Taking hydrangea cuttings: 13 steps to success

Hydrangea cuttings are a great way to get more hydrangeas in your garden, and you can do it yourself!

Hydrangeas are generally easy to take but slow in rooting, so it can be difficult getting them established over winter unless they have rooted well. 

The best time is early summer around July for the particular transplantation because it provides plenty of time to get a good head start….

This article will walk you through the process of taking hydrangea cuttings. 

There is a lot of contradicting information out there that explains how to propagate hydrangea cuttings root and there are several techniques that we use quite often. 

However, the one we outline below is the one we use often with the most success.


Table of Contents

Step 1

Fill one or more 20 cm (8 in) deep pots (the pots need to be deep enough to accept the full length of the cutting stem), with one part sterile compost to one part sharp sand or horticultural grit.

Step 2

Take healthy young shoots, at least 15 centimetres long and from with no less than three-leafed nodes.

Step 3

Cut two inches off the bottom of the stem just above and below the second leaf node. Cut each remaining bottom two leaf nodes in half with sharp scissors to reduce their size as needed – if they are especially large, cut right through the middle.

Step 4

Some gardeners dip their cuttings in hormone rooting powder before transferring them to the soil but we find that this is unnecessary.

leaf node

Step 5

Make deep holes in the compost with a dibber. Plant three cuttings around the rim of an individual pot, making sure that none of the leaves are touching.

Step 6

To improve drainage, fill pots with a little horticultural grit. Make sure to put the compost around the roots of healthy plants and bury cuttings below the leaves to prevent fungus growth.

Step 7

In order to start a hydrangea cutting, soak the cuttings for several hours. Put them in a shady spot so that they don’t get too much sun while they try to root. Place them in a gravel tray with plenty of moisture around their leaves.

Step 8

We find there is no need to use a propagator or cover the pots with polythene, so long as you place the cuttings in a shady area and not in direct sun.

Form Roots

Step 9

If the leaves are wilting, spray them with tepid water every day until they perk up.

Step 10

Planting hydrangea cuttings takes time before they will root. Check for roots once new shoots and top growth start to appear, usually after 4-8 weeks.

Step 11

Once they have rooted well, give them a regular feed with liquid fertilizer.

Step 12

You can pot them on at this stage but we usually wait until they are big enough to plant right into the garden in late summer or early autumn.

Step 13

If the plant cuttings haven’t rooted yet, sink the pot into a hole in your garden and cover it with mulch to keep it snug until spring. Don’t panic if some leaves fall off during winter–they should start sprouting again in the spring.

grow roots

Questions people also ask about hydrangeas

We have compiled a list of questions that other gardening enthusiasts have asked over the years and compiled them here in this article. Here are some of the questions that people ask when taking Hydrangea cuttings and other hydrangea related questions…

Should I cut off dead hydrangea blooms?

It is usually not a good thing to cut off old blooms when taking hydrangea cuttings. Most people do this because they believe that it will encourage new branches to sprout from the base of the plant but, in fact, deadheading actually prevents natural branching from occurring.

Deadheading is a common practice for gardeners and other perennial gardeners as it helps to promote flowering on new growth rather than allowing the plant to become leggy by producing excessive lower branches which may never produce flowers.

Do hydrangeas need sun or shade?

Hydrangeas grow well in clear sunlight and shade. The amount of sun or shade is not really a factor when taking hydrangea cuttings as long as you have an outdoor area that gets enough light for your mother plant to thrive.

grow hydrangeas

How do I replant my hydrangea?

The best way to replant your hydrangea is to dig up the root ball with a trowel and gently pull off any snarled roots. Water it generously until the garden soil is very moist but not soggy then plant it into its new location at a depth just under the point where all of the leaves are touching the ground.

Tamp down around the rootball, water deeply again, keep it moist and then you are done. Hydrangeas don’t need to be fertilized or pruned again for some time so your hard work is well rewarded with a beautiful new hydrangea plant!

What do I do when my hydrangea gets root rot?

Usually, it is due to overwatering which causes the plant’s roots to sit in water rather than at the surface where oxygen can reach them. To fix this problem, simply remove any dead or damaged parts of the parent plant and repot into a fresh location with drain holes in the bottom of the pot and place an inch or two of gravel on top of the soil. Water thoroughly but make sure that there are no standing puddles left after watering.

Root Cuttings

Why do hydrangeas turn blue?

Natural blue hydrangeas are rare and many home gardeners have tried to grow them only to find that their plants turn purple instead. This is because the plant needs a significant amount of acidity in order for it to produce those gorgeous natural blue flowers.

If your soil contains calcium, you will need to add sulfur or aluminium sulfate according to the package directions in order for the plant’s ph balance to be properly maintained so that it can convert enough iron into a form that produces the lovely blue colour when combined with other chemicals within the mother plant.

Why does my hydrangea smell?

Hydrangeas usually only give off a scent when they are pollinated which occurs during the summer months but some varieties may continue to do so in the fall and then through winter.

Will vinegar turn hydrangeas blue?

The answer is yes, it can. Some people will add vinegar to hydrangea plants in the summer months in order to force them into producing vibrant blue flowers but this is not recommended as it throws off the ph balance of the soil and may even cause root rot and damage.

Why didn't my hydrangea bloom this year?

This is usually because the mother plant was stressed in some way. Mealybugs, spider mites, or other pests can easily damage a hydrangea shrub and cause it to fail to produce flowers.

Overwatering can also cause stress as well as late frosts which will kill flower buds that haven’t yet opened. The best way to prevent this is by mulching around your plants with organic material such as straw or pine needles rather than using rocks or wood chips since these materials tend to hold moisture against the base of the plant which causes root rot problems during dry seasons.

new hydrangea

Does baking soda help hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas can be used to make other colours such as purple, pink or blue. The colour is determined by the pH level in the soil and will alter once you add baking soda to it. When a white hydrangea plant starts showing its flowers, you need to transplant them to the same type of soil that they were previously grown in order for them not to turn different colours.

What causes leaf drop on my hydrangeas?

Hydrangea leaves can drop off as early as summer or fall if the plant is not getting enough sun. In winter, leaf drop can be caused by cold temperatures but it also usually occurs whenever the mother plant does not get enough water. They are very drought tolerant and should not sit in puddles of water for long amounts of time.

How do I tell if my hydrangeas are too dry?

If you see severe wilting, yellowing or curling on the edges of leaves then your plants need more water. Hydrangeas prefer to have wet feet which means that they want their soil to be moist at all times however never allowed to soak as this encourages root rot to grow along with a host of other issues.

Are hydrangeas poisonous to dogs?

Hydrangeas are not poisonous to dogs. The plant has toxic elements such as latex, cyanogenic glycosides and saponins that can cause skin irritation or mild illness if eaten but these effects will be nothing more than mild discomfort at worst.

dogs and hydrangea

Are hydrangeas poisonous to cats?

Hydrangeas are not poisonous to cats but may be affected if they happen to eat a large amount of the plant. The same conditions exist as with dogs in that they may have mild stomach upset or skin sensitivity after eating parts of a hydrangea plant.

Are hydrangeas hardy?

Hydrangeas are hardy because these plants actually prefer moist soil to dry conditions. The best way to tell if your mother plant has too much or too little moisture is to look at the leaves. If they are big, wide and full then the soil is wet enough while wilted leaves indicate that it’s time for watering. Durable hydrangeas grow 3+ feet each year and spread out up to 4 feet so you will need ample space to accommodate their growth.

Where are hydrangeas native?

More hydrangeas are native to the Asian countries of China and Japan where they have been grown for centuries. Today, they are also widely produced in the United States and Europe with over 3,000 cultivars.

Which hydrangeas attract bees?

The blooms of a hydrangea plant attract both honey bees and bumblebees. The plants prefer to be planted in well-drained soil that is located in full sun exposure but this does not mean that they will die if grown in wet, shady areas as some people are under the impression. As for ideal locations, many gardeners plant them in dry streambeds or near bodies of water such as ponds, lakes or rivers where their new roots can drink from moisture while their flowers provide colour to the area.

bees and hydrangea

What flower is similar to hydrangea?

The main flower that is similar to a hydrangea bloom in shape, size and appearance is called a peony. These flowers can also be white or pink with multiple layers of petals that fan outward while the centre consists of many small stamens which look like small, fluffy balls.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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