Hydrangeas typically flower in pink or blue, with their colour determined by the alkalinity of the soil: on acid soils, flowers are blue, while in alkaline soils, flowers are pink. However they also flower in white, and these hydrangeas are arguably the most attractive of the genus. White-flowered varieties have a delicacy that pink and blue cultivars don’t have. They can be used to light up a shady area, act as a foil against brighter colors, and bring a sense of serenity to a planting area. Unlike pink and blue hydrangeas, most white varieties don’t change colour in accordance with the pH of the soil. However some blooms mature to a light pink or brown. Exercise caution when it comes to pruning hydrangeas, as the technique varies depending on the type.
Browse our choice of white-flowered hydrangeas, below.
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Great Star’
From late summer to autumn, this paniculata hydrangea bears large panicles of fragrant, pure white star-shaped flowers, which mature to pink in late autumn. Forming a large shrub, it’s ideal for growing at the back of the border, particularly in a cottage garden or woodland scheme, and makes an excellent cut flower.
Height x spread: 1.5 m x 1m
Hydrangea quercifolia bears huge cones of white flowers in late summer. These contrast beautifully with its fresh green, oak-like leaves, which develop shades of bronze, orange, red and purple in autumn. ‘Snow King’ is a lovely cultivar. The Royal Horticultural Society has give it the prestigious Award of Garden Metit.
H x S: 2m x 2.5m
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’
Hydrangea aborescens ‘Annabelle’ bears huge heads of only sterile florets, resembling white snowballs, up to 30cm across. As autumn progresses, the flowers fade to pale lime-green, while the fresh green leaves turn shades of yellow. Perfect for a mixed border, paired with other hydrangeas, it has an upright habit and tolerates shade. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
H x S: 3m x 3m
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Savill Lace’
‘Savill Lace’ is a hybrid paniculata hydrangea, bearing particularly large cones of cream-white flowers. These eventually develop a pink tinge. A highly ornamental variety, it’s perfect for growing towards the back of a mixed border, and works well with other hydrangeas.
H x S: 1m x 1m
Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris
Climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, is a useful low-maintenance climber, perfect for a shady or north-facing wall. It’s slow to get going but is well worth the wait. In summer it bears huge, white lacecap-style hydrangea flowers, which can almost completely cover the stems. The green, heart-shaped leaves turn yellow in autumn. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
H x S: 15m x 5m
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lanarth White’
‘Lanarth White’ bears elegant, larger-than-average lacecap flowers in crisp white with inner florets developing shades of pink or blue, depending on the pH of the soil. A particularly hardy hydrangea, it’s perfect for cold and exposed sites where other hydrangeas fail.
H x S: 1.5m x 1.5m
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Fireworks’
Like exploding fireworks, this lacecap hydrangea bears double, star-shaped florets in pure white. The heart of each flowerhead has pink or blue hues, depending on the pH of the soil it’s growing in. These are offset by shiny dark green leaves. Compact in size and habit, it’s suitable for growing at the front of a mixed border or as part of a container display.
H x S: 1.5m x 1.5m
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Sundae Fraise’
Hydrangea ‘Sundae Fraise’ bears masses of green and white flowers which gradually mature to pink in late summer. It has a compact habit, making it perfect for small gardens and container displays.