Climbing Hydrangea vs. False Hydrangea Vine

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Unlike other hydrangeas you may know, these vines use little rootlets to climb trees, walls, fireplaces, and other structures. In late spring/early summer, they’re covered in fragrant lacy blooms. At first glance, the differences between Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) and False Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides) may be too subtle to notice. But it’s their little differences that make them each oh so special. We’ll point out what makes them unique, then leave it to you to pick which is your favorite!

Close up of a climbing hydrangea with white flower-like blooms
Climbing Hydrangea
Close up of the white sail like bracts of the Flirty Girl False Hydrangea Vine
False Hydrangea Vine

Making showy flowers can be costly, so both plants strategize with flower heads consisting of both showy and non-showy flowers. The fertile flowers are the non-showy reproductive structures in the middle of the flower head, with showy sterile (infertile) flowers surrounding it to attract pollinators. The sterile flowers of Climbing Hydrangea resemble small white hydrangea flowers. False Hydrangea Vine has single, sail-like bracts instead. The results are two different lacy flowers with appealing textures and prominent fragrances!

The other main difference is that False Hydrangea Vine comes in various colored flowers and foliage. We offer it in white with Flirty Girl™ and in pink with Rose Sensation™. Climbing Hydrangea always keeps it classic with white flowers and lush green foliage. Climbing hydrangea doesn’t always require a trellis but will thrive with the added support or alongside a fence or wall. 

Close up of soft pink sail-like bracts blooming on the green foliage of a false hydrangea vine

Rose Sensation™ False Hydrangea Vine

Flirty Girl™ False Hydrangea Vine

What We Love About Them Both

Shade Tolerant, Totally Beautiful

Shade Tolerant

You can count on both Climbing Hydrangea and False Hydrangea Vine to bloom well, even in shaded conditions. We love them on the numerous cottonwood trees around our West Michigan headquarters. Because they don’t get heavy and woody like ivy, they don’t harm the tree. When not in bloom, they cloak whatever structure you train them on with lush glossy green foliage.

Climbing Hydrangea's dark green foliage speckled with large white blooms engulfing the trunk of a tree
Climbing hydrangea's dark green foliage dotted with white blooms creating an arch over a wooden gate

Worth The Wait

Both climbers take about two years to get established, but once they’ve developed a good root system, they easily cover a structure without overwhelming it. Train them to climb on trees, walls, fireplaces, or anything you want to hide in the garden. Their slow growth makes them very low maintenance!

Climbing Hydrangea for sale:

Learn more about the different types of hydrangeas with Proven Winners!

Written by: Miranda Niemiec, click here to read bio.

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