How to grow and care for hydrangeas (2023)

With dozens of species andeven more varieties, hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.) have been popular ornamental garden plants for decades, with flowers that come in a variety of colors including white, many shades of blue and pink, maroon, red and even light green. Some hydrangeas have large, rounded flower heads, while others have smaller, flatter, more delicate flowers and different leaf shapes depending on the species. To ensure hydrangea shrubs have time to develop a healthy root system, plant them in fall or early spring. Hydrangeas are fast growers, growing an average of two feet or more per year. Note that the plant is poisonous to humansand animals.


Watch now: How to grow and care for hydrangeas

common namesHydrangea, hydrangea
botanical nameHydrangea spp.
plant typeDeciduous shrub
mature sizeUp to 15 ft. depending on variety
sun exposureComplete, partial
soil typeAny
soil pHAny pH, but it can affect flower color
heydaymidsummer to autumn
flower colorVaries by species: white, blue, pink, maroon, red, lilac and pale green
hardiness zones5—9 (USDA)
home territoryAsia, America
toxicityToxic to humansand animals

hydrangea care

Most hydrangeas can adapt to a variety of growing conditions. They are generally hardyUSDA Hardiness Zones5 to 9. When planted in well drained soil with plentyorganic matter, they should grow well. These versatile shrubs thrive in sandy coastal soils, shady wooded areas, and just about everything in between.

Plan to water your hydrangeas regularly to keep them consistently moist, especially during hot and dry weather andfertilizethem once in the spring.

The right time for itPrune a hydrangeavaries depending on the hydrangea species and the time of year they form buds.

How to grow and care for hydrangeas (1)

How to grow and care for hydrangeas (2)

How to grow and care for hydrangeas (3)

(Video) Hydrangeas - everything you need to know about growing hydrangeas in your garden


Too much shade can reduce bud production. Hydrangeas do well in thepenumbraoffer tall deciduous trees, especially if they receive morning sun and the partial shade occurs in the afternoon heat. They will also thrive in full sun but may need extra water on hot summer days.


In general, hydrangeas tolerate a variety of soil types, but they do best in fertile, humus-rich soil. A notable feature ofHydrangea macrophyllais that you can controlflower colorby adjusting the pH of the soil. Acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 or lower will produce blue flowers, and neutral to alkaline soil with a pH of 7.0 or higher will produce pink flowers.


Hydrangeas need constant moisture throughout the growing season: give your hydrangeas a deep drink of water once or twice a week. If there has been heavy rain in your area, you can reduce the extra watering. Every time you pourwater deepuntil the soil feels saturated but is not soggy. Daily light watering is not enough as the water does not reach the root system to keep the plant hydrated.

During particularly hot weather, increase the amount of water you give your plants to keep the soil moist, but make sure they aren't standing in soggy soil. To know if you need to water your hydrangea, poke your finger about four inches into the soil and when it feels dry, it's time to water.

In extremely hot weather, hydrangeas may curl their leaves and appear wilted. This is a built in protection and does not necessarily mean the plant needs water. If you observe this behavior, look back at the plant at dusk to see if it has recovered after temperatures have cooled.

temperature and humidity

Hydrangeas prefer relatively mild temperatures. In areas with bitterly cold winters,Dying off can be a problemwhen the hydrangea is in an unprotected spot or gets too much winter sun.

Since hydrangeas prefer to grow in partial shade, they usually do best when planted in a north- or east-facing location where winter temperatures remain reasonably constant. Avoid planting on the south and west sides of your property, where the warmth of the winter sun could cause buds to swell prematurely and become vulnerable to cold snaps.

Hydrangeas prefer moderate to high humidity, and dry climates can cause their leaves to turn brown and dry.


If your soil is rich in nutrients, you probably don't need to fertilize your hydrangeas. Indeed, if hydrangeas are given too muchnitrogen-rich fertilizer, the foliage will be full and lush, but with fewer flowers. If the soil is not fertile, an organically rich layer will spread in the springCompoundaround the plants or use a fertilizer suitable for flowering shrubs.

Types of Hydrangeas

Of the many hydrangea species, the following are the most commonly used as ornamental shrubs. Some of these hydrangea species flower on new growth (current year's new stems) and those that flower on old growth (last year's stems).

  • Hydrangea macrophylla:Also known as Bigleaf, Mop Head, or Lacecap Hydrangea, this species grows six to ten feet tall and wide with six-inch leaves. Flower color is affected by soil pH; Acidic soil produces blue flowers and alkaline soil produces pink flowers. The buds for the following year are set in mid-summer to autumn.
  • Hydrangea arborescens:Known as smooth hydrangea, this shrub reaches about three to five feet in height and width and produces white to pink flowers. The buds are set on new stems in spring.
  • Hydrangea quercifolia:Commonly calledOakleaf Hydrangea, this plant reaches about two feet tall and wide with white to purplish-pink flowers. Its leaves resemble oak trees, hence its common name. The buds are set in mid-summer to autumn.
  • Hydrangea paniculata: Commonly calledHarvested Hydrangea, the flowers of this species are conical rather than round or flat. For manysorts, the flowers start out white and gradually change to light pink and then a darker pink as they mature. This plant grows quite tall if left unpruned, up to 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. This species flowers on new stem growth.

Propagation of Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas rarely produce seeds, but there are two common ways to propagate the plant. Takecuttingsat the right time can result in stronger, more resilient roots that almost guarantee success when transplanted into the ground. The second method is to root the hydrangeas directly into the ground without having to cut into the bush to the last step. This is the preferred method when you are filling in gaps between shrubs in your garden or want a denser stand of shrubs.

Propagation by cuttings

  1. In very early fall, select a new shoot that is at least 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long and has no flowers. New growth will be a lighter green than old growth.
  2. Using sterile, sharp pruning shears, cut the stem below a leaf node (a node means where you want a set of leaves to grow). In addition to a knot, keep a set of leaves on the stem.
  3. Remove the bottom leaves but keep the top leaves. Carefully cut the remaining leaves in half horizontally (crosswise), not vertically.
  4. Plunge the bottom of the cutoutrooting hormone.
  5. Place the end of the cutting in a small 8- to 10-inch pot filled with moist potting soil. (One pot can contain several cuttings.)
  6. Make a mini greenhouse by covering the pot with a plastic bag and sealing it at the bottom of the pot. Cut a few small slivers at the top of the pouch to allow the cut to breathe. Don't let the bag touch any of the leaves.
  7. Place the pot in an area out of direct sunlight and keep the soil slightly moist.
  8. In two to four weeks, a root system should begin to develop. You can transplant the cutting to allow it to survive the winter to build a strong root system.

Propagated by rooting branches directly into the ground

  1. Bend a long stem/branch down so a large chunk of it is touching the ground.
  2. Cut leaves from the part of the branch that touches the ground.
  3. Push the branch into the ground as best you can without breaking the branch. You can also stick the tip of the branch into the ground.
  4. Secure the branch by weighing it down with a brick or large rock. You will not hurt the branch.
  5. Water the branch as you would normally water the parent hydrangea.
  6. Occasionally remove the weight and gently tug on the branch to see if it has taken root. Once rooted, you don't have to weigh it down.
  7. Once it has taken root, you will need to cut the branch off its mother plant to allow the new shrub to support itself.
  8. If you plan to dig up the newly rooted shrub to move it, wait a few more weeks after pruning so that it is strong enough for transplanting.


Some types of hydrangea, like the Bigleaf hydrangea,may be prone to bud damage in winter.If you live in a very cold area with harsh winters, protect your hydrangea plants from cold winds by wrapping them in burlap or by setting up burlap. You can also tie the branches together with the burlap to give them more spacehelp get through the winter. Remove the jute when the buds begin to swell.

Common pests and plant diseases

The usual types of garden pests can attack hydrangeas, includingaphids, black weevil, the four-lined plant bug,Japanese beetles, Andspider mites. Rose chafer pests can injure the plant by eating and leaving behind skeletonized leaves. Chemical insecticides or less harshinsecticidal soapscan help eliminate most of these insects, but avoid using them during flowering. Instead, hand-pick these pests into buckets of soapy water.

(Video) How To Grow And Care For Hydrangeas Simple And Effective

Hydrangeas are prone to diseases, includingBotrytisfäule,True mildew, and other viruses such as yellow orbrown leaf spots. Fungicides can help with most problems, but will destroy plants infected with virus spots.

Common problems with hydrangeas

Here are the most common problems that can occur with hydrangeas.

No flowers

Hydrangeas must not bloomevery season. This could be due to pruning at the wrong time of year, damage to the buds during unexpected spring or winter cold snaps, or you may have over-fertilized the plant at some point.

The right time for itPrune a hydrangeavaries depending on hydrangea species and season of budding. Therefore, it is important to know what type of hydrangea you are growingto know when to prune it.

drooping leaves

Hydrangea leaves can droop due to lack of water. This happens during the flowering period or in very hot, dry weather, so keep hydrangeas consistently moist.

However, drooping leaves are not always a sign that a hydrangea needs water. These plants have a built-in defense mechanism where they curl their leaves down and appear wilted in extremely hot weather. If daytime temperatures are hovering around 30 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and you observe this behavior, take another look at the plant at dusk to see if it has recovered after temperatures have cooled. If the plant is still wilting in cool temperatures, it could be a sign of dry soil that requires deep watering.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves can indicate that a plant has been overwatered, underwatered, or overfertilized. It may be possible to save the shrub by saturating the roots if the problem is that it is too dry or over-fertilized. Otherwise, you may have to dry out the roots of an overwatered shrub in hopes that this will save the plant.

Brown leaf tips or edges or tips

This problem can occur when the roots have been burned from overfeeding. Brown edges or tips can also result if too much aluminum sulfate has been added to the soil to change the color of the buds. In this case, flush the soil with water to remove excess salts or fertilizers. Then allow the soil surface to dry for a day or two before watering again, and refrain from fertilizing until the plant is healthy again.


  • Can hydrangeas grow indoors?

    Yes and no. Often, potted hydrangeas are given away from the greenhouse as spring gifts that can be kept indoors, but they can be difficult to care for. For example, an indoor hydrangea can be finicky; It will be happiest in a room between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but unhappy in warmer rooms. It is best to plant your potted hydrangea outdoors in your garden for the best results.

    (Video) How to Prune Hydrangea (A Martin Masterclass!) - Pots & Trowels

  • How can I change the color of my hydrangeas?

    You canChange the color of your hydrangea flowersby tinkering with soil pH. Turn blue flowers into pink flowers by reducing the acidity of your soil. Do this by adding hydrated lime to the soil in spring. To turn pink blooms into blue blooms, increase soil acidity. Do this by adding aluminum sulfate to your soil in spring. The color change is not instantaneous, it may take a while for the plant to adjust to the soil pH adjustments.

  • How can I tell if my hydrangea is blooming on new or old wood?

    These terms can be confusing, often resulting in cutting off the woody stems that could hold the buds for next season's blooms. Write down the type of hydrangea you have, when it blooms, and whobest editing practicesfor the plant. If your hydrangea flowers in early summer, you have a plant that will flower on old wood (previous year's stems). If your hydrangea flowers in mid to late summer, you have a plant that flowers on new wood (the current year's stems).

  • Can I train a hydrangea bush to grow into a flowering tree?

    Yes you cantrain a hydrangea bushinto a small flowering tree with a single trunk, but be patient as the process may take a few seasons. Many gardeners pruneLimelight Hydrangeasto trees because they reach just the right height for an ornamental tree. Besides limelight, there are other types oftree hydrangeas(Hydrangea paniculata), which can easily be trained into ornamental trees.


(Video) Spring Hydrangea Care - 5 Tips for Happy Hydrangeas

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Article Sources

The Spruce uses only quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read ourseditorial processto learn more about how we fact-check our content and keep it accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. hydrangea." Extension Office of North Carolina State University.

  2. hydrangea.“ASPCA.

  3. "Hydrangeas in the garden.“Rutgers.Edu.

(Video) How To Propagate Hydrangeas From Cuttings the Easy Way


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