How to Grow and Care for Lacecap Hydrangea

lacecap hydrangea

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Lacecap hydrangeas are hydrangeas whose flower heads look like flat caps with frilly edges, which gave the shrubs their unusual yet appropriate moniker. Like mophead hydrangeas, lacecap hydrangeas belong to the bigleaf hydrangea species (Hydrangea macrophylla), which is native to Japan.

While all lacecap hydrangeas flowerheads share a central set of small florets surrounded by showier flowers, the shrubs vary in size, bloom color, and bloom time. Wide, dark green serrated leaves provide a lush background for the large. flattened flower heads. Like most hydrangeas, these are fast-growing shrubs, averaging two feet or more per year. Planting time is in the fall or early spring.

Lacecap hydrangea is toxic to humans and is toxic to pets.

Common Name Lacecap hydrangea
Botanical Name Hydrangea macrophylla
Family Hydrangeaceae
Plant Type Deciduous shrub
Mature Size 3-7 ft. tall, 3-5 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Partial sun
Soil Type Well-drained 
Soil pH Acidic, neutral, or alkaline
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color Blue, white, pink
Hardiness Zones 3-9 (USDA)
Native Area Cultivars, no native range
Toxicity Toxic to humans, toxic to pets
lace cap hydrangea

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

closeup of lace cap hydrangea

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

pink lace cap hydrangea

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

closeup of pink lace cap hydrangea

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Lacecap Hydrangea Care

The number one factor to consider when planting hydrangeas, including lacecaps, is location, location, location. Where you plant your lacecap hydrangea needs to strike the right balance between enough sunlight, which is essential for prolific bloom, but not too much, especially hot afternoon sun, in which the plant suffers. The second-most important requirement is that the plant receives sufficient moisture.

Beyond that, these colorful bloomers are easy to care for. If you plant more than one, spacing depends on the variety because lacecap hydrangea cultivars vary in their mature size.

For some cultivars (except those with white blooms), bloom color changes with the level of acidity in the soil. An acidic soil (a soil pH 5.5 or lower) will result in blue flowers, while an alkaline soil (a soil pH 7.0 or higher) will cause the flowers to be pink. Add aluminum sulfate to the soil to make the flowers blue or add lime to the soil to make the flowers pink


Lacecap hydrangeas grow best when planted in a location that receives partial sun. A site with morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal. The foliage can become droopy, turn yellow, or scorch in full sun. However, if the hydrangea is planted in too much shade, stems can become weak and produce fewer blooms.


It's absolutely imperative that lacecap hydrangeas receive enough water, but they do not tolerate over-watering. If you are unsure whether the plant needs water, stick your finger down about four inches into the ground. If it feels dry to the touch, the hydrangea needs water.

In the absence of a good long rainfall about once every week, water deeply to the point of saturating the soil without it becoming waterlogged. Watering often with a light sprinkle does not benefit the plant because the water needs to reach the roots. A best practice is to water deeply and not as often.


Lacecap hydrangeas require a rich, well-draining, evenly moist soil that has been amended with 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 around the shrub. Just be sure to keep the mulch from coming too close to the stems.

Temperature and Humidity

The hardiness of the lacecap hydrangea depends on the variety but generally, it does better in moderately warm weather and humidity than in a hot, humid summer climate.


Fertilizer will definitely help boost growth. It is recommended to apply a balanced fertilizer in the early spring according to label directions. You can also blend organic compost into the soil each year.

Fertilization should be limited to the spring and should never be done in the late summer because feeding encourages new growth. Late-season growth is especially susceptible to winter dieback.

Types of Lacecap Hydrangeas

Here are a few popular lacecap hydrangea cultivars:

  • 'Twist-n-Shout', a reblooming pink or blue lacecap hydrangea that belongs to the Endless Summer® series of hydrangeas.
  • 'Bluebird' has sea-blue florets surrounding a large cluster of rich blue flowers and reddish fall foliage.
  • 'Zorro' with deep blue flowers on strong and upright purple-black stems and reddish fall foliage.
  • 'Lanarth White' has white florets surrounding a large cluster of light pink or blue flowers.
  • 'Lady in Red' is a compact (two feet tall by three feet wide) variety with red stems and red-veined leaves.


When pruning hydrangeas, it is important to know if the variety blooms on this year's growth (new wood) or last year's growth (old wood). There is no one-fits-all answer to hydrangea pruning, and you need to find out which type of hydrangea you have.

If your hydrangea blooms on new wood, prune it in the late winter before new growth starts. If it blooms on old growth, prune it right after it has bloomed in the summer.

Dead or diseased stems can be removed at any time of the year. Deadheading spent flowers is optional. Many gardeners leave the spent blooms intact for winter interest.


Propagating lacecap hydrangeas is feasible but it is limited by two factors. Most varieties are cultivars so starting them from seed won't produce a plant that is true to type and therefore is not recommended. The other restriction is that propagation of trademarked cultivars is prohibited.

For non-trademarked varieties, you can use softwood stem cuttings taken from the current season's growth to produce a new shrub. A good time do to this is in the early summer that way the cutting has enough time to root and you can plant it in the fall. Here's how it's done:

  1. Using clean, sharp pruners or a knife, cut off a strong, healthy stem tip without any flowers that has at least one growth node (a knobby line across the stem).
  2. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting.
  3. Dip the end of the cutting into rooting hormone.
  4. Fill a four-inch pot with moist, sterile potting mix. Poke a hole in the soil with a pencil or a stick and insert the cutting in the soil deep enough so that the growth node is buried in the soil.
  5. Place the pot in a bright, warm location but out of direct sunlight. Make sure the soil remains evenly moist at all times but not soggy.
  6. Within a few weeks, you should see new growth on the cutting and you can transplant the plant in garden soil or into a bigger a container. Before transplanting into the garden, make sure to harden off the plant.

Potting and Repotting

Lacecap hydrangea can be grown in a container. Plant it in a pot with large drainage holes slightly wider and deeper than the one you bought it in to allow for some growth before it needs repotting. A container made of terra cotta is ideal because it allows excess moisture to evaporate and the material is heavy so the plant does not topple over easily. Fill the container with well-draining potting mix.

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

When the roots start growing out of the drain holes or the plant becomes root-bound, it's time to repot the hydrangea to a larger container.


If grown within their hardiness range and in garden soil, lacecap hydrangeas do not need winter protection. However, the roots of potted plants should be insulated with a thick layer of mulch and the container should be wrapped in burlap plus a layer of bubble wrap or placed in an insulating silo, to protect the roots from the winter freeze.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Lacecap hydrangeas are susceptible to fungal diseases such as bacterial wilt, blight, leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Adequate spacing between plants and avoiding overhead watering can minimize the risk of a fungus spreading.

Lacecap hydrangeas attract aphids. A heavy infestation might require the application of neem oil or insecticidal soap.

How to Get Lacecap Hydrangea to Bloom

Common reasons why hydrangeas are not blooming are too much shade, pruning at the wrong time of year which removed flower buds, or a late spring frost after a warm spell that killed the flower buds.

If the shrub is large and cannot be transplanted, prune surrounding trees or shrubs to let in more sunlight in. As for pruning, once you have determined whether the hydrangea blooms on old or new wood and have adjusted the pruning schedule accordingly, it will bounce back and flower the following year.

  • What is the difference between lacecap and mophead hydrangea?

    Their flowerhead forms are different. Mophead hydrangeas have globe-shaped blossoms whereas lacecap hydrangea have flattened flower heads.

  • Is lacecap hydrangea the same as French hydrangea?

    French hydrangea is a common name for bigleaf hydrangeas, which are divided into two main groups, mophead hydrangeas and lacecap hydrangeas. The geographical designation is misleading because bigleaf hydrangeas are native to Japan, not France.

  • When do lacecap hydrangeas bloom?

    The bloom time of lacecap hydrangeas varies. Some bloom in early summer and others have an extended bloom from summer through fall.