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Hydrangeas for American Gardens

By Michael A. Dirr

It is attractive enough to pick up, deep enough to take home, enthralling enough to take to bed, and by the morning light I wanted it to be mine forever.

American Gardener

The sheer number of choices among Hydrangea species, hybrids, and cultivated varieties can be overwhelming even for the most advanced gardeners. How to choose from among the hundreds of mopheads, climbers, lacecaps, and oakleafs, to name just a few? And how to care for hydrangeas in American gardens, when nearly all the books offering advice about them come from England and Europe? Respected plantsman Michael A. Dirr comes to the rescue in this refreshingly forthright and practical guide to these distinctive shrubs and climbers.

Awards for this book: American Horticultural Society Book Award

Media reviews

"Top honors for talent-spotting go to horticulturalist Michael A. Dirr, author of the invaluable Hydrangeas for American Gardens."

—Douglas Brenner, Martha Stewart Living

"Dirr and his overstated opinions are always a pleasure to read, and this book does not deviate far from those expectations."

—Dan Hinkley, Pacific Horticulture

"For Dirr fans, there is no question that this book is a must-read. For those not yet exposed to his writing and photography, now is the time."

—Richard Churchill, People Places Plants

"[Dirr] speaks with authority and candor, making the entire book both educational and entertaining."

—Patt Kasa, National Gardener

"This is the book to have if you want the whole story about these beautiful plants."

—Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

"Look for more hydrangeas than ever in nurseries around the country as this book catches on. And it will."

—Nellie Neal, National Gardener

"Dirr’s reigning expertise in the realm of trees and shrubs comes through once again."

—Alice Joyce, Booklist

"[A] definitive and irresistible tribute to one of America's favorite shrubs."

Publishers Weekly

"Brings the hydrangea story right up to the minute."

Muscegon (MI) Chronicle

"This is a wonderful addition to a home garden library…and at $29.95, is not too expensive, and for the color photographs alone this is a bargain."

—Paul A. Mogren, American Reference Books Annual

"This book explores the challenges associated with growing these colorful plants in America. ... The care and cultivation of hydrangea variations like mopheads, oakleafs, lacecaps and climbers are authoritatively discussed."

—Jim Carlson, Country Decorating Ideas

"Perhaps I should compare Dr. Dirr to a Sequoiadendron; the longer he is around, the more overhwhelming he is."

—Barbara Emeneau, HortResources Newsletter

"Whisk away your winter blues when you spend an afternoon thumbing through the beautiful images found in Hydrangeas for American Gardens."

Country Accents

"Illustrated in full color with beautiful photos and line art, my first thought after perusing Hydrangeas for American Gardens was that this book is going to cost a lot of money, but surprisingly, it doesn’t."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"For those who wish to extend their collection of hydrangeas and which plants to grow, this book is undeniably essential."

—John E. Bryan, Gardening Newsletter

"This book is both entertaining and authoritative."


"The most comprehensive book available on hydrangeas. Exceptional ... It is a definitive guide."

—Katelyn Thomas, Bella Online

"A definitive text for hydrangeas."


"Helps to sort out the sense of confusion many gardeners experience when confronted by hundreds of hydrangea species, hybrids and cultivars."

—Suzanne Hively, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Finally, we have a book which will enable us to wisely select those species and cultivars best suited to our specific locale and design situation."

—Bobbie Schwartz, Buckeye

"Hydrangeas for American Gardeners is the ultimate reference. It's a beautiful book, packed with gorgeous color photos, cultivar charts, propagation descriptions and, as always with books by Dirr, his esteemed opinions."

—Jean Starr, Northwest Indiana Times

"Professor Dirr explains in understandable terminology the basic botanical categories of hydrangeas and how they've yielded the colorful hybrids that are treasured today."

—Victor van Buchem, HCS News

"The book is filled with information and color images of hydrangeas taken by this accomplished plant photographer, augumented by beautiful botanical illustrations crafted by Dirr's wife, Bonnie. This book is a must for Dirr fans, and for those not yet exposed to his writing and photography, now is the time."

—Richard Churchill, People Places Plants

"Hydrangeas for American Gardens totally seduced me. It is attractive enough to pick up, deep enough to take home, enthralling enough to take to bed, and by the morning light I wanted it to be mine forever."

—R. William Thomas, American Gardener

"For growers of hydrangeas Dirr’s book is invaluable for choosing the best hydrangeas to grow in each area."

—Joanne S. Carpender, National Gardener

"The only up-to-date book on the subject."

—Carol Stocker, Boston Globe

"Dirr's heartfelt and knowledgeable opinions are immensely helpful in deciding which hydrangeas deserve space in your garden."

—Valerie Easton, Seattle Times

"Gardeners will find useful advice about which varieties will perform best in their part of the United States."

—Beth Clewis Crim, Library Journal

"University of Georgia professor Dirr casts a wide net to provide comprehensive information about these versatile plants."

Publishers Weekly

"With practical 'hands-in-the-soil' advice and detailed observation based on years of scientific research, this is an indispensable reference for all gardeners and hydrangea enthusiasts."

Rainy Side Gardeners

"This man is a scientist and everything that he says is backed up by experience. And, of course, the pictures are lovely."

—Dorothy Rodal, Hardy Plant Society of Oregon Bulletin

"The descriptions of the plants are well written, and the culture, care, propagation, and pests and diseases chapters are set forth in a no-nonsense way."

—John E. Bryan, Gardening Newsletter

"A reference book for every hydrangea fan."

—Jim Slezinski, Michigan Gardener

"If you love hydrangeas and want to learn more about them, this is the book to purchase."

—Richard Poffenbaugh, Mansfield News Journal

"A thorough and enjoyable reference for the professional and avid home gardener."

—Colette Leeser-Freeman, E-Streams

"People who want good advice on hydrangeas should have Dirr’s book on their shelves."

—Barbara Emeneau, HortResources Newsletter

"This book will become the classic reference for gardeners."

Garden Hotline Newsletter

"Quite obviously a labor of love."


"It is quite simply a great book! The hydrangeas of the world will thank the author, as you will as well."

—John E. Bryan, Gardening Newsletter

"A must-read that covers every aspect of the plant from its botany to its propagation and hybridization (and even how to preserve those blossoms)."

—Maureen Fitzpatrick, Stamford Advocate

"Dirr is a hydrangea aficionado whose dream is that hydrangeas will flower reliably from Maine to Florida, regardless of the vagaries of climate."

—Carol T. Bradford, Syracuse Post-Standard

"Thanks to Michael Dirr for sorting, separating and explaining the dynamic genus of Hydrangea in his new book."

—Mary Ann Fink, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"A great inspirational read before heading to the nursery to pick out hydrangea shrubs in bloom."

—Marianne Binetti, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Respected plantsman Michael A. Dirr comes to the rescue in this refreshingly forthright and practical guide to these distinctive shrubs and climbers."

—Michael Haworth-Booth, American Hydrangea Society Newsletter

About the author

Michael A. Dirr

Michael A. Dirr, professor emeritus, horticulture, University of Georgia, is widely acknowledged as one of the leading experts on trees and shrubs for landscapes and gardens. He holds BS and MS degrees in horticulture from The Ohio State University and the Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts. Dirr has introduced over 200 woody plants to cultivation and holds 29 patents with the UGA Research Foundation. With two partners, he established Plant Introductions, Inc., a breeding and introduction company in 2006, selling it to Bailey Nurseries in 2015. Dirr continues to work in lockstep with the American nursery industry to introduce and promote new trees and shrubs.

Read more about Michael A. Dirr

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