If you’re looking for a garden flower with show appeal, hydrangeas are truly stunning. Large balls of flowers cover this shrub in summer and spring. Although their appearance may appear to be high maintenance, with the right conditions and care, hydrangeas are actually quite easy to grow. So grab your gardening gloves, because our guide to growing hydrangeas will have you ready to plant in no time.
Blooming in spring and summer, hydrangea is considered a shrub. But despite their ability to be pretty big showstoppers in your garden, how to grow hydrangeas isn’t a question even a novice gardener needs to ask – these beauties almost grow by themselves. Hydrangeas reach up to 15 feet in height and grow quickly, often filling a space in just one summer. You’ll find hydrangeas growing in hardiness zones 3 through 7 as perennials. With blooms beginning in the spring and often lasting all summer into early fall, hydrangea flowers can be a staple in your landscape.
As with most things in your garden, you can save time and money by learning the basics of how to plant hydrangeas. By choosing the right location, getting the right soil and planting correctly, you increase your chances of enjoying large, colorful hydrangea blooms for years to come.
Best time to plant hydrangeas
Fall is the best season to plant hydrangeas, followed by early spring. The idea is to give the shrub plenty of time to establish a healthy root system before it flowers. The best time of day to plant is early morning or late afternoon. The cooler parts of the day provide protection against heat stress. Keep new plants well watered until established.
Where to plant hydrangeas
Knowing where to plant hydrangea bushes is an important first step. Many people plant hydrangeas in beds next to their homes or fences. This is because hydrangeas love the warm morning sun, but they dislike the afternoon heat. The best place to plant hydrangeas is in a sheltered location with sunny mornings and shady afternoons. You will often find this on the north or south side of your home. Avoid planting directly under trees, which can lead to competition for water and nutrients. Strong winds can tear and damage leaves and destroy the flowers.
Best soil for hydrangeas
Hydrangeas grow well in soil that contains an abundance of organic matter. Good drainage is important. While hydrangeas like moist soil, they cannot tolerate waterlogging. Wet, poorly draining soils can cause root rot. In just a few weeks, your hydrangeas can quickly die. If you have heavy soil, consider mixing in plenty of compost before planting to improve soil quality.
How to plant hydrangeas
To plant hydrangeas, simply dig the planting holes 2 feet wider than the root ball. Keep the depth of the hole consistent with the size of the root ball so that your plant sits level with or just higher than the surrounding soil. By creating a small hill, you help increase water drainage away from the base of the plant.
How to Propagate Hydrangeas
One hydrangea can turn into many through simple propagation techniques. Bigleaf and panicle hydrangea are best propagated by layering in early to mid-summer. All you need to do is:
Dig a small trench near your hydrangea plant.
Bend a branch down to the trench so that it touches the soil in the middle of the branch.
Make scratches in the bark where the branch touches the soil of the trench.
Fill in the trench and place a paver, brick or stone on top.
Over time, the branch will form its own root system and can be transplanted to a new location.
Smooth hydrangeas and oakleaf hydrangeas put out new shoots through underground stems. Just dig up the young plant and separate it from the main plant. It can then be transplanted to a new location.