southern gardens

Whitney Curtis

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


Whitney Curtis

Everyday Gardener: Whitney of The Curtis Casa

Hello BHG readers! It’s nice to meet you. I’m Whitney, of the home and garden blog The Curtis Casa, and I am thrilled to be a part of the Everyday Gardeners blog. I’ll be here once a week sharing my gardening inspiration as well as a few tips and tricks I’ve learned in my garden.

When we bought our Atlanta, GA home with its shady backyard almost four years ago, I was surprised to find my favorite home-owning hobby involved playing in the dirt, studying leaf shapes and wondering about the pH of our soil. I really shouldn’t have been so surprised, I grew up with more than a few talented gardeners in my life. Three ladies in particular left indelible marks on my green thumb, Estelle, Beverly and my Mom.

Estelle, we called her “E”, was a sweet elderly lady and frequent babysitter who lived down the street from us when I was a young girl. I toddled through her perfect rows of roses and posed for Easter pictures in front of her monochromatic azaleas. Spending time in E’s garden is etched into my memory. And then there’s Beverly, who was our nanny when my sister came along, and I’ve heard countless stories about the garden adventures she and my Mom got into – installing trellises, cutting holes in sheetrock, digging up plants off the side of the road. Beverly always offers sound advice (I often type out emails from my garden bench) and even sends plants by request from her own garden. The Virginia Bluebells I just planted came straight from Tennessee! And, of course, there’s my Mom. I remember pulling weeds with her in the garden as a little one, for 25 cents a bag. Now, in my garden, Mom and I walk around discussing plants, paths and garden accents. I’m always impressed how she can pull a plant name out of her memory. She’s helping me create our shady garden, and unbeknownst to me until recently, she’s encouraged an enthusiastic gardener, as well. And that story she always tells about caring too well for her beautiful Mexican sage plant, right before it died? Her advice is consistent: “You just have to ignore it for it to grow right.”

I’m using what these ladies taught me daily and I’ve come to realize, gardening is one of those hobbies best spent in the company of others. Especially others whose green thumbs and gardens you admire. Now let’s go get our hands dirty!