Everyday Gardeners

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Better Gardener: Propagating Hydrangeas

I learned quickly when we started working on our backyard, that small gardens and winding paths don’t exactly mix well with high-energy, long-legged dogs. Our vizsla, Birch, hurdles over shrubs and flowers every day, stands smack dab in the middle of my Solomon’s Seal, or tramples on my hostas. It usually doesn’t bother me, except when he sprints by my hydrangeas. Oh boy. I always cringe, hoping he’s not too close. I follow behind him, picking up the hydrangea twigs that snap off. Here’s what I do to take advantage of the broken branches!

Propagating Hydrangeas

1. Use new, green growth – not the woody area of the stem, it’s older and won’t produce roots.

2. Dip the tip in rooting hormone, about an inch or so. (Using rooting hormone is optional, but I think it really helps!)

3. Clip large leaves in half, so the plant will focus energy on producing roots.

4. Plant in healthy, organic soil. Consider adding perlite and/or vermiculite to help retain moisture for the new roots.

5. Water, wait and then transplant to the ground!

I planted two cuttings in the terra cotta pots above last summer. (The plastic bags only stayed on for the first week or so. I didn’t think they were totally necessary, so I didn’t leave them that way for long.) Once I could feel that the plants had put out a few roots (just tug lightly to feel if there’s resistance), I moved them to the backyard to be in their natural elements. They grew a good bit in the fall so I transplanted them to a bigger container for the winter.

As soon as the weather got warm this spring (around April), I planted them in the ground and they’ve almost doubled in size already! Each plant had a really complete root system, which I was pleasantly surprised to see.

Hydrangeas are an easy plant to propagate, so give it a try this summer! I am thrilled with this easy method of expanding my garden. Now that I know I can do it, I don’t mind as much when Birch takes off sprinting through the garden. In fact, I kind of hope for a stray branch I can take care of.

Photos from my Instagram

16 Responses to “ Better Gardener: Propagating Hydrangeas ”

  1. Great idea ! I like the closeup photos. The only thing missing here is a picture of that dog Birch!

  2. I love the info, didn’t know I could do this….

  3. I didn’t know you could do this! Wish I had known a couple weeks ago! I dropped a terra cotta pot on my “struggling to establish itself” hydrangea and broke off a beautiful, healthy branch. It made me sad :( Next time…

  4. Do you leave the plant out during the winter months? If so will they come back out or will they freeze? I am in North Carolina
    Thank you, Wanda

  5. i have the same question as Wanda, but i live in Conn.

  6. Wanda and Ellen,
    You’ll need to know if the hydrangea is hardy for your area, and it depends on the variety. The plant tag should give you the zone hardiness rating, but check this map if you’re not sure of what zone you’re in.


    Please let us know if you have any other questions.
    Thank you

    Katie Ketelsen
    >>> Online Garden Editor for Better Homes and Gardens

  7. My hydrangea plant is beautiful and very hardy. The only problem I am having is – no blooms or 1 bloom. I feed it special hydrangea food. It doesn’t have any bugs. It gets very tall BUT no blooms!! What am I doing wrong??

  8. Diane:
    Here is a quick BHG link to why your hydrangea might not be blooming: http://www.bhg.com/gardening/trees-shrubs-vines/shrubs/why-wont-it-bloom/#page=1

    Please let me know if you have any questions! Hydrangeas are my favorite shrub, I’d hate to think you’re missing out!

    Katie Ketelsen
    >>> Online Garden Editor for Better Homes and Gardens

  9. I use to plant the old flower, and I have a lot of plants.

  10. didn’t know this about hydrangea–will use it in the future

  11. When my hydrangeas branches are close enough to the ground, they actually take root. I have one hydrangea that continues to spread.

  12. Diane: About no blooms. If you live in an area that has freezing weather into the spring, there are years when the late freeze kills the buds on even hardy hydrangeas. This may be your problem. If it is not a freeze tempurature situation, I can’t help you.

  13. I am a new home owner and know nothing about plants. I took some clippings from my parents house. After placing them in wet soil with plastic covering, how often do I water them?

  14. once in the ground..should I cover with a upside down pot tp protect for the winter?

  15. c
    I have a hydrangea in the house for the winter. it gets new growth and dries around the edge of leaves. I am watering 1 a week. not a lot of light

  16. How did you winter the fragile starts, once you planted them in the larger pot? Did you leave them outside or in a greenhouse? Thank you!

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