Schizophragma hydrangeoides, while called the Japanese Hydrangea-vine, is not actually a hydrangea. It is, however, in the Hydrangea family. At first glance, at a distance or when out flower, it can look very much like Hydrangea anomala petiolaris the Climbing Hydrangea. But upon closer inspection the two are easy to distinguished because true Hydrangea has 4 petals (actually sepals) while Schizophragma has one solitary heart-shaped sepal. Another useful clue is that Schizophragma hugs a tree or wall more closely than does Climbing Hydrangea. Both are beautiful vines to be sure, but if I had to choose between the two I would choose Schizophragma because the flowers are showier and there are more cultivars to choose from.
Schizophragma climbs and clings by means of small aerial roots. It looks great growing on a wall or on a tree. It is hardy to zone 5 making it a bit less hardy than Climbing Hydrangea. It can be slow to get started but grows rapidly once it gets going. It can take full sun, partial shade or shade but seems to do best in partial shade.
|An elegant vine when grown on brick|
|This vine is a tower of white when grown on a large tree|
The blooms range from 8 to 10 inches in diameter. They appear in late June to early-July and last for around four weeks.
|Schizophragma has showy pure white blooms with tear-drop sepals|
The cultivar 'Moonlight has the added bonus of attractive, colorful foliage. The leaves are steel-blue with contrasting green veins. The sepals are typically larger and showier. This is perhaps the most popular cultivar.
|'Moonlight' has showy steel-blue leaves|
The cultivar 'Rosea' is, as the name indicates, pink. The sepal color can vary from year to year based on the weather. It can range from pure white to a rich pink. Every years is a surprise! The sepal size is larger than typical and can be quite showy.
|The cultivar 'Rosea' has pink sepals|
The cultivar 'Strawberry leaf has distinct foliage with deeply toothed leaf margins. The sepals are pure white and typical in size.
|'Straberryleaf' has a distinctive dentate leaf margin.|
There are two variegated selections, however, I don't think they are yet available in the United States. I found the gold variegated form at Liss Forest Nursery in England and a Silver form at a small nursery in Japan. Both plants add extra color after the flowers have faded.
|Liss Forest Gold|
|A silver variegated form|
Windmills-TM is a new selection of Schizophragma integrifolium commonly called the Chinese Hydrangea vine. It has long narrow, pure white sepals. It is rated as a zone 7 plant so it is best reserved for milder climates. I selected this plant out of a batch of seedlings and have been evaluating it over the last 10 years. The extra large flowers are both remarkable and elegant.
|Windmills is a new selection of Schizophragma integrifolium|
Schizophragma is gaining in popularity, however, it is not easily found at your local garden center. If you want to try this vine you will most likely have to buy it via mail-order or over the internet. I really like this vine and I think you will too.