Hydrangea flowers are very beautiful and brighten up any garden. Further, they are easy to maintain as well. However, people often wonder if hydrangeas attract bees and other pollinators.
Some Hydrangeas attract bees like Hydrangea anomala whereas a few hydrangea varieties like Hydrangea macrophylla hortensis or French hydrangea do not.
Hydrangeas have very large blooms that are usually a magnet for bees. However, that is not always true.
Why is some hydrangea with their large and beautiful flowers not liked by most pollinators?
It is because not all the hydrangea varieties have flowers with nectar and pollen.
Nectar and pollen are what bees are attracted to in a flower. The large flowers that hydrangeas are so famous for are mostly sterile. The inner part of the cluster of hydrangeas has fertile flowers that contain nectar and pollen.
The petals of hydrangea are technically sepals. In most plants, sepals are green in color. However, in hydrangeas, the sepals are in the form of what is generally classified as flowers.
Hydrangeas that grow in the wild have less large and showy sterile flowers and more small and fertile flowers.
However, hydrangeas get cultivated for their beautiful blooms, which is why the ratio of the fertile flowers to sterile ones has shifted and you find more sterile flowers and less fertile ones.
Because hydrangeas do not produce a large amount of pollen, it is a good plant for people who suffer from allergies.
Which varieties of hydrangea do bees like?
The hydrangea shrubs that bees would prefer would include specific cultivars from Hydrangea paniculata or from one of the climbers, Hydrangea anomala or lace caps.
There are a lot of cultivars of hydrangea paniculata, but not all of them are liked by bees. You will need to look for cultivars that have a lot of fertile flowers on the blooms.
The “Confetti” variety of Hydrangea paniculata is attractive to bumblebees. This plant has loose flower heads in comparison to the ornamental hydrangeas like the mophead that grow flowers in bunches.
If you want your flowers to be white or cream or greenish in color, you can plant the following varieties:
- ‘White Moth’
- ‘Brussels Lace’
If you want your flowers to be in shades of pink, you can plant the following varieties:
- ‘Big Ben’
- Dart’s Little Dot
- Early Sensation
- ‘Floribunda’ (becomes tinged with pink as it ages)
Climbing hydrangea, or Hydrangea anomala, tends to grow rapidly. If you plant a climbing hydrangea, make sure you provide the plant with plenty of space and external support.
The climbing hydrangea is a climber, which means that it has aerial roots that stick to a surface like cement. That is why it is not a good idea to plant this climber right next to your house.
However, you can plant it around a dead tree, or even a shed, where this will not be an issue.
Climbing hydrangeas have dark green leaves and white flowers. The flowers provide both nectar and pollen, and it grows between June and July.
Varieties of climbing hydrangeas that attract bees include:
- Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris
- Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris ‘Silver Lining’
- Pink or pink tinge (sometimes with age): Hydrangea anomala subsp. glabra ‘Crûg Coral’
- Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris ‘Mirranda’
Lacecap hydrangeas have flatter flower heads than mophead hydrangeas. The flat flower heads are fertile, which are surrounded by large showy flowers that are sterile.
The color of this plant will vary according to the soil pH, and it may change colors as the plant ages.
Many species of Lacecap hydrangeas are liked by bees, but not all of them. Lacecap hydrangea Macrophylla “Blue Wave” is especially popular among bees.
Oak-leaf hydrangea, or hydrangea Quercifolia, is a great source of pollen and nectar or bees and other pollinators. The leaves of this plant resemble oak leaves.
The plants can reach 5 to 10 feet in height, and in the fall, the leaves turn to a deep red color.
Among the oakleaf hydrangeas, the Gatsby Pink hydrangeas are particularly attractive to bees. This hydrangea has lace-cap flowers that release a sweet fragrance, while the big blooms turn red as they age.
This makes pollinators like bees attracted to this plant. Gatsby Pink continues to bloom through the fall season, which means that the pollinators gather around the plant for several additional weeks.
Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora or PeeGee hydrangea has a lot of sterile flowers. The reviews on how well this plant feeds pollinators are mixed, thus, it would be wiser to choose a different plant instead.
Rough-leaf Hydrangea or Hydrangea Aspera has flowers that are almost all fertile. They are also very fragrant, which instantly attracts the bees. They grow well in rich and moist soils in partial shade.
Which hydrangea varieties are bees not attracted to?
If you are planting hydrangeas with the purpose of helping pollinators like bees, then Hydrangea macrophylla hortensis, or French hydrangea, is a variety that you can avoid.
These hydrangeas are of no use to bees or other pollinators, as the flowers are not fertile. This variety has compact mophead round flowers, and no visible anthers.
It is better to focus on varieties that are liked by bees than the ones that aren’t because there are some varieties with loose flower heads too that the bees are not attracted to.
When do hydrangeas flower?
There are different varieties of hydrangeas that grow as shrubs or herbaceous vines.
The best season to plant hydrangeas is in late fall or early spring so that the plant can establish a healthy root system before blooming.
Most new growth hydrangeas form buds during early summer and bloom the following spring, summer, or even early fall seasons.
If the climate gets too hot in the region, the hydrangeas could stop blooming during peak summer, but they will rebloom in the fall.
Are there male and female hydrangeas?
Yes, there are male and female hydrangeas, and the difference is in their flowers. Every flower of the hydrangea is bisexual.
This means that it contains both the male reproductive structures antheridia, and the female reproductive structures, the ovary, and pistil.
The flowers often located in the middle of the flower panicles are small and contain both the male and female parts, the stamen, and the stigma. These are the fertile flowers that produce the seeds.
Do hydrangeas repel bugs and mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes and bugs can be a nuisance when you want to sit and enjoy yourself outside.
Many people believe that hydrangeas could attract a lot of mosquitoes and bugs. However, this is not true. Hydrangeas do not attract any more mosquitoes or bugs than any other plant.
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. While hydrangeas need moist soil and plenty of water, they do not grow well in waterlogged soil.
If the soil is waterlogged, the hydrangeas are prone to root rot, besides which, the stagnant water becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other bugs.
However, hydrangeas do not repel bugs and mosquitoes either. A hydrangea plant will have no effect on the likeliness of mosquitoes and bugs gathering around the garden.
Hydrangeas do attract other types of insects, some of which are good for the plants while some are harmful.
Hydrangeas especially attract soldier beetles. Most beetles turn to be harmful to the plants, but some ground beetles like soldier beetles are an exception.
The black and red colored beetles eat caterpillars, aphids, and the eggs of some other harmful pests. It is safer for your plants if you have soldier beetles in your garden.
What are the pests that are attracted to hydrangeas?
Hydrangeas do not usually get infested with bugs or pests, and even if they do, they do not cause much damage to the plant.
Some of the pests that target hydrangeas most often are Japanese beetles, leaf tiers, rose chafers, spider mites, aphids, and scale.
To prevent any damage, make sure you keep your hydrangeas as healthy as possible. Give them the proper amount of water. always keep the soil moist, but not water-logged.
You can encourage insects like ladybugs in your garden that are beneficial to your plants.
Do hydrangeas attract flies?
One of the pests that are attracted to hydrangeas is small flies. The hydrangea produces an odor that brings small flies to the plant and they eat the leaves of the flowers while causing damage to the health of the plant.
You can use insecticides to get rid of these flies, but often, the insecticides also end up harming the hydrangea. Some things you can do to keep the flies away without harming the plant are:
Placing bay leaves between the hydrangea flowers will keep flies off, as the scent of bay leaves repels flies.
Crush 1 tbsp of mint leaves, place them in a small pouch and hang the pouch near the hydrangea plant. The pungent smell of mint will keep the flies away. Replace the leaves every week.
An opened container of basil or cloves next to the hydrangeas will help the flies stay away from the plants.
The smell of eucalyptus oil will ward off flies. Pour 2 3 drops of eucalyptus oil on a clean cheesecloth and place the cloth near the hydrangeas.
Spraying neem oil on the plants will kill off all the pests on the plant. Use this as the last resort, as neem oil will also kill insects like ladybugs, that are beneficial to the plant.