The $1 climbing hydrangea

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog climbing1This climbing hydrangea is 10 years old and finally blooming like a champ. It's growing up a dead cherry tree. Photos by Doug Oster

blog climbing2 4The plant is about 20 feet tall and will hopefully double that over the next few years.Patience is a virtue which makes gardening much easier.

Sometime is means waiting years for a plant to hit its stride. I used to worry if a plant didn't flower the season after planting, but now I'm willing to wait. What choice do I have?

10 years ago a friend found a bunch of climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea petiolaris) in five gallon pots for a dollar at the end of the season. The plants were at one of the big box stores, they just wanted to get rid of them.

I was thrilled to plant a couple in the garden.

Climbing hydrangeas are slow growing at first, but their vines take off after a few seasons and often take up to five years to bloom. It's one of the few perennial vines which will bloom in the shade. Perfect for my garden in the woods.

There's an old saying about vines; First year it sleeps, second it creeps and third it leaps.

They need sturdy support as they can reach 40 feet at maturity.

Mine began to throw a bloom here and there a few years ago, but this season is finally filled with flowers.

The vine is beautiful on its own and has bronze exfoliating bark which is stunning through the winter. The airy white blossoms are a bonus and put on a show for weeks.

The more successful of the two vines I planted climbs up a cherry tree which was cracked in half by a summer storm in 1998. I'm hoping the tree will stand for many years as a home to the climbing hydrangea. After that, I'm not sure what I'll do.

I've got lots of plants which are taking their time coming into their own.

I don't mind waiting, the longer it takes, the sweeter the feeling when they finally pay off.


Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.