While hydrangeas flaunt a dazzling array of colors, but white-flowered hydrangeas radiate a refined grace, making them perfect centerpieces for both romantic garden and contemporary landscapes, where they effortlessly infuse a dash of stylish sophistication.
The tonalities of cream, snow and ivory on the large clusters of small flowers is like lacework! Long lasting and often huge, like clouds, like large balls, or like cones, the blossoms of shade loving hydrangeas in candid and bright milky hues create a “wedding day” but also “old world” effect! No wonder they’re favorites in both quintessential and casual garden settings.
Positioned next to darker, almost noir foliage, they introduce a captivating visual contrast.
Their adaptability allows them to blend seamlessly with vibrant blossoms, or even take center stage in in a monochromatic white garden.
A noteworthy feature of these luminous petals of white-flowered hydrangeas is their ability to capture and reflect light, casting a soft luminescence over even the most shadowed corners of your garden.
But there’s more than whiteness to snow colored hydrangeas… There are many types, shapes, from trees to vines and shrubs, like mountain, lacecap, oak leaf, and of course the well known smooth varieties!
With lush and dense foliage, easy to grow and massive blooms, you only need to find that hydrangea variety with candid white blossoms for you and your garden. And it is hiding in plain sight in the list of hydrangeas with white blooms laid out for you like a string of pearls!
12 White Flowering Hydrangea Varieties You’ll Fall in Love With
All white, but all different and each with its own personality, here are 12 of the most beautiful hydrangeas with flowers like snow, or clouds…
And the first on our list is a classic, heirloom white variety!
1. ‘Annabelle’ Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangeaarborescens ‘Annabelle’)
‘Annabel’ is one of the most popular varieties of smooth hydrangea with white blooms all over the world, and there is a good reason for this! Its candid white and round inflorescences are really spectacular…
Starting in early summer, they they start off as pale green, but they soon turn into a perfect and bright snow color, and they stay so for most of the long blooming season. In fall, they turn back to a greenish color.
And they are massive, reaching about 12 inches in diameter! Really packed with a huge number of blooms, these clusters are also very abundant and generous all through this long floral display!
By contrast, as a shrub it is fairly small, which makes it ideal if your garden has modest dimensions. The lush green foliage, forming a balance mound, is also known for being quite healthy and disease free, compared with other cultivars.
Winner of the famous Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society, ‘Annabel’ smooth hydrangea is a white queen of shrub borders and hedges in I formal gardens, and it also provides an excellent flowering backdrop for perennials.
2. ‘Onyx Zebra’ Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophilla ‘Onyz Zebra’)
If you are looking for a highly decorative variety of hydrangea where whiteness is the protagonist, you should definitely consider growing the cultivar ‘Zebra’ of the Onyx series. Or shall we say co-protagonist? Yes, because the blooms are as white as ivory, no doubt about it.
Coming in early summer and continuing through the warm season, the globular clusters are very full indeed, and the blooms are quite particular.
Larger than in most other hydrangeas, they are saucer shaped and with very broad petals – and the lovely frilly (actually lobed, or dented) edges give them an especially “wedding dress like” texture! But this pure and light filled display is enhanced by the coloring of stems and foliage!
Very dark, with purple coating an under layer of deep green, it will give you a stunning contrast and an excellent backdrop!
‘Onyx Zebra’ hydrangea is another fairly small variety with white blooms, which lends itself quite well to foundation planting and container growing, or as an accent plant in shrubby borders.
3. ‘Lanarth White’ Lacecap Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lanarth White)
For a variety with a lot of originality, you could have a look at ‘Lanarth White’ lacecap hydrangea… It will form flat clusters which start in June, and they have two different types of flowers. Those in the middle are very small, almost like dots, and they have shades of pinkish mauve to bluish.
But all around them, at the margins, it will blossom with large, sterile blooms that are fully white, and the petals are almost rhombic in shape! This unusual floral display will last into the early weeks of fall, often interlacing with the lush foliage.
In fact, the leaves are pointed and deeply veined, but also bright to mid green and semi glossy. Yet another small shrub, this winner of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society has a distinctive elegance and a soft, lace like personality.
What is more, ‘Lanarth White’ lacecap hydrangea is one of the few varieties you can grow in coastal gardens, being salt tolerant. Grow it in hedges, containers or as foundation planting and you won’t regret it.
4. Oak Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Oak leaf hydrangea is not as popular a variety as the very common smooth hydrangea, but if you are a lover of this genus of flowering shrubs, you will certainly know that this is unfair!
Its botanical name, “quercifolia” means that its foliage looks a bit like those of oaks, but actually they are palmate, deeply cut and ore similar to those of maples, up to 8 inches across (20 cm).
Glossy, broad and rich green in color, they blush to red, orange and yellow in the fall. So, they definitely have great decorative value.
But the blooms too, with conical panicles that reach 12 inches in length, totally filled with cream white flowers, sometimes with a bright canary yellow blotch in the center, are real wonders too.
They will start opening at the base in late spring, and then “climb up” to the top, turning rosy pink as they mature. But maybe the most amazing trait of this species native of the USA is that the floral display is impressively long, and it continues till Christmas time!
Read Next: 12 Striking Pink Hydrangea Varieties
You can grow oak leaf hydrangea in borders, beds, as an accent plant or for foundation planting in any informal garden, even at the edge of woods and in naturalized areas, and its spectacular blooms and leaves also make it suitable for oriental or even exotic landscaping styles.
5. Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris)
Not all hydrangeas are shrubs, and climbing hydrangea, a species native of Asia, is the living proof! This strong deciduous climber hangs on to trellises and other structures, using aerial rootlets. And it fills them with the most elegant and lace like white blossoms ever.
The clusters look a bit like soft clouds, thanks to the super fine texture the snow colored flowers that form them. There are very small florets that are actually cream to lime in color, but then there are much bigger sterile ones, with one large petal, that are fully pure white! And they are fragrant as well! This floral display will also start earlier than in other varieties, usually in May, but it will continue into the beginning of fall.
The foliage is deep green, semi glossy and quite lush, but the trunk itself is very attractive, with its peeling redfish bark. And again, you are looking at a winner of the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Climbing hydrangea is a fast growing and tall vine that really suits walls and harbors in traditional looking and informal gardens, for a gentle and airy white and lace like effect all through the season!
6. ‘Grandifolra’ Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’)
Meet the giant of genus, panicle hydrangea ‘Grandiflora’! In fact, it is so large, and its trunk is so strong and woody that it can literally be a tree!
Forming a round crown this native of Asia and Russia can provide shade in your garden with its dense, deep green, ovate and serrated leaves, which blush to yellow, red and purple late in the season, before falling to the ground. But there is another record breaking quality of this variety….
The panicles that appear in mid spring are simply huge! Up to 18 inches long (45 cm), they are conical and totally packed with loads of flowers. These are mainly snow and candid white, but you will also see some rosy blushes here and there.
‘Grandiflora’ is a cultivar introduced in Japan in the 1960s, and it also tolerates heat and humidity better than most of her sisters, as well as polluted urban environments. It is also one of the best to grow in full Sun and coastal gardens, being salt tolerant.
Despite its blooming time is shorter than in other varieties, ‘Grandiflora’ panicle hydrangea is a great garden protagonist! As a tree, you should definitely grow it as a specimen, but if you wish to keep it as a large shrub, make sure you have plenty of room in your hedges for it to display its white beauty!
7. ‘Incrediball’ Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’)
Closely related to the historic ‘Annabel’, ‘Incrediball’ smooth hydrangea is a more recent cultivar and an “improved version” of the white queen…The globular clusters look like massive snow balls, because you cannot see any gap between the hundreds of flowers they contain! They are almost spherical in shape and huge in size, about 12 inches across (30 cm)!
What is more, they open on top of long, sturdy and straight stems, so they are perfect cut flowers too! These blooms will follow a similar color transformation as those of her sister…
They start off as pale green, mature to pure white through the summer months, then they turn again greenish, finally taking on tan shade. It has deep green semi glossy ovate leaves that form a very dense and lush clump, and it is also incredibly cold hardy, ideal for the Northern States and Canada!
‘Incrediball’ has really impressive white inflorescences, and it will definitely work well for foundation planting, in borders but also as a backdrop to other flowering varieties or as an accent plant. Big though the blooms are, the shrub itself is small, and suitable for modest sized gardens.
8. ‘Tardiva’ Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangeapaniculata ‘Tardiva’)
‘Tardiva’ panicle hydrangea is a perfect companion for late season garden days! It is extremely elegant, thanks to its long and pointed, conical inflorescences with a very upright habit, so they point to the sky! What is more, these clusters contain both small, sessile flowers and larger sterile ones with lovely round petals – snow shite in color, of course.
They mix and match freely all through the blooming season, which starts late in summer. If you have to wait for its floral display far longer than with other varieties, it will pay you back for your patience with its generosity, ad each shrub produces lots and lots of panicles!
This will also happen when the foliage is at its deepest, strongest green shade, with semi glossy ovate leaves, but then they will start blushing to yellow and purple, and the whole effect will become warmer and more melancholic…
To have the best results with ‘Tardiva’ panicle hydrangea, prune it back in winter or early spring. Keeping this in mind, you dan enjoy its airy and elegant blooms and decorative foliage in hedges or borders in most informal landscaping styles, from cottage to urban gardens.
9. ‘Beni-Gaku’ Mountain Hydrangea (Hydrangea serrata ‘Beni-Gaku’)
Ok, ‘Beni-Gaku’ mountain hydrangea is quite colorful, but wait before skipping it… If you want white with other shades mixed in, it is maybe the best variety you can choose. It is one of those hydrangeas with two types of blossoms, like lacecap…
The clusters are usually split up into smaller ones, where the tiny sessile blooms have lovely colors of magenta pink and violet blue! On the other hand, the much larger, showy sterile blossoms come like orbiting around them, thanks to very, very long arching pedicles, like satellites.
These are white, but there are little blushes of rose at the margins when they ripen, which are also finely lobed! This changing tricolor display lasts all through the summer months, each cluster being about 6 inches across (15 cm).
While it may not be a lot compared with some cultivars we have seen so far, do keep in mind that this is almost a dwarf variety, and it packs all this, and the lush serrated green foliage in less than 4 feet (120 cm)!
Of course, cheerful ‘Beni-Gaku’ mountain hydrangea is perfect for containers, terraces and small gardens. However, small though it is, it will definitely pull a punch also in borders or in foundation planting.
10. ‘Gatsby Moon’ Oak Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Gatsby Moon’)
If you like really packed inflorescences, ‘Gatsby Moon’ oak leaf hydrangea may be the variety you fall in love with. Lasting from early summer to early fall, the flowers in the clusters really compete for space, despite these being 12 inches long (30 cm). The shape is unusual, like an ice cream cone, quite bulgy at the bottom and then tapering to a fine point at the end…
The blooms are white, rounded but so e will show a touch of pale green as well when they are young. The leaves are really decorative, deeply cut and veined, and they dorm a very dense and lush shrub of rich green…
But this will turn red, purple and even dark burgundy as the season comes to an end and the floral display fades away.
A medium sized shrub, ‘Gatsby Moon’ oak leaf hydrangea is a really generous and rewarding white cultivar for hedges and shrubs, and it is also quite popular for dry cut flowers, so it can keep you company indoors long after it has finished gracing your garden with its dense inflorescences and striking foliage.
11. ‘Snow Queen’ Oak Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’)
‘Snow Queen’ is another very popular variety of oak leaf hydrangea, originally from North America, with an elegance, a personality and a decorative value that is quite distinctive. An early starter, you will see the first conical clusters appear in late spring, but this only extends its blooming season.
They are not very large, about 8 inches long (20 cm) and not extremely dense. But this actually adds to the gentle sophistication they offer you and your garden.
In fact, you will see the fresh bright green buds among the pure white ray flowers at first, but these will slowly take over, and be dominant through the summer season.
Finally, they will take on rose tonalities in the fall. The foliage is lush and very deeply lobed, more than in other oak leaf shrubs, and they are deep green, semi glossy but they turn wonderfully red, plum and purple as the cold weather comes, falling before winter.
Winner of the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society as well as of the Gold Medal Award by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, ‘Snow Queen’ oak leaf hydrangea is a perfect gentle and elegant presence in informal gardens. It has the “old world” look you want in hedges or large borders, and it is also a great backdrop variety, or for mass planting.
12. ‘Snowflake’ Oak Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’)
So far, all the varieties we have seen, different though they are, have something in common: they are all single! So, I thought it fair to conclude with a striking double one: enter ‘Snowflake’ oak leaf hydrangea! The individual flowers look like little pagoda roofs, with a very geometric shape, the petals arranged in layers – and quite a few of them.
Of course, this produces a very, very dense inflorescence, and if you consider that it is 12 inches long (30 cm!) you will see why it is very showy indeed! Cream white at the top, these “tower like” glowers take on gentle tonalities of rose and pale green in the “lower storeys”.
Really exceptional looking, it will start early, but it will not keep its floral display into the months of fall. But do not worry…
This amazing shrub has much more to offer! The lobed leaves are green and lush till the end of summer, but then they start a fiery color transformation, turning to amazing shades of red, plum and purple! Given its impressive decorative value, it is no surprise that it has won the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society!
‘Snowflake’ oak leaf hydrangea is a star… You can have it as backdrop, but it may end up stealing the show! Luckily, it is equally suitable as an accent plant in borders and hedges of shady informal gardens…
White Like Snow, White Like Milk, White like Hydrangea!
Small and big, climbers and shrubs, with arching panicles or huge spherical clusters, white hydrangeas are all candid, beautiful and generous – now you know the snow queens of this genus, you can take your pick!
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.