Panicle Hydrangea: The Easiest Hydrangea to Grow

Updated: May 23, 2024

Need a hardier hydrangea for your garden? Try growing a panicle hydrangea — a lower-maintenance, bold-blooming choice.

Panicle hydrangea, proven
Pinky Winky panicle hydrangea

Some types of hydrangeas can be fickle. They can be prone to pests and diseases, excess sun burns their leaves, and overwatering or underwatering may cause them to die. But panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) offer an easier-to-grow option. If you want to grow hydrangeas, a hardy, low-maintenance panicle hydrangea is a good alternative to bigleaf types. Benefits include reliable blooms, an array of color choices and drought tolerance.

The plants, sometimes called peegee or hardy hydrangeas, produce pretty single-petal flowers on pyramidal heads in contrast to the hallmark mophead flowers on bigleaf hydrangeas. “They make a big splash in the garden,” says Lorraine Ballato, horticulturist and author of Success with Hydrangeas. “They contribute a tremendous amount to the vibrancy of the garden.”

Panicle Hydrangea Size and Colors

'Zinfin Doll' panicle
Zinfin Doll panicle hydrangea

One thing gardeners love about panicle hydrangeas is the diversity. Lorraine notes that traditional bigleaf hydrangeas were primarily pink and blue, but panicles offer flowers that change colors as the blooms mature. “Now you can get these wowie-zowie colors,” Lorraine says.

Fire Light features full mophead flowers that are a creamy white color when they emerge and transform into a vivid red hue; Pinky Winky hydrangea is known for its large white panicles that transition to a pretty shade of pink in the fall; and Candy Apple boasts compact lime green flower clusters.

Color is just one of the features to consider when choosing panicle hydrangeas. Lorraine suggests considering size too. Some dwarf varieties are under 3 feet, while some full-sized plants grow up to 8 feet tall or more and just as wide.

Panicle Hydrangea Care and Maintenance

'Candy Apple' panicle hydrangeaDoreen Wynja/Monrovia
Candy Apple panicle hydrangea

Panicle hydrangeas grow well in Zones 3 to 9. Plant them in a sunny spot (with afternoon shade in hot climates) and well-draining soil. Minimal fertilization is needed. A soil test can help you determine proper fertilization needs.

Can You Grow Panicle Hydrangeas in Containers?

Pw Little Quick Fire Hydrangea
Little Quick Fire panicle hydrangea

Thanks to their hardiness, panicle hydrangeas are ideal for container gardening. Choose weatherproof containers and provide extra winter protection if you’re in a colder climate. Repot into larger pots every three years as the plant matures.

Panicle Hydrangea Pruning

'Fire Light' panicle
Fire Light panicle hydrangea

Minimal annual pruning during the dormant season can be done if needed to promote stem strength and help you control the size and shape of the plant. Since panicle hydrangeas flower on new growth, it’s safe to prune them in early spring before the leaves appear or in late fall after the leaves have fallen, says Lorraine.

About The Expert

Lorraine Ballato is an award-winning garden writer, speaker, and photographer. She serves as the New York Botanical Garden’s resident hydrangea expert, and has also written numerous gardening columns and even a book about growing hydrangeas: Success With Hydrangeas, A Gardener’s Guide.


Why Trust Us

For nearly 30 years, Birds & Blooms, a Trusted Media Brandhas been inspiring readers to have a lifelong love of birding, gardening and nature. We are the #1 bird and garden magazine in North America and a trusted online resource for over 15 million outdoor enthusiasts annually. Our library of thousands of informative articles and how-tos has been written by trusted journalists and fact-checked by bird and garden experts for accuracy. In addition to our staff of experienced gardeners and bird-watchers, we hire individuals who have years of education and hands-on experience with birding, bird feeding, gardening, butterflies, bugs and more. Learn more about Birds & Blooms, our field editor program, and our submission guidelines.