Our first introduction to Hydrangea Irish Lace was the flowerless plant we were given by the breeder, Mike Dirr. It was August and the foliage looked clean, dark green, and fresh. I planted it next to a group of macrophyllas and the smaller foliage texture contrasted nicely with the bigleaf hydrangeas.
The foliage on this hybrid (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lady in Red' and Hydrangea angustipetala) stays nice through the summer, no mildew at all. It has elegant, long, slender leaves. The leaf size is not as big as macrophylla and not as small as angustipetala - it's intermediate between the two.
When it flowered, I became a believer. I was delighted by the long flowering season of this beautiful lacecap - the color changes and complexity of this hybrid are a little different than all other lacecaps in the garden. Dirr's goal was to get more flowers along the stem, and he succeeded - there are flowers at several leaf nodes on each stem, rather than just a terminal flower as typically produced. It's like a lace factory!
Flowers start out green with quite a lot of bees grazing them. It takes a while for the flowers to open, so settle in to enjoy the young, green phase for a couple of weeks.
After the green phase, flowers turn pure white for a week or two, then these beautiful green patches develop, as seen in the pictures - I had to force myself to stop snapping pics. The first flower image shows a maturing flower - white with green patches. This final phase - the white-with-green-patches phase - lasted several weeks as well.
Irish Lace was one of the first hydrangeas to flower in our collection and I've explained how each phase lasts a long time. Next year I'll make sure to note time-frames for each phase. This year - my first spring experiencing the show - I was simply swept away by delight.
There's a note in the details section that it's for plant collectors, but that doesn't mean it's hard to grow! What is meant is that it's so unusual it's a good choice for the collector who has everything.
The parentage on this plant is an interesting story, so we've explained more about that in an article, This Beautiful Hydrangea Hybrid Needs a Name, where we also ran a naming contest. The winning name is now instated as 'Irish Lace'. Thank you Joan Harrison for the beautiful name and tribute to your best friend, a lover of green Ireland.
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
- Spring: dark green
- Summer: dark green
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Soil Moisture Requirements
moist-but-draining, no standing water
Soil pH Requirements
acid, neutral, alkaline
sun, part shade, shade
To Make It Thrive
Give it rich soil plus consistent moisture in a soil that drains. It may require extra watering, but avoid standing water. Grow it in full shade or afternoon shade in the deep south (zones 8 and 9), not only for the foliage, but so the flowers don't get sun scald. Full sun is okay farther north. For flowering in cold climates, situate it in a warm sheltered location. During the ups and downs of spring temps here in Zone 8a - we cover to protect flower buds.