How to Grow and Care for Lacecap Hydrangea

lacecap hydrangea

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Lacecap hydrangeas are hydrangeas whose flowers 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 share a round disk of short flowers encircled by showier, lacy flowers, the shrubs vary in size, bloom color, and bloom time. Planting time is in the fall or early spring.

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

Common Name Lacecap hydrangea
Botanical Name Hydrangea macrophylla
Family Hydrangeaceae
Plant Type Shrub
Mature Size 3-7 ft. tall, 3-5 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Partial
Soil Type Well-drained 
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
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. The second important requirement is that the plant gets sufficient moisture.

Beyond that, these colorful bloomers are easy to care for. If you plant more than one, spacing depends on the variety, as lacecap hydrangea cultivars come in a wide range of sizes.

In some cultivars, the flower color changes with the soil acidity. A more acidic soil will result in blue flowers, while an alkaline soil will cause the flowers to be pink.

Light

Lacecap hydrangeas grow best when planted in a location that receives part-sun, part-shade. A site with morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal. In too much sun, the foliage can become droopy, turn yellow, or scorch.

Water

It's absolutely imperative that lacecap hydrangeas get enough water, but they do not tolerate over-watering.

Soil

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 over the soil. Just be sure to keep the mulch from coming within a few inches of 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

Fertilizer will definitely help boost your lacecap hydrangea's growth. It is recommended to apply a balanced fertilizer for woody plants 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 never be done in the late summer because new growth is especially susceptible to winter frost during the plant's dormancy period.

Varieties of Lacecap Hydrangeas

There are numerous lacecap hydrangea cultivars. Popular ones include:

  • 'Twist-n-Shout', a reblooming lacecap hydrangea that belongs to the Endless Summer hydrangea series
  • 'Bluebird' with 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' with white florets surrounding a large cluster of pink to blue flowers
  • 'Lady in Red', a smaller (2 feet high by 3 feet wide) variety with red stems and red-veined leaves

Pruning

When pruning hydrangeas, it is important to know whether the variety blooms on on this year's growth (new wood) or last year's growth (old wood). Since the term lacecap hydrangeas comprises many different cultivars, there is no one-fits-all answer 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 branches should be removed at any time of the year and regardless of the bloom type. Deadheading spent flowers is optional.

Propagating

Propagation of 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 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). Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting.
  2. Dip the end of the cutting into rooting hormone.
  3. Fill a 4-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.
  4. 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.
  5. Within a few weeks, you should see new growth on the cutting and you can transplant the plant in garden soil or in a container.

Potting and Repotting

Lacecap hydrangeas can be grown in containers. Plant it in a container with large drainage holes, and slightly larger than the one you bought it in to allow for some growth before it needs repotting. Terracotta is ideal as it lets excess moisture 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.

Overwintering

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 hydrangea is not blooming is too much shade, wrong timing of the pruning so the flower buds have been accidentally removed, or a late spring frost after a warm spell that killed the flower buds. If the shrub is large and cannot be transplanted, pruning surrounding trees or shrubs can help letting more sunlight in. As for pruning, once you have determined whether the hydrangea blooms on old or new wood, and have adjusted the pruning accordingly, it will bounce back and flower the following year.

FAQ
  • What is the difference between lacecap and mophead hydrangea?

    Their flowerheads are different. Mophead hydrangea has globe-shaped clusters of showy blossoms whereas lacecap hydrangea has flattened flower clusters.

  • 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.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Toxic Plants. University of California.

  2. Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants: Hydrangea. ASPCA.