03 Smooth Hydrangea – 2024 Native Plant of the Year

By Ann Lapides

Creating an ethereal site in the shade garden Smooth Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens, is a cherished native shrub. Honey-scented clouds of large, 2-6″ creamy white, dome-shaped flowers appear for months beginning in May. Smooth Hydrangea will flower abundantly from May through July, with a scattering of additional flowers appearing into September. Its large flowers are held on sturdy, non-drooping stems. The nectar-rich flowers are visited by bees, butterflies, and many other pollinators, creating a living hub of pollinator activity. The shrub matures to 3-5′ tall and wide.

Smooth Hydrangea works well massed as a hedge, in a mixed garden, or as a specimen. It can be naturalized in woodland, native, or rain gardens. Smooth Hydrangea forms a luscious background for perennial gardens. Plant a few Smooth Hydrangea behind an ornamental bench to create a beautiful spot to enjoy nature. Its flowers are fantastic, fresh or dried.

The Missouri Botanical Gardens designated it a Plant of Merit for its outstanding ornamental value and dependable landscape performance. It is a featured plant of the Missouri Prairie Foundation Grow Native Pollinator Buffect program, a collection of plants identified as important to pollinators. Growing instructions: Smooth hydrangea is easy to grow. It tolerates many different soils and moisture conditions. It prefers shade to part shade and even grows in deep shade. 

See Smooth Hydrangea and more plants at www.sugarcreekgardens.com.

Sugar Creek Gardens
1011 N Woodlawn
Kirkwood MO 63122