Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris

Climbing Hydrangea




  • native to Japan and China
  • zone 4

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous climbing vine
  • climbs by twining and aerial rootlets
  • main stems climb vertically
  • side branching is horizontal giving the vine a depth dimension
  • can be grown as a mounded shrub if there is not structure to climb
  • grows to 30' or so vertically as a vine and 3' to 4' as a shrub

Summer Foliage

  • opposite, simple, deciduous leaves
  • broad heart shape
  • acute to acuminate tip
  • margins are serrate
  • glossy dark green above
  • very high quality foliage

Autumn Foliage

  • foliage holds late into the fall
  • color is yellow at best; often just falls green


  • large flat clusters of white flowers
  • less showy fertile flowers in the center surrounded by a ring of showy sterile flowers
  • lacy appearance to flowers
  • flowers show off well against the dark foliage
  • bloom time is early June
  • fragrant and showy


  • small capsule
  • not ornamentally important
  • the dried flower clusters persist and add mild ornamental appeal


  • exfoliating cinnamon or tan
  • very showy on larger stems
  • nicest bark on a cold hardy vine


  • best when planted on a North or East side of building
  • partial shade to full sun
  • avoid hot, dry sites
  • needs a cool, moist, well-drained, fertile soil
  • can be slow to become established
  • becomes large, so it needs ample support

Landscape Use

  • multi-season appeal due to outstanding foliage, flowers and attractive bark
  • allow it to climb on walls, trees, and arbors
  • one of the finest vines


  • slow to establish
  • needs particular soil and site location

ID Features

  • exfoliating cinnamon - tan bark
  • root-like holdfasts
  • broadly heart-shaped leaves
  • foliage glossy, dark green
  • vertical main stems and horizontal side shoots


  • by cuttings
  • by seed


'Firefly' - A brand new, patented variety that is special for its variegated foliage, this selection features leaves broadly margined with creamy yellow. Other traits are as per the species. While this plant is not yet widely available, it's ability to lighten up shaded areas may be valued in the future.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database, http://hort.uconn.edu/plants, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.