How to Grow Hydrangeas from Cuttings

Follow these easy steps for propagating your favorite hydrangeas from cuttings.

Hydrangeas are among the best loved flowering shrubs for good reason—their large clusters of flowers grace the garden throughout summer in shades of pink, blue, white, or even pale green. Given the right conditions, hydrangeas are easy to grow, and there are many different types to choose from. And starting new plants from cuttings is a pretty easy process, should you wish to build up your hydrangea display. Just follow these easy steps to grow hydrangeas from cuttings, so you can enjoy even more of these blousy blooms all summer long.

hydrangeas from cuttings for propagating

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When to Take Hydrangea Cuttings

First, it’s important to take the cuttings at the right time. Hydrangeas are pretty flexible; they can be started from softwood cuttings (fresh new growth) taken in early spring, when the plant is just leafing out, or semi-hardwood cuttings (partly matured first year growth that may have developed a semi-woody base) in late summer. Be sure to select cuttings from stems that did not flower so that there will be plenty of energy available for developing a new root system.

Take cuttings early in the morning when stems are full of water.

cutting hydrangea plant for propagation

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Taking Hydrangea Cuttings

  1. Use clean, sharp pruners or shears. Disinfect your pruners with rubbing alcohol to avoid transferring diseases. If you move from one plant to another to take cuttings, disinfect your pruners each time.
  2. Select healthy, current season stems that have not flowered and cut a 4- to 6-inch section that has at least two nodes below the top set of leaves. Be sure to make a clean cut; crushed stems may invite disease.
  3. Using your pruners or a sharp knife, remove the lower leaves. Cut them off close to, but without injuring, the stem. Let the top set of leaves remain. However, if the top leaves are very large, use a clean, sharp knife to cut them in half to reduce the leaf area so that they don’t lose too much moisture while roots are forming.
  4. Keep cuttings moist and out of the sun until you’re ready to stick them.

Sticking Hydrangea Cuttings

  1. Prepare your pots by filling them with fresh, well moistened potting mix or vermiculite. You can use a large (8-10 inch pot) that will accommodate several cuttings or smaller pots for individual cuttings.
  2. Slightly moisten the bottom end of each cutting and dip the base into a rooting hormone, tapping gently to remove the excess. Although using rooting hormones isn't absolutely necessary, they help to promote root development.
  3. Use a dibble or pencil to make a hole in the potting medium and insert a cutting into the hole up to the base of the top set of leaves, and firm the medium around it. Making a hole first prevents the hormone from getting rubbed off.
  4. Water well and allow the excess to drain.
  5. Cover the cuttings with a translucent plastic dome that is tall enough so that the leaves do not touch it. Or make a tent using plastic wrap or a plastic bag that is held up by supports (such as short pieces of bamboo or pencils). This acts like a small greenhouse that helps keep the humidity high around the cuttings. Leave the cover in place for 2 to 3 weeks, and remove it once the cuttings have begun to form roots.

Care Tips for Your Hydrangea Cuttings

  1. Keep your cuttings in an area with bright shade or indirect light indoors. In direct sun, they'll quickly get too hot under their dome or tent.
  2. Water pots when the surface is dry. Do not overwater or the cuttings may rot. Be sure your pots have adequate drainage.
  3. Once new top growth begins, and you feel firm resistance from the roots when you gently tug the cutting (usually in about 6 weeks), transplant cuttings into individual pots or into soil in a protected area of the garden for growing on. By the following spring, your new hydrangeas can be planted in the garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where should hydrangea cuttings be planted?

    Most types of hydrangeas grow best in moist, well-drained soil in part sun to light shade. And be sure to provide your new plants with plenty of space for their mature size. They won’t be small for long.

  • Can hydrangea cuttings be rooted in water?

    It's possible to root hydrangea cuttings in water but it's a less reliable method than starting them in potting mix. Also, you may get roots to grow in water, but the cutting may not transition well to soil later.

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