How To Plant Hydrangea Shrubs

Planting hydrangeas is a present you can give yourself. These lovely flowering plants are a great addition to any environment thanks to their profusion of vibrant blossoms.

How to Choose Hydrangeas

The hydrangea plant comes in a variety of varieties. Although one is a vine called climbing hydrangea, the most grow as shrubs. The most popular hydrangea varieties in zones 6 through 9 may be mophead and lacecap varieties, which can serve a variety of purposes in the landscape.

Choose panicle, smooth, or oakleaf hydrangeas to grow as a hedge; these varieties also have attractive fall foliage.

Choose an oakleaf hydrangea or a climbing variety if you intend to cultivate hydrangeas in complete shade.

The panicle hydrangea, which can be grown as a tree, is the variety you want if you’re growing hydrangeas in colder climates because it has the most winter hardiness.

Where to Plant Hydrangeas

Light and moisture are the most crucial elements to consider when deciding where to plant hydrangeas. Plant them in the South where they’ll get early sun and afternoon shade. You can grow the wildly popular French (also known as bigleaf) hydrangea or panicle hydrangea under these circumstances. These identical varieties of hydrangeas can withstand full-day sun in northern regions.

The root term “hydra” (as in hydration) in the name “hydrangea” provides a hint as to how much water these plants require. Make sure the location you choose is near a water source. Also be aware that French hydrangeas typically require the most water to flourish.

What Kind of Soil to Use for Hydrangeas

Concentrate on enhancing the native soil if you want to cultivate hydrangeas in planting beds. Mixing equal portions of Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Trees and Shrubs and existing soil is one quick and easy way to do so. You can also plant hydrangeas in containers in warmer climates (zones 7 and higher), where winters are often not too harsh. Use Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix to fill pots to provide the ideal habitat for them.

It is important to note that the pH of the soil, which indicates how alkaline or acidic the soil is, affects how the blossom color of lacecap and mophead hydrangeas changes. In alkaline soil, flowers bloom pink to red, while in acidic soil, they turn lavender to blue.

When to Plant Hydrangeas

The ideal time to plant hydrangeas is typically when you see them on sale at neighborhood garden centers. By region, this timing will change. For instance, hydrangeas should be planted in the early spring or early fall in regions with freezing winters and snow (as soon as summer heat breaks). The planting window for hydrangeas is longer in warmer climates with moderate winters, lasting from fall until early April.

Planting Hydrangeas In-Ground

The type of hydrangea you are growing will determine how far apart you should space your plants. The plant tag should ideally be examined. Keep in mind that hydrangeas grown in the shade typically develop slightly larger and wider leaves. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the container the hydrangea arrived in when planting it. Fill the hole with the 50-50 soil mixture mentioned above after setting the plant in the hole so that the root ball is at the same level as it was in the container. After planting, thoroughly water.

Planting Hydrangeas in Containers

Verify once again that plants are planted at the same depth as they were growing when planting hydrangeas in containers. The size of the container you should choose will depend on how big your hydrangea will get. It’s generally okay to begin with a pot that is 2 inches bigger than the one the plant is currently in.

Watering Hydrangeas

After planting, give the plant plenty of water, making sure to moisten the soil around the root ball. You might not need to water the hydrangeas again until growth picks again if they are dormant (without leaves).

In soil that is consistently moist, hydrangeas flourish. At least once per week, check the soil. It’s time to water when the top inch of soil is dry. Except in times of drought, hydrangeas can usually thrive on rainfall after they are established.

Mulching Hydrangeas

After hydrangeas are planted, mulch the area surrounding the plants (but not on top of them) with a 2- to 3-inch layer. Mulch inhibits weed development and sunlight availability, helping to keep soil moist and prevent weed growth. Pick the mulch that complements your landscape the best, whether it’s Scotts bagged mulch, chopped leaves, pine straw, or another locally accessible material.

Feeding Hydrangeas

When hydrangeas first start to grow in the spring and again right before the summer, fertilize them. After August, especially in areas with chilly winters, refrain from feeding hydrangeas. It is best to use a slow-release plant food. Try Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed Flowering Trees & Shrubs Plant Food, which provides nutrition for up to 3 months, for the greatest results.

Pruning Hydrangeas

The sort of hydrangea you are growing will determine when to prune it. You should prune plants as soon as flowering is ended because French and oakleaf hydrangeas both produce flowers on old wood (stems from the previous year). Hydrangeas, both smooth and panicle, bloom on new growth, so you can clip stems in late winter or early spring. In general, hydrangeas shouldn’t require much pruning beyond removing dead or broken wood as long as you give them enough space to spread and grow to their full size.

Protecting Hydrangeas in Winter

In order to assist safeguard flower buds that have already grown for the following year, many gardeners in cooler regions create a burlap screen around oakleaf and French hydrangeas. Making sure the hydrangea you’re growing is hardy in your gardening zone, though, is the most crucial component of winter protection.

Using Hydrangeas in Your Landscape

The garden can use hydrangeas for a variety of purposes. Plant hydrangeas as a foundation planting around a house or as a privacy hedge. Potted hydrangeas can add beauty to a deck or entry garden, and a single hydrangea can serve as the garden’s focal point. Additionally, hydrangeas blend in well with diverse borders of perennials and shrubs and offer a natural-looking element to a woodland scene.

Wedding bouquets and vase fillers both love using fresh hydrangea flowers. Most experts advise waiting to allow flowers age and dry naturally on the plant if you want to dry hydrangea blooms. Harvest when you favor the color stage.

Ready to begin hydrangea cultivation? To learn more about a product, to buy it online, or to locate a retailer near you, click on any of the product links above.

When should hydrangeas be planted?

Learning the fundamentals of how to plant hydrangeas can help you save time and money, just like with most other items in your garden. You’ll improve your chances of enjoying big, vibrant hydrangea flowers for years to come by picking the appropriate site, getting the soil just right, and planting correctly.

When should I plant hydrangeas?

The best time to grow hydrangeas is in the fall, followed by early spring. The goal is to provide the shrub lots of time to develop a strong root system before it blooms. Early in the day or late in the day are the ideal times to plant. The day’s cooler hours provide relief from heat exhaustion. Water new plants frequently until they get established.

Locations to plant hydrangeas

The first step is knowing where to grow hydrangea plants. Hydrangeas are frequently grown in beds adjacent to houses or fences. This is so because hydrangeas prefer the mild early sun to the hot afternoon sun. A protected area with sunny mornings and shaded afternoons is the ideal spot to plant hydrangeas. This is frequently found on the north or south side of a house. Avoid planting underneath trees since it could cause competition for nutrients and water. Flowers and leaves can both be destroyed by strong winds.

hydrangea-friendly soil

The soil needs to be rich in organic matter for hydrangeas to thrive. Drainage is important. Although hydrangeas prefer damp soil, they cannot stand standing water. Root rot can be brought on by wet, poorly draining soils. Your hydrangeas could pass away in a matter of weeks. Consider adding a lot of compost to your heavy soil before planting to increase the soil’s quality.

Methods for planting hydrangeas

Simply dig planting holes that are 2 feet wider than the root ball for planting hydrangeas. So that your plant lies level with or just higher than the surrounding soil, match the depth of the hole to the size of the root ball. You can improve water drainage away from the plant’s base by making a small mound.

The best way to grow hydrangeas

Simple propagation methods can multiply a single hydrangea into several more. The optimal time to layer bigleaf and panicle hydrangeas is in the early to mid-summer. You only need to:

  • Close to your hydrangea plant, make a tiny trench.
  • Bend a branch such that the middle of the branch meets the earth in the trench (six to 12 inches of branch should extend past the trench).
  • Where the branch meets the trench soil, make scuff marks on the bark.
  • After the trench is filled, cover it with a paver, brick, or stone.
  • The branch can be transplanted to a different area once it has established its own root system over time.

Hydrangeas with smooth or oakleaf leaves produce new growth from underground stems. Simply separate the baby plant from the main plant by digging it up. After then, it can be moved to a new spot.

How should the ground be prepared before planting hydrangeas?

  • When roots are spread out, they grow more quickly. So that the root system has lots of room to easily expand, make the hole deep and wide enough. So that you may place the dirt at the bottom of the hole, where it will be most beneficial, keep it in a separate pile.
  • Mix dehydrated cow dung, garden compost, or peat moss (up to a 1/3 concentration) into the topsoil pile to help the soil become looser. Make sure the peat moss you purchase is either granular peat or baled sphagnum. You may also mix in 2 or more inches of organic material or our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium evenly with the current soil.

You can get the perfect organic ingredients from your lawn, such grass clippings and crushed leaves. The grass and leaves not only decompose to replenish the soil’s nutrients, but also to assist loosen the soil. These can be collected in the fall in preparation for spring planting.

Common soil amendments:

  • compost
  • sand
  • manure
  • lime
  • bog moss

Most soil types will benefit from the addition of organic elements like our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium and compost. Sand-like soil particles are bound together by organic compounds, improving moisture and nutrient retention. Additionally, they disintegrate clay and silt particles to allow water to permeate and allow roots to grow.

What size of area is required to plant a hydrangea?

Hydrangeas have huge bloom heads and exude an old-fashioned elegance. How to plant and take care of beautiful floral bushes is explained in our hydrangea growing guide. Additionally, learn the answers to frequently asked questions like “why aren’t my hydrangeas blossoming this year?”

About Hydrangeas

These elegant plants are simple to grow, withstand nearly any sort of soil, and produce an abundance of blossoms that are unmatched in the world of shrubs for their stunning flowers. Clear blue, vivid pink, frosty white, lavender, and rose blossoms sometimes grow on the same plant, enticing us with their colors.

From container gardens to shrub borders to group plantings, hydrangeas are great for a variety of garden locations. Breeders seem to give us more possibilities every year, and gardeners have countless expectations for bloom size and color. Varieties abound. Pay attention to the species listed below to get an idea of how your hydrangea will develop as some require different maintenance. The joys you experience will be enhanced when you know what to expect.

Enjoy this tribute to hydrangea beauty and read our guide below to discover how to grow hydrangeas.

  • The majority of hydrangeas like fertile, moisture-rich soils that drain well. Compost can help improve bad soil.
  • Hydrangeas typically prefer some sun. In an ideal world, they would receive full sun in the morning and then some afternoon shade to avoid the intense midday sun. The Bigleaf Hydrangea (H. macrophylla), with its huge, prone-to-wilting leaves, is a prime example of this. Some kinds can withstand more direct sunlight.
  • Depending on the kind, place hydrangeas anywhere between 3 and 10 feet apart. Plants should always be spaced according to their anticipated mature size!
  • The optimum season to plant hydrangeas is in the fall, followed by spring. The cooler shoulder seasons are the ideal times to plant shrubs because they will have plenty of time to build a strong root system before the intense heat of summer or the bitter cold of winter.
  • In the early morning or late afternoon, plant the shrubs. The plant is less prone to experience heat stress from direct sunshine because it is typically cooler.

How to Plant Hydrangeas

  • Gently remove the hydrangea from its container and examine the root ball. Snip off any rotten or dead sections, and if the plant is very root-bound, pry the roots free.
  • Make a hole that is two to three times as big and as deep as the root ball. The top of the planting hole should be level with the base of the plant, which is where the stem joins the earth.
  • After placing the plant in the hole, add enough soil to fill it halfway. generously hydrate. Fill the remaining space in the hole with soil once the water has been absorbed.
  • once more, thoroughly rinse.

How to Grow Hydrangeas from Cuttings

Cuttings of hydrangeas can be easily grown. They easily take root, and the process is a wonderful teaching tool for propagation. Here’s how to do it:

  • Find a branch on a mature hydrangea that is fresh growth and has not flowered. In comparison to older growth, new growth will appear lighter in color, and the stem won’t be as firm.
  • Make a horizontal incision 4 to 5 inches down from the branch’s tip. Make sure your cutting has at least three to four pairs of leaves.
  • Trim the cutting’s lowest pair of leaves so that they are flush with the stem. If you can afford to remove more than one pair of leaves, do so. Roots develop more readily from these leaf nodes. But make sure to leave at least two pairs of leaves at the cutting’s tip.
  • Remove the tip half of any leaves that are still pretty large by cutting them in half. This keeps the leaves from slamming into the sides of the plastic bag you’ll later use to cover the cutting (to keep the humidity up).
  • (Optional) Sprinkle rooting hormone and a plant antifungal powder on the stem’s leafless area (both available at a local hardware or garden store). This will promote roots and deter decay.
  • Prepare a small pot and put moistened potting soil inside. The cutting should be planted in the ground, buried down to the first remaining pair of leaves. Lightly water the area surrounding the stem to close any air spaces.
  • Wrap a plastic bag loosely around the entire pot. To prevent the cutting’s leaves from rotting, make sure the bag is not touching them. The bag can be supported by chopsticks or other such objects to keep it off the leaves.
  • Put the pot in a warm location that is protected from the wind and sun.
  • Only rewater your cutting after the top layer of soil is dry after checking on it every few days to make sure it isn’t decaying. In a few weeks, hopefully, the cutting will start to root! If you feel resistance when you gently tug on the cutting, roots have grown.


  • Make sure hydrangeas get enough water for the first year or two after planting and throughout any droughts.
  • Over the course of the growing season, water at a rate of 1 inch per week. Three times a week of heavy watering is preferable to shallow watering. Root growth is promoted by this.
  • All varieties of hydrangeas benefit from constant moisture, but bigleaf and smooth hydrangeas need more water.
  • If the soil is too dry, the leaves will wilt, and there won’t be enough moisture for the flowers to bloom.
  • To water thoroughly while keeping moisture off the flowers and leaves, use a soaker hose.
  • The best time to water hydrangeas is in the morning to protect them from disease and get them ready for the heat of the day.
  • Under your hydrangeas, spread organic mulch to help keep the soil cool and moist, gradually add nutrients, and enhance soil texture.


You might not need to fertilize hydrangeas if your soil is rich. When fertilizer is applied in excess, blossoms are sacrificed in favor of green growth. A soil test is the most effective tool for determining your fertility requirements.

Apply fertilizer according to the type of hydrangeas you have. Every variety has varied requirements and will profit from applying fertilizer at various times.

  • Several mild fertilizer applications in March, May, and June are beneficial for bigleaf hydrangeas.
  • Two applications in April and June work best for oakleaf and panicle hydrangeas.
  • The only time smooth hydrangea plants require fertilizing is in the late winter.

Winter Protection

  • Cover plants with bark mulch, leaves, pine needles, or straw in the fall, at least 18 inches deep. If at all feasible, create cages out of chicken wire or snow fencing and cover the entire plant, including the tip, with the cages. (Avoid using maple leaves; they have a tendency to mat after becoming wet and may suffocate the plant.)

How to Prune a Hydrangea

Many of the queries from readers concern hydrangea trimming. It makes sense that it’s unclear because it relies on the hydrangea kind. Fortunately, identifying which type you have makes determining the best pruning strategy simple. Discover the fundamentals below, then read more about pruning different varieties of hydrangea here.

Pruning Common Hydrangeas

The Bigleaf cultivar of Hydrangea macrophylla is the most popular garden hydrangea shrub. (For more, see below.)

Hydrangeas with large leaves, such as Bigleaf (H. macrophylla), Oakleaf (H. quercifolia), Mountain (H. serrata), and Climbing (H. anomala subsp. petiolaris), are pruned AFTER the summer blooms have passed. On stems from the previous season, these kinds bloom (“old wood).

  • Avoid pruning after August 1 since flower buds actually grow in the late summer and bloom the next season.
  • Dead wood should only be removed in the fall or very early spring.
  • To stimulate branching and fullness, trim one or two of the oldest stems by cutting them all the way to the ground.
  • Pruning the stems all the way to the base is necessary if the plant is old, neglected, or injured. For the following season, you’ll lose the flowers, but you’ll also revive the plant for subsequent ones.
  • The huge Mopheads should not be deadheaded (faded flowers removed); instead, you should leave them over the winter and trim them back in the early spring (to the first healthy pair of buds). Deadheading Lacecaps is OK; simply trim down to the second set of leaves below the bloom head.
  • Avoid pruning unless it is absolutely required while growing H. macrophylla (and H. serrata) cultivars in Zones 4 and 5, and then only after blooming. If not, merely remove dead stems in the spring.

Pruning Other Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas called Panicle (H. paniculata) and Smooth (H. arborescens) are clipped BEFORE flower buds develop. On stems from the current season, these kinds blossom (“new wood).

  • When the plant is dormant in the late winter, prune. The plant will therefore grow new buds in the spring that will result in blossoms even if the winter kills the buds.
  • In general, avoid pruning to “shape the bush” and just remove dead branches.