The vast majority of hydrangeas are deciduous and not many people realise there are a few evergreen ones. H. indochinensis a relatively recent introduction and has been collected from areas of Vietnam and southern China. It is quite variable but the form we have has lovely pointed leaves with dark maroon on the underside and attractive blue and white lace cap flowers. In these types of hydrangeas, the fertile true flowers are the little ones in the centre whereas the outer layer of larger petals are mere sterile ornamentation.
We have found it quite difficult to grow well and this plant is much happier having been moved to a more hospitable position with plenty of compost. It is not rated as hardy which means that it is unsuitable for cold, frosty situations and gardeners in inland areas will need to find a favoured, sheltered position to grow it. Our plants have never reached much over a metre tall and maybe 50cm wide.
H. indochinensis is available in New Zealand but you will probably have to find a hydrangea specialist because it is not a standard garden centre line.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.