or sunny, moist area of your garden. Several varieties have an exfoliating or peeling cinnamon bark that remains attractive all year. The flowerheads of some species change color as they develop, moving from a whitish-green to pale pink and finally to a bronzed look that often persists through winter. The old-fashioned, heavy, round flowerheads are found on Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' or 'Grandiflora'. The cone-shaped flowerheads belong to the Hydrangea paniculata group — 'Grandiflora', 'Tardiva' or 'Unique'. For a coarser, more naturalistic look, the oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia. Hydrangea quercifolia, is a good choice, and it provides outstanding fall color. If you want a woody vine with the flat hydrangea flowers, consider climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris.