Blooming in spring and summer, the hydrangea is considered a shrub. But despite their ability to be rather large showstoppers in your yard, how to grow hydrangeas isn’t a question even the novice gardener will need to ask – these beauties all but grow themselves. Reaching up to 15 feet in height, the hydrangea grows quickly and often fills in a space in just one summer. You’ll find hydrangeas growing in hardiness Zones 3 to 7 as perennials. With flowers starting in spring and often last throughout summer into early fall, hydrangea flowers can be the foundation plant of your landscape.
As with most things in your garden, learning the basics of how to plant hydrangeas can save you time and money. By choosing the proper location, getting the soil just right and planting correctly, you’ll 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 blooming. The best time of day to plant is early morning or late afternoon. The cooler parts of the day offer protection against heat stress. Keep new plants well-watered until established.
Where to plant hydrangeas
Knowing where to plant hydrangea shrubs 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 heat of the afternoon. The best place to plant hydrangeas is in a sheltered location with sunny mornings and shady afternoons. You often find this on the north or south side of your home. Avoid planting directly underneath trees, which can lead to competition for water and nutrients. High winds can rip and damage leaves and destroy the flowers.
Best soil for hydrangeas
Hydrangeas grow well in soil containing an abundance of organic material. Good drainage is vital. While hydrangeas like moist soil, they cannot tolerate being waterlogged. Soggy, poor 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 prior to 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 your plant sits level with or just higher than the surrounding soil. By creating a slight mound, 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 hydrangeas are best propagated through layering in early to mid-summer. All you have to do is:
- Dig a small trench near your hydrangea plant.
- Bend a branch down to the trench so it touches the soil in the middle of the branch (six to 12 inches of branch should extend past the trench).
- Make scratches in the bark where the branch touches the trench soil.
- Fill in the trench and place a paver, brick or stone on top.
- With time, the branch will form its own root system and may be transplanted to a new location.
Smooth and oakleaf hydrangeas put out new shoots through underground stems. Just dig up the young plant and separate it away from the main plant. It can then be transplanted to a new location.