The controlled synthesis of Mg(OH)2 nanowires and microflowers composed of nanoplates was successfully achieved by a template-free hydrothermal synthetic method. It was found that the reaction medium played a crucial role in the morphological control of the precursor nanostructures. The high polarity of water molecules favored the polar growth of the precursor, resulting in the formation of nanowires with a diameter of 80 nm, whereas a mixed water/ethanol medium with a lower degree of polarity led to the formation of microflowers. Moreover, mesoporous MgO nanostructures could be obtained by further annealing these as-prepared precursors in air at 500 °C for 2 h. During thermal treatment, the wire- and flower-like morphologies were retained. Porosity formation was due to thermal decomposition of Mg(OH)2 and release of H2O. Both the mesoporous MgO nanowires and microflowers showed superior ability of adsorbing the organic dye methyl orange, and thus they are promising candidates for polluted water treatment.