How to Grow Lacecap Hydrangea

Lacecap hydrangea

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The lacecap hydrangea is a relative of the mophead hydrangea plant, but instead of growing round clusters of showy blossoms, the lacecap hydrangea grows flowers that resemble flat caps with frilly edges--hence their unusual, yet appropriate, moniker.

This a shrub that presents its blooms in a lovely, delicate way, and truly creates a "lacy" appearance. The lacecap hydrangea grows a round disk of short flowers that are encircled by showier flowers.

Botanical Name Hydrangea macrophylla
Common Name Lacecap Hydrangea
Plant Type Shrub
Mature Size Up to six feet tall/wide
Sun Exposure Part sun/part shade
Soil Type Rich, well-drained, acidic 
Soil pH 5-7
Bloom Time Summer/fall
Flower Color Blue, white, pink
Hardiness Zones 6-9
Native Area Japan

Lacecap Hydrangea Care

The number one factor to consider when planting hydrangeas, including the lacecap variety: location, location, location. That's followed closely by ensuring your plants receive proper irrigation (without over-watering).

These are colorful, eye-catching shrubs that love shade and acidic soil, and they easily blend in with any landscape (or under the shade of a tree) without overpowering the plants around it.

Depending on your soil, you can expect your lacecap hydrangea to grow either blue or pink flowers (unless they are specifically a white color). A more acidic soil will result in blue flowers, while an alkaline soil will cause the flowers to be pink.

Light

Lacecap hydrangeas will grow best when planted in a location that receives part-sun, part-shade--a site with morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal. These colorful blooms are considered easy to care for, as long as they are planted in an appropriate location.

Water

It's absolutely imperative that lacecap hydrangeas get enough water, but as with many similar shrubs, they will not be able to withstand over-watering. These shrubs will need to be watered regularly, but frequency should be directly related to how well the unused water drains from the soil--they will not grow well in muddy soil.

Soil

The lacecap hydrangea requires a rich, well-draining soil--which should remain evenly moist--along with the addition of organic matter (such as manure or compost).

To help the soil retain the level of moisture these shrubs require, consider layering a few inches of organic mulch over the soil. Just be sure to keep the mulch from coming within a few inches of the stems.

Temperature and Humidity

The lacecap hydrangea will truly come to life in the late summer/early fall.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer will definitely help boost your lacecap hydrangea's growth. It's recommended to apply a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer according to label directions, or you can also blend organic compost into the soil each year.

Avoid feeding these hydrangeas after August; since they will go dormant for winter. The new growth could be damaged by the winter frost.

Potting and Repotting

Somewhat surprisingly, lacecap hydrangeas can be grown in containers. However, a number of steps will be required to ensure that your plant grows properly, including regular watering.

You should start your plant off in a smaller pot and then continue to transfer into larger containers until you reach the desired size. Its final pot should be about half the size of a whiskey barrel.

All hydrangeas grown in pots will need regular watering to ensure they do not dry out. Most potted hydrangeas die from a shortage of water.

Propagating Lacecap Hydrangeas

Most varieties of hydrangeas will easily grow and come back year after year to add a graceful touch of color to a landscape. The lacecap hydrangea can be propagated through softwood stem cuttings taken from the current season's growth, as well as by layering an existing stem.

Varieties of Lacecap Hydrangeas

  • Bluebird Lacecap Hydrangea: Sea-blue florets surrounding a large cluster of rich blue flowers; reddish fall foliage.
  • Zorro Lacecap Hydrangea: Deep blue flowers; strong and upright purple-black stems; reddish fall foliage
  • Lanarth White Lacecap Hydrangea: White florets surrounding a large cluster of pink to blue flowers

Pruning

Though frequent irrigation is crucial when growing lacecap hydrangeas, regular pruning is optional. However, these are shrubs that can tolerate severe pruning when needed.

If you have an older plant that doesn't flower much, it can be brought back to life by trimming off a third of the stems at ground level. You should consider pruning in late winter (be sure to start with the oldest stems), and deadheading can also be an effective pruning method with this plant.

After the plant has flowered, cut off the longer flowering shoots to a lower bud, which will help your lacecap hydrangeas to continue to flower all summer long.

More extensive pruning can help control the size of your shrubs. A third of each stem can be removed.