9 Trees That Look Like Hydrangea (With Pictures)

Hydrangeas are known for their big, showy flower heads that come in shades of pink, blue, purple, white and green. Their lush blooms give hydrangeas a distinctive look that makes them a favourite flowering shrub.

While hydrangeas have a unique appearance there are several other trees and shrubs that produce flowers similar to the hydrangea’s full round blooms. Below are 9 trees and shrubs that can be mistaken for hydrangeas based on their flowers.

1. Clematis

Clematis is a genus of climbing vines that produce lavish blue, purple, pink or white flowers Some clematis species have large, round flower heads that look a lot like hydrangea blooms The similarities are especially apparent with varieties that have bushy, mophead-like flowers.

Some clematis that resemble hydrangeas include Clematis ‘Multi-Blue’, Clematis ‘Bee’s Jubilee’ and Clematis x durandii. Their colorful lush blooms give them a hydrangea-esque look.

2. Crapemyrtle

Crapemyrtles are popular flowering trees known for their long panicles of ruffled blooms. Their flowers come in shades like pink, red, purple and white. Some crapemyrtle varieties have flowers clustered into round, hydrangea-like flower heads at the ends of branches.

For example, crapemyrtle varieties like ‘Natchez’, ‘Tuscarora’ and ‘Lipan’ have big round flower heads that look similar to mophead hydrangea blooms.

3. Elderberry

Both American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) and European elderberry (Sambucus nigra) produce large clusters of tiny white flowers that resemble hydrangea blooms. Their flat-topped flower clusters can reach up to 10 inches across.

Elderberry shrubs bloom in early to mid summer, giving them huge hydrangea-like flower heads that are great for gardens. Popular varieties like ‘Johns’ and ‘York’ have particularly hydrangea-esque blooms.

4. Lilac

Many lilac shrubs produce dense, rounded clusters of flowers that look like mophead hydrangea blooms. Their colors range from purple to pink to white.

Some species like the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) and Korean lilac (Syringa patula) are especially prone to having hydrangea look-alike blooms. The variety ‘Miss Canada’ is particularly known for its huge, hydrangea-like flower clusters.

5. Rhododendron

Rhododendrons are prized for their showy spring blooms. Their flower heads contain masses of ruffled petals that form a dense, round shape similar to some hydrangea varieties. Rhododendron flower colors include white, pink, red and purple.

Rhododendron varieties that resemble hydrangeas include ‘Millenium’, ‘Roseum Elegans’ and ‘English Roseum’. The full blooms of these rhododendrons give them a very hydrangea-like look.

6. Rose

Certain rose varieties produce rounded flower heads that resemble hydrangea blooms. Their flowers are arranged in dense clusters at the ends of branches, much like mophead hydrangeas.

Some roses that mimic the look of hydrangeas include ‘Knock Out’, ‘Marie-Luise Marjan’ and ‘Burgundy Iceberg’. These full, lush rose blooms can easily be mistaken for hydrangeas from a distance.

7. Smokebush

Smokebush is a large shrub grown for its airy flower plumes that resemble puffs of smoke. However, when its flowers first emerge, they form rounded clusters reminiscent of hydrangea blooms.

The flowers start out green before gradually turning into smoky, cloud-like plumes. But that initial hydrangea-like stage makes smokebush easy to confuse with hydrangeas.

8. Spirea

Many spirea shrubs produce dense panicles of small flowers that form rounded, hydrangea-like clusters. Their bloom colors include white, pink, red and purple.

Some spirea varieties with particularly hydrangea-esque flowers are ‘Magic Carpet’, ‘Neon Flash’ and ‘Little Princess’. These spireas make nice alternatives to hydrangeas in the garden.

9. Weigela

Weigela is a spring-blooming shrub that bears clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers along its branches. The abundance of colorful blooms gives weigela shrubs a full, fluffy look reminiscent of hydrangeas.

Weigela varieties that especially resemble hydrangeas include ‘Pink Poppet’, ‘Minuet’ and ‘Spilled Wine’. Their flowers may not look exactly like hydrangeas, but their lush blooms still evoke a similar hydrangea-like feel.

Final Thoughts

While hydrangeas have a distinctive charm, there are many other flowering shrubs and trees that can pass for hydrangeas from afar. Clematis, elderberry, rhododendron and lilac are just a few plants whose blooms bear a striking resemblance to the round flower heads of hydrangeas.

So next time you spot a shrub with big, showy blooms, take a closer look before assuming it’s a hydrangea. You may find another beautiful plant that just happens to share the hydrangea’s lush charm.

When Do You Prune Hydrangea Trees?

Determine whether your hydrangea blooms on old or new wood. Old wood hydrangea like Oakleaf (H. quercifolia) and Big Leaf (H. macrophylla) should be pruned once the flowers have browned out in late summer. New wood hydrangeas like smooth (H. arborescens) and panicle (H. paniculata) should be pruned when they are dormant in late winter or early spring. Most of our Hydrangea Tree specimens are Hydrangea paniculata or panicle hydrangeas, which bloom on new wood.

How Do You Care For Hydrangea Trees?

Some types of hydrangeas, like panicle hydrangeas, can handle full sun, but most of them do better with some shade. Hydrangea Trees love a deep watering, especially when it is hot out. Feed your hydrangea tree in spring with a slow release fertilizer. Hydrangea trees that have just been planted should be watered every day for the first week and then every two to three weeks for the first two to three months until they are well-established. Read more about Hydrangea Care.

Why Limelight Standard Hydrangea Trees are a Bad Idea


What looks like a hydrangea but isn t?

For a look-alike alternative to hydrangeas, try viburnum. This spring-flowering shrub has large, round clusters of flowers that look similar to hydrangea blooms when in bloom. While hydrangea blooms come in a wide variety of colors, viburnum flowers are white or pink.

What is mistaken for a hydrangea?

Like the hydrangea white bloom flowers, snowball viburnum flowers are shaped like round snowballs and are very fragrant, making them attractive to bees and butterflies. But, unlike hydrangeas, viburnum plants produce fruit.

What plant is mistaken as a hydrangea?

Viburnum is a spring-flowering, shrub alternative to ever-popular hydrangeas. 1 Learn about the vast range of viburnums and how to grow them.

Do hydrangea trees exist?

Hydrangea trees are considered a medium to small tree, so they shouldn’t take over any areas. You can plant them along walkways, near mailboxes and patios, in containers, or by themselves. They work well as accent plants or focal points, so they’re sure to fit somewhere in your garden.

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