This easily-cultivated group of hydrangeas have been culled from the wild in the United States, principally in the East and Midwest. It is the hardiest group of hydrangeas, accepting the very coldest continental climates, but thriving in mild-winter areas, and even in humid, hot-summer climates. The Arborescens group, typified by the striking, wild sub-species H. arborescens ‘Radiata’, are slender stemmed, suckering shrubs rather like woody, overly large perennials. They can be pruned to the ground in winter, and will bloom with fewer, but very large flower heads on new growth.
Despite this easy nature, they are often most attractive where allowed to grow freely. They will make shrubs of moderate size with an abundance of crowded panicles of flower, which start green, turn cream, fade to white and age green again. Those with lots of sterile florets can be dried very effectively, either green or off-white, and will age to beautiful shades of mahogany and tan if allowed to finish naturally on the plants. The Arborescens can be grown in full sun but the flowers are far longer lasting if given shade from the hot afternoon sun. Very shaded conditions are not always to their liking.