Last Updated on July 27, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas
The growth rate of climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) is considered slow to moderate. It typically grows about 1 to 2 feet per year under favorable conditions. However, it may take a few years for the plant to establish itself and start vigorous growth, eventually covering large areas with beautiful, climbing foliage and flowers.
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What Is The Growth Rate Of Climbing Hydrangea?
The growth rate of a climbing hydrangea can be described in stages over several years:
- Establishment Phase (Year 1-2): During the first year of planting, climbing hydrangeas focus on root development and acclimating to their new environment. Growth may be minimal, with the plant primarily investing energy in establishing a strong root system. In the second year, the plant starts to show more visible growth, adding about 1 to 2 feet in length per year.
- Early Growth Phase (Year 3-4): By the third year, the climbing hydrangea begins to exhibit more vigorous growth. It can add approximately 2 to 4 feet in length per year, covering trellises, fences, or walls more effectively. This phase marks the transition to a more established and robust plant.
- Maturity Phase (Year 5 and beyond): As the climbing hydrangea matures, its growth rate increases further. It can grow about 3 to 6 feet per year or more, especially in optimal growing conditions. At this stage, the plant becomes a prolific climber, creating a lush and beautiful display of foliage and flowers.
What Is A Climbing Hydrangea?
Climbing hydrangeas are flowering and deciduous vines native to Asia. Its botanical name is Hydrangea anomala and is under the plant’s class of vines. They use holdfasts or suckers found on their branches to help them scale up on walls and other plants or structures. For this reason, they can be known as climbers. You can plant them as a bush or use them to enhance the visual appearance of your walls or other landscape structures. Other than being eye-catching, they produce fragrant and lacy white flowers at the beginning of the summer season.
When their flower heads dry out, they turn reddish-brown, and they can be used in crafting by farmers. Some people wait until the bark begins to peel and the entire plant dies so that they can use it to craft.
Types of Climbing Hydrangea
There are two main types of climbing hydrangeas, each with its unique characteristics:
- Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea):
- Native to Asia, specifically China, Japan, and South Korea.
- Features large, heart-shaped, dark green leaves that turn yellow in autumn, adding to the plant’s ornamental appeal.
- Produces beautiful, lacy, white flower clusters known as corymbs in late spring to early summer. These fragrant blooms attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
- Exhibits a vigorous climbing habit, using aerial rootlets to adhere to walls, fences, and other vertical surfaces. It can climb up to 50 feet or more in height.
- Tolerant of shade and partial sunlight, making it suitable for shaded areas in the garden.
- Once established, it is relatively low maintenance, requiring occasional pruning to maintain shape and control growth.
- Climbing Hydrangea is a popular choice for covering large walls or creating a lush green backdrop in the landscape.
- Hydrangea seemannii:
- Native to Mexico and Central America, specifically the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.
- Features smaller, elongated, and pointed leaves compared to H. anomala, giving it a distinct appearance.
- Produces attractive, white, lacecap-like flower clusters in early summer. While smaller than those of H. anomala, they still add beauty to the plant.
- Exhibits a climbing habit similar to H. anomala, using aerial rootlets to attach to surfaces.
- Hydrangea seemannii is more tolerant of warmer climates and can handle full sun or partial shade.
- It is less common in cultivation compared to H. anomala, but gardeners in suitable regions appreciate it for its climbing abilities and unique foliage.
How Do You Care For Climbing Hydrangea?
Climbing hydrangea is very eye-catching. Sometimes, it requires special training to grow attached to trees, trellises, pergolas, garden arbors, and fences. They can become overly large and heavy during their growth, making it important to ensure that their cost structure is strong enough to provide the required support.
Even though they are classified as vines, climbing hydrangeas can be pruned and grown in shrubs. In such a case, they can serve as ground covers where their suckers contact the ground to form a rooting system. Growing them in this form brings out a beautiful scene and helps with cutting down weeds from growing in an unwanted area. The only problem with climbing hydrangeas is that they tend to cover surfaces once they develop and mature. Such cases make it difficult to identify cracks in the wall, which might require some repairs.
Sometimes they may overgrow in unwanted areas such as gutters, and removing them might be a problem. Pruning can be the best option for low houses, but you would need a better alternative in the case of a multi-story building.
When watering, consider the vines that grow close to walls and fences as they tend to be on the rain shadow and hence receive little or no rainfall. Water them more often, especially in the summer when soil moisture levels are low. Newly planted climbing hydrangeas should be watered regularly until they are fully established to prevent them from drying up before their roots are properly attached to the ground. Additionally, protect the soil from drying out by mulcting the ground where they are planted annually. You can use a leaf mold manure-based or garden compost soil conditioner.
What Factors Are Needed For The Proper Growth Of Climbing Hydrangea?
Some of the most important factors required for the growth of the climbing hydrangea include;
Not many flowering vines tolerate shade, but climbing hydrangea does. During hot climates, they tend to grow in shady directions, whether partial or full shades. They can also do well in sunny and hot areas, but they require constant and adequate watering. It is important to remember that a more exposed climbing hydrangea is likely to do better as it will bloom vibrantly than one experiencing too much shade.
Climbing hydrangea vines do better in soils with good drainage and plenty of nutrients, most preferably compost. Even though the vine does not have specific soil pH levels, it blooms best in slightly acidic ones. You should apply at least a 3-inch layer of mulch around the vine’s root zone to help water retain and prevent waterlogging while still maintaining the right soil moisture.
Like other hydrangea vines, climbing hydrangea does well in constantly moist soil. Even the origin of its name, which is the Greek root, hydra, meaning water. Angeon, on the other hand, means a vessel in Greek. They need a continuous supply, and for them to bloom better, they should receive at least one inch of water weekly. Their water source is not specific, meaning that you can either use rainwater or use traditional watering methods. Watering is the best option, especially during the hot and dry seasons.
Humidity And Temperature
Climbing hydrangea does well in temperate climates, not in hot and humid conditions. It is easily affected by sunburn and is unaffected by day temperatures of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The best night temperatures for the vine are around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, climbing hydrangea only sets buds when they experience at least six weeks of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and below. Sudden frosting can cause damage to the buds, which translates to no flowering.
Fertilizing the climbing hydrangea during spring before budding begins is very important and should be done with a high phosphorus fertilizer. Doing this before budding helps the vine to produce beautiful blooms. You can also fertilize them in the summer after blooming, even though it is not significant.
Are Climbing Hydrangea Vines Toxic?
Only some parts of a climbing hydrangea vine are poisonous, which is the case with all hydrangea plants. Some of the toxic parts are leaves, buds, and flowers. These parts have a compound known as glycoside amygdalin which easily transforms into cyanide. Even though an animal has to ingest a lot from the plant to be deadly poisonous, you should always watch out to prevent it from happening.
Some of the signs associated with climbing hydrangea poisoning include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and difficulty in breathing. You should seek medical attention if any of these signs appear on your pets after ingesting the vine.
How Large Are Climbing Hydrangea’s Roots?
Climbing hydrangea is a deciduous plant that requires strong and deep roots to supply nutrients and moisture to its dense foliage properly. However, their root size and underground spread depend on their surrounding environment and the climate experienced in the region. Their main root system is made of rhizomes. These are roots that slowly elongate from underground, with spouts forming at their budding points. When the spouts break and fall through the soil, they form new stems and foliage.
Their rhizome root system also produces some fibrous roots that are thinner, enabling them to penetrate deeper underground, searching for arid water and nutrients. Climbing hydrangeas must be spaced between 3-10 feet since they have their roots spread slightly beyond their drop line. Such spacing helps the vine access critical nutrients and moisture, which may not be in its immediate vicinity. When transplanting climbing hydrangea in a container, ensure to loosen the roots by cutting a few of them from the outside perimeter.
Cutting them stimulates the vines’ roots’ growth and also releases them from their confined state of growth. Once cut, the plant can acclimate and can develop and send new roots outward for sustenance.
What Should You Know Before Planting Climbing Hydrangea?
It is better if you plant your climbing hydrangea soon after purchase to prevent its roots from drying up due to prolonged periods of lack of attachment to the ground. Since their rooting system is spread, they need a large space for root establishment, which is the opposite of the container you purchase the plant from. Spring or autumn are the best periods if you are thinking of when to plant a climbing hydrangea.
If planting the climbing hydrangea at the base of a wall or fence, you should improve the nature of the soil since, at this position, the area is prone to dryness. The hydrangeas are unlikely to survive unless the soil’s nutrients and moisture are improved. You can improve the area by adding some organic fertilizers and watering it to ensure it is moist enough before planting. Doing this will help the climbing hydrangea acclimatize faster to the prevailing soil conditions making its growth rate more rapid.
For support, ensure there are structures or walls available since the climbing hydrangea needs attachment. The support system can either be a wall, wires or trellis, or any other structure. You must ensure that it is strong and firm enough since a mature vine is very heavy and should have firm support from the very beginning.
Climbing hydrangea is a plant under the class of vines which requires support from either other plants or structures. They have a slow growth rate for the first three years as the plant has to establish a wide root connection for better absorption of arid nutrients and water. They tend to create a beautiful scene when taken care of by constant pruning, proper watering, and proper fertilizers to ensure they receive enough nutrients to sustain their growth. Climbing hydrangea can be poisonous if ingested by plant-eating animals such as goats, and one should be on the lookout to ensure it does not happen.
Emma is a graduate of Domestic Science or Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Economics) from the University of Wisconsin. She has 7 years of experience Working with the strategic section of BestBuy and now writing full-time for Homeeon.
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