Zone 9 Hydrangeas: Growing Hydrangeas In Zone 9 Gardens

Zone 9 Hydrangeas: Growing Hydrangeas In Zone 9 Gardens

By: Liz Baessler

Hydrangeas are extremely popular plants to have in your flower garden, and for good reason. With their big displays of flowers that sometimes change color depending on the pH of the soil, they provide brightness and variety wherever they’re planted. But can you grow hydrangeas in zone 9 gardens? Keep reading to learn more about growing hydrangeas in zone 9 and caring for hot weather hydrangeas.

Growing Hydrangeas in Zone 9

While there are a few hot weather hydrangeas that can tolerate zone 9 gardens, it doesn’t usually just come down to temperature. Hydrangeas love water – that’s how they got their name. That means that if you live in a zone 9 that’s especially arid, you’re going to want to plant a hydrangea that’s especially drought tolerant.

If you live in a more moist part of zone 9, however, your options are much more open and really only restricted by temperature.

Popular Hydrangeas for Zone 9 Gardens

Oakleaf Hydrangea – If you live in an arid part of zone 9, such as California, the oakleaf hydrangea is a good choice. It has thick leaves that retain water well and help it get through periods of drought without having to be watered all the time.

Climbing Hydrangea – A vining variety of the plant, climbing hydrangeas can grow to be 50 to 80 feet in length (15-24 m.). After the leaves drop in the fall, the peeling bark of the vine is good for winter interest.

Smooth Hydrangea – A shrub that tends to reach 4 feet high by 4 feet wide (1.2 m. by 1.2 m.), smooth hydrangea produces huge clumps of flowers that can reach 1 foot in diameter (0.3 m.).

Bigleaf Hydrangea – Known especially for changing color with pH levels, bigleaf hydrangea shrubs bloom in the spring but will keep their flowers through the fall.

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Read more about Zone 9, 10 & 11

Optimal Temperature for Hydrangeas

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Hydrangea hardiness is an important factor to consider when choosing a species of this popular shrub for your garden. In general, hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.), which are known for their dense clusters of white, pink or blue flowers, can successfully overwinter in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8, according to HGTV. Each species has specific temperature, sunlight and watering needs. For best results, select a hydrangea species that is compatible with the climate in which you live.


How to Plant Hydrangeas

Growing hydrangeas successfully starts with the planting process. It's all about timing, location and healthy soil.

When to plant hydrangeas:

Container-purchased plants should be planted in spring or fall. Make sure there is no threat of frost when planting.

Where to plant hydrangeas:

  • The best location is one that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. If you live further north, they will tolerate more sun (possibly full sun all day).
  • Consider mature size, give it plenty of room to grow.
  • Choose an area with excellent drainage. Amend the soil with compost if necessary.
  • Don't plant beneath a tree—the root competition and lack of sunlight will prevent them from thriving.
  • Avoid planting in exposed areas where gusty winds could snap stems.

How to plant hydrangeas:

  • Get your plant off to a healthy start by amending your soil with up to 15% organic matter and an all-purpose slow-release fertilizer (use half of what is recommended).
  • Plant slightly higher than they were in the nursery container.
  • The planting hole should be 2 to 3 times wider than the root ball to give the roots plenty of room for expansion.
  • Gently loosen potbound roots before planting.
  • Backfill with the amended soil and water well.
  • If planting a grouping, space at least 3 feet apart (more, if planting larger varieties).

Planting hydrangeas in pots:

  • Use a bagged potting mix rather than garden soil.
  • Mix in a slow-release fertilizer.
  • Leave 1 to 2 inches between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot for watering.
  • Make sure the pot has drainage holes and has room for the plant to grow.

Full Sun

The most sun tolerant hydrangea is probably panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8. It grows between 10 and 20 feet tall with an equal spread and can be grown as a shrub or small tree. It features pyramid-shaped flower panicles that appear anywhere from late July through September and age from white to pink. One well-known variety of panicle hydrangea, "Grandiflora" (Hydrangea paniculata "Grandiflora") is often sold as PeeGee Hydrangea. PeeGees are noted for their large flowerheads.

Easy Does It: Best Hydrangeas for Beginners to Grow

Hydrangeas are versatile and easy to grow. They are not at all particular about where they’re planted. All they need is well-drained soil, some water and a little bit of shade during hot summer days.

Find out even more about hydrangea care in our Complete Hydrangea Guide!

Oakleaf varieties are the easiest type of hydrangeas for beginners to grow.

Why are oakleaf hydrangeas so easy? They aren’t picky! Oakleaf hydrangeas can tolerate colder weather, handle more sun, withstand drought, are more disease/pest resistant and grow in sandy soil better than other hydrangeas.

The catch? All oakleaf hydrangea varieties are white.

Here are the best hydrangeas for beginners to grow.

Photo courtesy of Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Alice Hydrangea – Big, strong and beautiful! Alice was dubbed the most robust and trouble-free hydrangea by the University of Georgia. Be warned, Alice is a big gal and can grow to be 15’ tall with a 15’ spread.

Hydrangea Type: Oakleaf

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Light: Full-partial sun

Size: 5-15’ H x 5-15’ W

Blooms: June-July. Giant, cone-shaped blooms that smell great and fade to pink

  • Native
  • Beautiful burgundy and bronze fall foliage
  • Somewhat deer resistant.

Soil: Not picky about soil type or soil pH

Photo courtesy of Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Snowflake Hydrangea – Enjoy the beauty of snowflakes in the middle of summer. Snowflake hydrangeas have the longest bloom time of any oakleaf hydrangea. Plus, its double blossoms make it really stand out! It’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular hydrangeas.

Hydrangea Type: Oakleaf

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Light: Partial sun. Can adapt to full-sun if watered often

Size: 5-10’ H x 5-10’ W

Blooms: June-late summer. Stark white, double blossom blooms that look like snowflakes and fade to pink then brown

  • Fast growing
  • Native
  • Double blossom
  • Intense maroon fall foliage

Soil: Rich, moist soil

Photo courtesy of Monrovia

Ruby Slippers Hydrangea – Tiny but mighty! Growing no taller than 4’, this compact hydrangea explodes with 9” flower blooms. And those blooms can last up to two months. If you think you don’t have room for a hydrangea, think again. Ruby Slippers will fit in even the smallest garden!

Hydrangea Type: Oakleaf

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Light: Full-part sun

Size: 3-5’ H x 4-5’ W

Blooms: Early-mid-summer. Gigantic white blooms that quickly transform into a rosy color

  • Compact
  • Long-lasting, pink blooms
  • Thrives in heat, drought and poor soil
  • Striking crimson fall foliage that stays on through early winter

Soil: Well-drained soil

Once established, fertilize your oakleaf hydrangea with Espoma’s Plant-tone every spring.

Learn about hydrangeas that bloom all summer. Find out even more about hydrangea care in our Ultimate Hydrangea Guide!

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