Growing Hydrangeas in Pots

Potted Hydrangea 'Annabelle', Martha Sims of Alabama

Potted Hydrangea 'Annabelle', Martha Sims of Alabama

Doreen writes:

Greetings Ms King

 

Can you plant hydrangeas in pots/planters? If so, what kind of pots are best?

What kind of soil,etc to use when planting in pots?

Your site is great, I am in the process of reading each category.

Thank you

Doreen

 

Potted Mophead Hydrangea by Martha Sims of Alabama

Potted Mophead Hydrangea by Martha Sims of Alabama

 

Hi Doreen,

 

Thanks for writing and for the kind words about my site. I’m glad you enjoyed visiting it.

 

Many people grow beautiful hydrangeas in containers. One lady wrote that she grew all her hydrangeas in pots [See the next post above]. Using large containers is the key to success unless the hydrangea is small. A ½ whisky barrel (or the equivalent) would be about right size for a large plant, especially in a hot climate.

 

One word of caution: when small plants are put in very large containers, the roots can rot if the soil is kept too damp. Start these plants in terra cotta (clay) pots and allow them to grow for a couple of years. Eventually the plant will be large enough to be put in a large container. If you purchase a hydrangea in a 3 or 5 gallon container, you can start with a large pot.

 

There are both advantages and disadvantages to growing hydrangeas in containers. The advantages are: (1) you can move the pots to areas where the sun/shade situation is best. Hydrangeas should get morning sun and afternoon shade or bright shade all day. (2) You can move pots to a garage or other protected area if your climate is too cold in the winter for hydrangeas; and (3) you can grow hydrangeas in areas where no beds exits such as a balcony, a well lighted porch, or around a swimming pool that receives afternoon shade.

 

The main disadvantage to growing hydrangeas in pots is the difficulty of keeping them watered once they have grown a bit. In hot climates, they will require watering every day once their roots have filled the pot (usually hydrangea roots will fill a pot in one or two summers). They are also difficult to transplant into a larger pot since the original pot is probably pretty big. It would be easiest to use dwarf or compact varieties of hydrangeas in pots.

 

There is no doubt that hydrangeas are easier to care for in the ground where, after the first two years, they can almost care for themselves. But sometimes this is not possible. In such instances, pots can be extremely practical.

 

Best of luck and

Happy hydrangeas,

Judith

 

All About Hydrangeas

http://www.HydrangeasHydrangeas.com

A Flower for All Seasons

 

 

 

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67 Responses to “Growing Hydrangeas in Pots”

  1. Nancy Thomas Says:

    I read in good housekeeping that you should keep your plant moist and fertilize weekly. What type of fertilizer is best. My plant is in a container, putting on lots of new leaves but no blooms.

    Hot texas weather so keep it in the shade except for 30 minutes every morning I move it to the sun.

    Thanks
    Nancy

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Nancy,

      Since your plant is in a container, fertilize it weekly with a well-balanced liquid fertilizer. You can use any of the MiracleGro products. Just choose one that is easy for you to use. You can’t go wrong if the fertilizer shows flowers or vegetables on the package. If your plant were in the ground, I’d suggest a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote. You can still use Osmocote, but you may prefer the liquid for more interaction with your hydrangea.

      Sometimes it takes a hydrangea takes a couple of years to start blooming. This is not unusual. You are correct to keep it in the shade most of the day in Texas. You could give it a little more than 30 minutes of sun, though, if your shade is heavy. Gradually increase the amount of sun to a couple of hours – from 8-10 am or 9-11 probably would be about right. If it wilts, just mist the leaves and eventually it will get accustomed to the morning sun. It should experience some freezing weather this winter, so hopefully you live in an area cold enough to freeze. However, if you live in or around Dallas or the Panhandle, you may need to protect the plant when very cold, icy weather is predicted.

      Best of luck,
      Judith King
      http://www.HydrangeasHydrangeas.com

  2. Janice Says:

    Is it possble to grow hydrangeas in St. Pete. FL.? Is it better to plant in the ground or containers? thanks

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Janice,

      St Petersburg, FL is right on the border of where hydrangeas might be grown in Florida and where they just won’t grow at all. In general, if you do not get some freezing weather, hydrangeas cannot go into dormancy and will not do well for long. You might get your hydrangea to survive for a couple of years, but if it cannot go into dormancy, it normally gives up and slowly dies.

      Ideally, hydrangeas prefer (1) consistently moist, rich soil and (2) they do best in cooler climates. They also need (3) a dormant period (freezes), especially in hot climates. Sometimes we can get them to bloom if the growing area for hydrangea has two of these three characteristics. But, unfortunately, some parts of Florida can only offer one of these characteristics – good soil, if it is well prepared.

      If your area receives a few freezes in the winter, you may have very good luck with hydrangeas. If you decide to try them, they often do much better in the ground than in pots. Also, in hot climates, pots must be watered every day once the hydrangeas have matured a little.

      I’m sorry if this sounds negative, because I would love for everyone to grow hydrangeas.

      Best of luck,
      Judith

  3. Barb Hahn Says:

    We live in Illinois borderline Wisc. Love hydrangeas and was given a huge pot for Mothers day. Would love to put them in the container. Just want to make sure I do everything right!!!! Thanks for any additional help you can give me.~Barb

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Barb,

      Hydrangeas do very well in pots. As I mentioned in my answer about growing in pots, it’s important to take watering very seriously. Watering can be a special problem when you put a plant with a small root system in a “huge pot”. In your area, I might even suggest growing your hydrangea in the sun to make sure the soil dries out quickly enough. If the soil stays wet a long time, the roots can’t breath, and the plant will die.If you’ve had this hydrangea indoors, it must be gradually acclimated to the outdoors before putting it in the sun. If your hydrangea blooms wilt in the sun, you will have to move it to afternoon shade. But in your area, many people tell me they grow hydrangeas in the sun. Also, it might help if you put other plants in the same pot. You could grow annuals around the hydrangea, or you could put more than one hydrangea in the pot if it is truly huge. Once the plants grow and the roots fill the pot, they will be much easier to water because the roots will dry the soil out on a regular basis.

      I don’t know if your hydrangea will survive the winter in a pot near the Wisconsin border. That may be just a little too cold. You could try pushing (or rolling) the pot into an unheated garage for the winter to give it a little protection.

      I hope your hydrangea thrives.
      Judith

  4. Heather Says:

    I have visited this site several times and it has really helped me a lot. I am new to gardening, so I have a lot to learn. I am growing a hyrdrangea in a container and i have a concern. Can you prune some of the leaves that have wilted or turn yellow? If yes, is there a certain spot to cut them? Thank you for your advice and website. It is great!

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Heather,

      If leaves are wilted, removing the leaves won’t help and may harm the plant if there are a lot of them. It’s best, with wilting, to discover what is causing the leaves to wilt. The soil may be staying too wet, the plant may have been over fertilized, or the soil could be getting too dry. If the soil is drying out almost every day, you will want to repot the hydrangea in a larger pot. This will give it a new lease on life and will also make your life much easier.

      You can remove any yellow or brown leaves at any time. Just pull them off (straight down) or cut them off next to the stem.

      Best of luck with your hydrangea. I hope it does extremely well.

      Judith

  5. Heather Says:

    Thank you very much for the information. I live in Arkansas and in my city it is hard to find an experienced person to help a beginner. I’m grateful that I found your site.
    I test the soil everyday by placing my finger about 5-6 inches into the soil. The soil feels cool and my finger comes out a little dirty. I compare it to when you stick a toothpick in a cake that is not fully baked and a little batter is left on the toothpick!! Am I checking the soil correctly? Is this how the soil should feel?

  6. pjulsrud Says:

    I have just purchased a “Twist & Shout” hydrangea which I would like to keep in a pot defying advice from my local garden center. Because I live in Minnesota, I need advice about care over the winter. I will move the hydrangea into a heated (40°) garage. But should I leave it outside until the first few freezes or move it before the frost begins? Do I water it over the winter or allow it to go dormant? What care do I give it in the spring?

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Jennifer,

      Thanks for your comment. Your hydrangea should do fine in a pot this summer. As you mention, it’s the winter you will have to be concerned about. Hydrangeas are healthiest and do best when they can go through a full dormant period. If they do not, they gradually stop blooming and eventually seem to decline. It isn’t easy, though, to get them through a winter indoors, even with cold temperatures. In general, it is best to allow them to stay outdoors until they have lost their leaves (they will look alarmingly pitiful after the first freeze, but that’s OK). They can withstand temperatures down to the mid to low 20s in a pot (much colder in the ground). Hopefully your winter will come on gradually, and you can leave it out through several frosts and freezes. Then take it into the garage. Hopefully the temperature will stay fairly cold in the garage. Even if it freezes, this will be fine as long as it doesn’t get below about 25. Don’t let it dry out completely. Depending on how dry the air is in your garage, you may need to water it about once a month. Check the soil with your finger before watering it. If the soil is damp on top, don’t water the plant! If it feels slightly dry on top (but moist below), it is time to water. Give the plant enough water to start draining out the bottom a little. Don’t let it sit in water.

      In the spring, after you think you’ve seen the last frost (I know this can be hard to determine), put the plant back outdoors in morning sun.

      Good luck
      Judith

  7. Kathy Says:

    Hi Judith,

    I live in upstate NY and we are moving this February. I want to try to keep my hydrangea, but am not sure about when to dig it up, where to keep the pot over winter and how to care for it indoors. It was originally a grocery-store foil wrapped hydrangea that I received for a birthday a few years ago that I planted outside and it has done reasonably well, but is still small enough to move. What do you recommend?

    Thanks,
    Kathy

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Kathy,

      I’m glad you wrote. The best time to dig up an established hydrangea is after it loses it’s leaves in the fall but before the ground becomes too frozen. Probably late November in your area, but I’m not positive. Prune off a good bit of the foliage (maybe 1/2), put it into a pot a little larger than the root system, add soil if there is room for it, and set it in a protected corner outdoors. If you have an unheated shed or garage, this might work, but the garage should get pretty cold – at least well below freezing (our garage is unheated, but it never freezes here in the DC area.) You are fortunate that your hydrangea is not a large, established plant. Large ones are very difficult to dig up and move. Unless your hydrangea is one of the ever-blooming type such as Endless Summer, you will probably not get blooms next summer. But the following year it should bloom again as usual. I don’t know where in NY you live now, but f you are moving further north or more inland, it may not do as well as it has in the past. If you move the other directions, it may do better. Good luck. I hope it does very well. – Judith

  8. Tara Says:

    I live in Tallahassee, FL and just purchased two hydrangea plants for my front porch pots. What do you suggest is the best care for them, the porch is shaded all day. I am usually not very good with plants, buys hydrangeas are so beautiful and add so much color. I would love for them to last. Ia renting and want tone able to move them with me next year.

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      I bet they are beautiful in the pots on your porch. When someone says they aren’t very good with plants, I think this usually means that they don’t inspect their plants regularly. You can become very good with plants if you will just look at them almost every day and if they look dry, water them. If your plants start drying out too quickly, they may need to be put into larger pots. If it is too shady on your front porch you may need to move the pots a little further out into the light. In Florida, though, you sure don’t want them in the sun after about 10:30 AM. These are the main requirements. If you want to learn more about growing your hydrangeas, visit my site at http://www.HydrangeasHydrangeas.com. Good Luck. – Judith

  9. Jody Schreiner Says:

    Greetings From The Beautiful Pacific Northwest!….Last year I bought two hydrangeas, which was about ten to twelve inches tall, I planted them in two very large pots…This year, those beautiful dark pink jungle beasts are huge! I tied them up, but a few days later they were going in every direction again, some where I read that it’s not a good idea to cut them back, as you will cut flowers for the following year…The blooms are huge, and hundreds of them, I have other hydrangeas planted in the ground, which are bright blue, but they have never grown like these two! Is there a special way to control these out of control plants? They were fantastic until they grew so big they flopped over….I really want to keep them in pots on the patio…Altho, I just had some large brick planters built, I am considering planting them in one of them…Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!….Thanks A Million….Jody

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Jody, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of potted hydrangeas doing as well as yours have. They sound like big bruisers! The variety or varieties that you planted are simply destined to be very large. There is really no way to keep them smaller. It’s true that you could prune them after the blooms are no longer pretty, but you might be pruning off the blooms for next year. You could put these jungle beasts in the brick planters, but in all honestly, they sound like they are going to get too large for those, too. What would be ideal would be to plant the large ones in the ground and plant some smaller varieties such as hydrangea ‘Ami Pasquier’ or hydrangea ‘Harlequin’ in the pots. I don’t know if this would be possible or not. I wish I had a better solution for you. Good luck – Judith

  10. Kim K Says:

    I have a hydrangea that has been in a pot for 3 years….I’ve brought it inside the past 2 winters and it’s done well, even though at the end of the winter it has less leaves but still has blooms. It is blooming amazingly outside now – there must be 12 blooms on it. I’m wondering if I can cover it (both the plant and the pot) and keep it outside next to the house this winter. We live in Colorado….thanks for the help!

  11. hydrangeashoh Says:

    Kim, this is a tough question, and there isn’t a good answer. There is a very good chance that your hydrangea would do well in a pot outdoors If you live in Denver or warmer, but there is also a small chance that it would not do well. If the hassle of bringing it in is getting to be too much trouble, it might be worth it to take the chance. If you decide to just cover it, be very careful that the cover doesn’t rub on the ends of the stems where the new growth will produce the blooms. Take a look at the suggestions on my site about “winterizing” the plant. http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/winter_protect.html
    Good luck, and if you leave it out, let us know if it blooms next year.
    Judith

  12. Tom Nielsen Says:

    We have a hydrangea in a pot, and it is doing well, except no blooms. We keep it in bright shade. What is the secret. Southern New Mexico

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Tom, have you read The Reasons Hydrangeas Fail to bloom on my site: http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/wont_bloom.html? This page goes into more detail than I can go into here. One reason hydrangeas fail to bloom is that they are improperly pruned, or the buds are damaged at the end of the branches before they can bloom. Also, I don’t know how much cold weather your get, but hydrangeas need a period of freezing weather to bloom well. If you get freezes, then you can eliminate this as a possible problem. I’m wondering how long you’ve had your hydrangea. Sometimes it takes a couple of years for the hydrangea to start blooming. Also, make sure the pot never completely dries out – summer or winter. If you can give it more light/sun in the morning, this might help. Good luck. I hope your hydrangea blooms next year. Judith

  13. Marion Busby Says:

    Hi. Just wanted to comment, I have a hydrangea I am growing in a pot and it is doing very well. This is my 2nd year of having it, and I am enjoying it so much. So far it is growing bigger than it did last year, but not so large that I have to plant it in the ground yet. No blooms yet, but it is developing them. Looks like I will have a lot more blooms on it this year. I have had no major problems with it, but I did have a little worry last year. It had developed some spots on the bottom of some of the leaves, but I bought some spray in the garden center at Walmart and sprayed the leaves and stems with it, and it cleared right up!! Mostly, I keep it outside our front door where it receives mostly shade with maybe little sun in the morning. (our house and thereby the hydrangea faces north). Occassionally, I move it where it will receive more sun, but it has done so well in the spot I keep it in that it mostly stays where it is. The pot is in a slightly slow draining area, but I put some river rocks beneath the pot and it seems to help the drainage. We live in Arkansas so most of our weathers are mild. Never brought it inside during the winter last year, however I did have to cover it, and I moved it a couple of times under our carport, along with also keeping mulch around it.

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Marion, It sounds like your hydrangea is thoroughly enjoying the pot and location it’s in. You seem to have handled any problems (such as leaf spot) very well. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I hope you have a lot of blooms this year. I think my potted hydrangea is budding up very well, too. One reason you are having such good luck is that you’ve left it outside. Bringing it indoors would have been hard on it. Good luck.
      Judith

  14. Shirley Says:

    I love hydranges and have several that i planted in my flower beds last year. My questions is I have been putting alkaline plant food around my hydranges. How will this effect my other flowers which I give regular fertifizer?

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      What is the reason you are putting alkaline plant food on your hydrangeas? Are you trying to change the color to pink? Some flowers prefer an alkaline soil such as plants with gray-green leaves, others will show signs of poor nutrition such as yellowing or lighter green leaves if the soil gets too alkaline. Your fertilizer probably isn’t very strong, and is unlikely to affect your other flowers adversely. However, if you are not trying to change the color of the flowers, hydrangeas really grow strongest in an acid soil as do many garden flowers.- Judith

  15. Pamela Says:

    Hi – First, let me say, I truly appreciate your sight and the abundance of information it provides!
    I live in Galway, Ireland. I moved here last July and this is the first year I’m able to get my garden in order. I want to plant a blue mophead hydrangea in a small plastic whiskey barrell planter that measuers 22 across the top and is about 14 inches deep. I plan to put gravel in the bottom to help with drainage. It will get morning sun (on the days the sun shines anyway..LOL) from around 7 am until around 12 or 1 pm. The rest of the day will be shaded. The temperatures here are cooler and it rains alot, so I’m more concerned about it staying too wet than too dry.
    Do you think it will do okay in that location? Our temps are generally in the high 40’s at night and low to mid 60’s during the day from June to September. We do get cold enough in the winter for them to go into dormacy.
    Many of my neighbors have them planted in the ground, but I prefer them in a planter since my front garden is concreted. Would a large clay pot be better or a 30 x 18 x 18 clay planter? It would receive sun for another few hours if I plant there.

    Thanks for your help,
    PB

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Pamela, The location for your plant sounds very good, but the fact that the pot does not have drainage is going to be a problem. Although it may be a little difficult, I would put holes in the bottom of the planter with either a drill or a hot instrument such as a heated screw driver. I have had to do this many times. I’ve even drilled through hard glazed ceramic with a special bit to get the drainage the plant needed. If you don’t have drainage holes, the pot will act as a bathtub and will surely fill up with too much water to be helped by the gravel. Your cool temperatures will not assist in drying the soil out between rains. The gravel might work if your pot is under a porch or somehow out of the rain, and you water it entirely by hand. A clay pot would be better, but unless you have a large mature hydrangea, 30 inches is too large (or do you mean another measurement in metrics?). There would be too much soil for the small hydrangea. The soil would stay wet and cool, which would, most likely, rot a small plant. It’s very important to size the pot to the plant. Ideally, one would use a smaller pot and then repot it into a larger pot as the plant roots filled the small pot. I’ve tried and tried to rush this process by planting the original small plant into a large planter. I’ve lost the plant every time. However you decide to do it, clay would be better than plastic in your climate, and either should have plenty of drainage holes. Good luck. – Judith
      http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com

      • Pamela Says:

        Thanks for the advice Judith. I purchased the Hydrangea yesterday. It’s about 18 inches tall in a gallon size pot. I do have a large clay pot with drainage holes that I’ll put it in this year, just to be safe. I sincerely doubt I’ll have to water often as we get rain, even if only a sun shower, almost daily. We usually get a heavy rain at least two or three days per week..

        Maybe next year or the year after I can move it to the larger barrel planter.

        I was talking about inches. Since I’m American, I still have the habit of converting the cm & mm they use here to inches and feet. Old habits die hard.

        Pamela

      • hydrangeashoh Says:

        Good luck, Pamela. I hope your hydrangea is a big success in the clay pot. Let me know if you have further questions. You can write to me directly at this email address.

        Judith

        All About Hydrangeas http://www.HydrangeasHydrangeas.com A Flower for All Seasons

  16. Pamela Says:

    One more thing…would it be good idea to leave the hydrangea in the pot I buy it in and just cover the top with soil? Once it gets rootbound in the plastic pot, move it into the actual planter?

    Thanks again!

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      The hydrangea will probably be root-bound in the original pot it is purchased in. It’s best to pot it up into a larger pot (preferably clay), but not a huge pot. Then when it gets too big for that pot, you canput it into a larger planter.

  17. Jeff Says:

    I’ve taken a few garden tours over the years. The hydrangeas they grow in the south and west of England and in Ireland are amazing. I’ve gotten a few of my favorites and have kept then alive, but no better. I presume the problem with potted hydrangeas is to get them dormant when the growing season is done and KEEP them dormant till the next growing season begins. Yes? Well, here in Massachusetts, the winters last half the year and temps get to -15 Farenheit pretty regularly. The “unheated garage” trick would be nice, but all I have is an unheated 150 year old barn. Might as well be outdoors. The coolest part of the house is the large front hall at 55 to 65 degrees. I can’t seem to keep things dormant there.
    Ideas?
    Thanks.

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Do you ever see hydrangeas growing in your part of Massachusetts (in the ground)? I know hydrangeas grow beautifully along the Massachusetts coast. Martha’s Vineyard is well-known for it’s luscious hydrangeas. You are correct that hydrangeas do best when they have a period of dormancy. But even if they didn’t need dormancy, growing them indoors is a messy, unrewarding experience. If you grow them in pots and can’t find a winter place to keep them, then you might want to try growing the beautiful white hydrangeas that should do well in your area. These would be any variety of Hydrangea paniculata or Hydrangea arborescens. Check out my website if you are not familiar with these hydrangeas (www.HydrangeasHydrangeas.com). I wish I had a better suggestion so you could grow the pink and blue ones, but if it gets to -15 F in your area, these just might not be worth the effort. Good luck. Judith

      • Jeff Says:

        The Massachusetts coast is a very good environment for all sorts of hydrangeas. I’m 60 miles inland at 1,100 feet elevation and 2 zones colder. My PGs and arborescens radiata thrive outdoors. I have a ‘Preziosa’ tucked between an evergreen Euonymus and the east side of the house. It does pretty well after most winters. This serrata hybrid has a reputation for being hardier than the macrophyllas. Seems to be true, but that’s about the limit.
        What I’m interested in for pots are items such as macrophylla ‘Quadricolor’. Gorgeous. Tender. All you need is the foliage. Imagine it alongside a Fuchsia magellanica ‘Tricolor’. Both variegated, but very different.

        Can you tell that I’m not giving up yet?

        So, what air temperature range is needed to achieve and maintain that minimal indoor dormancy?

      • hydrangeashoh Says:

        Jeff,

        It sounds as though you are a wonderful gardener. I’m wondering where you got your taste for tropicals (fuchsias) or “almost tropicals.”

        I don’t know what the ideal low temperature would be to achieve dormancy in a hydrangea. Interestingly, if the climate is relatively cool all year long (such as it is in San Francisco), dormancy doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue (no freezes in SF). Hydrangeas grow and bloom there year after year. However, in south Texas or south Florida, people struggle just to get a couple of years of bloom from a hydrangea that experiences no freezing weather. As cool as it is where you live, it’s possible that hydrangeas would bloom without a full dormancy. I’ve often wondered about leaving them outside for a couple of frosts or freezes and then bringing them into a cool room. But I haven’t experimented with this, since I’ve always lived in fairly hot, humid climates.

        I’m curious about macrophylla ‘Quadricolor.’ I’ve always assumed it was just a marketing ploy, not actual colorful leaves. Have you have experience with it? Have you seen the leaves in a healthy environment and not just in pictures?

        Judith

        All About Hydrangeas http://www.HydrangeasHydrangeas.com A Flower for All Seasons

      • Jeff Says:

        In Ireland (I just returned from a two week trip!) the Fuchsia magellanica type grows as enormous hedges and the escaped specimens rival my hundred year old lilac. The gulf stream is amazing. Gardens such as Great Dixter in the south of England are wonderful show places for the smaller F. gracilis varieties.

        ‘Quadricolor’ is exactly that. Each leaf has bright green, butter yellow (not chartreuse), snow white, and ghostly grey. I kept mine for a couple of years before losing it to misguided attempts at overwintering. It’s hard to find. ‘Tricolor’ or ‘Versicolor’ or ‘Lemon Wave’ are just not close. Nurseries will sell you those. I brought mine home from England a decade ago and have been unable to find a replacement.

        I like variegated foliage, but it can be tricky in a garden display. I was impressed by Buddleja ‘Harlequin’ in front of Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentia’ in Beth Chatto’s garden a few years ago. They’re quite different from each other, making excellent contrast. Simple. Striking. Confusing. You could be fooled into thinking you were seeing flowers.

        Now. I’ve tried the several frosts and then bringing them in trick. The problem is, they start growing and getting leggy in February in my front hall. Not a healthy situation by the time frosts are past in mid May. Keeping dormancy is the trick. Of course, I could put them out in the melting snow when they leaf out, but it’s not fun playing dodge-ball with a hundred-pound pot against the night freezes.

      • hydrangeashoh Says:

        You make me want to go right out and buy one of the ‘Quadricolor’ hydrangeas. Are you a writer? Butter yellow, snow white, and ghostly grey are VERY vivid descriptions. :)

        I feel the same about variegated foliage. It can be extremely seductive in the garden center, but when I get it home, placing it can be challenging. Interesting idea of the colored foliage looking like flowers.

        Thanks for the feedback on leaving them out for frosts and bringing them in. You are so right about trying to grow them indoors. They can be a mess. I haven’t had much luck covering them with layers on a cold patio, but some people in very cold climates report great success. But these people go through a lot to get and keep them covered well.

        Judith

        All About Hydrangeas http://www.HydrangeasHydrangeas.com A Flower for All Seasons

  18. Jeff Says:

    Quadricolor.

    http://www.gardenworldimages.com/Details.aspx?ID=66224&TypeID=1

    The color is better than this shows and each leaf is different, but it gives a good idea.

  19. Elaine Atwood Says:

    I received a blue hydrangea as a gift in the spring. It bloomed happily all summer in its pot outside on the deck. Now, its leaves have fallen which I understand is a sign of dormancy and that it should be moved into a cool, dark place for 6 weeks. However, it also has numerous new leaves just opening. Should I therefore ignore any need for dormancy and keep it in a relatively cool medium light area of the house over the winter? (northern Alberta)
    Thanks for any suggestions
    Elaine

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Elaine, It sounds like your hydrangea is in good health. However, it will probably continue to drop leaves, which will get pretty messy for a houseplant. But if you can put up with the mess, it may do fine in your home. It’s best to keep it in a room that doesn’t get much heat, next to a window with very bright light. Mist the plant regularly since most homes are dry in the winter. If the air is too dry, pests my be attracted to the underside of the leaves. As you have probably read before, hydrangeas don’t make ideal houseplants for more than a few weeks, but you may get lucky with this one since it is already putting on more leaves.
      Good luck, Judith
      http://www.HydrangeasHydrangeas.com

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  21. Karen P. Says:

    Hello Judith,
    You certainly seem the Hydrangea Person, so here goes! I live in Central PA, bought a pretty little hydrangea in the grocery one spring 2 yrs ago, then transplanted it into a tall ceramic pot outside. It seemed happy there, then I transplanted it into the ground for over-wintering, then back into the same large pot this spring. She’s growing nicely, and now I’m not sure what to best do next? Should I continue this in-the-ground-over-winter gig? (no garage avail) I’m concerned it may grow too large for the planter, and I also don’t have room in the ground for another hydrangea (out-of-control love affair!). Does it make sense to transplant over winter? Or can I just leave it in the planter (or will the container crack with freezing temps?) A gardening neighbor suggested that I move it to the earth, cutting back some of the roots so that it will fit back in the container. Would I cut back before or after winter? Or at all? My head is swirling with confusion!!!
    Many thanks,
    Karen

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      If you plan to continue growing your hydrangea in a pot, you’ve got a pretty good system going. You are correct, if the pot is ceramic it will eventually break outdoors in the winter. I’ve lost many ceramic pots to freezing weather. You’d think I’d learn. On the other hand, you could use an attractive pot that is not breakable. The good thing about your method is that when you dig it up you can prune the roots back, as your neighbor suggests. Just the process of digging it up will keep the roots more manageable. If you leave it in the pot year round, it won’t be long before it is completely root-bound and impossible to keep watered and fertilized. Good luck with this project. I think I would probably find a spot and leave it in the ground, but maybe you have a lot more energy than I do. :)
      Judith

      • Karen P. Says:

        Thank you Judith. I appreciate your help. I agree that leaving it in the earth year-round seems easiest, I just don’t have the room for another shrub, but love the elegance of this miniature. I’ll try cutting the roots back a bit in the spring after over-wintering. One last thing—is there a ‘best’ time to transplant (early vs late autumn)?

      • hydrangeashoh Says:

        Karen,

        You can start transplanting now, but the “best” time is after the leaves have fallen, but before the ground is hard. I would add for myself – to do it before it’s too cold to enjoy it. :)

        Do you know the name of the elegant little miniature?

        Judith

      • Karen P. Says:

        My plant looks wonderfully healthy, very green and happy right now, so I think I’ll wait for colder temps as long as that’s okay. I bought it at a Trader Joe’s–the label just says “Keepsake Plants–Hydrangea”. I looked it up here just now: http://www.keepsakeplants.com/products/hydrangea–says it’s not hardy outdoors. so maybe our unseasonably warm winter of ’12 helped. Also, I see it has a ‘compact habit’, so perhaps it was developed to stay small for indoors? Reading more about these ‘grocery store’ plants, it sounds as though they’re ‘hot-housed’ for indoor display, but not intended for outdoor planting…although some folks strike gold once in awhile. Mine had such beautiful foliage and flowers this year. It was my First Hydrangea, and I was then inspired to buy two ‘real’ ones. But it might actually be my favorite–thus the desire to treat it with kid-gloves!

  22. Jackie Says:

    What is the best soil for growing them in a pot outside in Orange County, NY?

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Jackie, A soil that is rich in organic matter and contains some material that will allow it to drain well is ideal. You don’t want to get anything too heavy. One mix that would work well would be compost mixed with small pinebark pieces, Perlite, or pecan shell pieces. I don’t know what is available in your area, but your local nursery could tell you what an inexpensive drainage material would be. If you would like to use houseplant soil, make sure the bag says that it drains well. It will probably have quite a bit of Perlite in it. This is a non-organic material that helps to keep the soil light. You will have to provide all the nutrition through fertilizer if you use houseplant soil (which is fine).
      Judith

  23. Lisa Newey Says:

    thank you for this site, I love it and of course love all things hydrangea. I have never outgrown the love of them. As a small child I used to think they were giant snowballs…but colored. hahaha. That being said, I did a lasagna bed for mine, layering with all the nutrients and organic materials my lovely flowering plant needs. I have not seen any trouble, and so far so good. I did this inside a whiskey barrel. Mainly because we have alkaline soil here in Croatia, and I want blue and purple hues, so it is easier to manage the soil acidity this way for me.

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Lisa, I’ve never received a message from a hydrangea grower in Croatia. It’s interesting that you are growing them in a whiskey barrel. I hope that you get the blues and purples you’d like to see. Just don’t overwater them if they are small plants. Come back to this site if you get some good results to report to us. Best of luck, Judith (www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com)

  24. Autum Says:

    Hello I just purchased my first hydrangea today. It is a blueberry parfait hydrangea. Hydrangeas are my favorite flowers. I am really stuck on what kind of soil do I use. I am putting them into a pot. Could you please tell me what soil I should use, The soil out of my garden or potting mix? Also what is your opinion on what plants look great with Hydrangeas. I love hostas and impatients I have them all over my yard in the summer months. Please help me I do not want to kill my hydrangea.

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Autum, congratulations on purchasing your first hydrangea. The most important thing to consider is the pot you will put it in. It should be a few inches larger than the pot the hydrangea is growing in. You don’t want to use a huge pot or the small hydrangea is in danger of rotting from an abundance of wet soil. Clay pots seem to get hydrangeas off to a better start than plastic pots, but if you are careful not to overwater the plant, a plastic pot will be best when the plant grows larger and the roots need an abundance of water.

      You asked about the soil to plant them in. In pots, I like to use only sterile potting mix. Don’t use any garden soil. This eliminates most of the disease problems right away and you can control the drainage. If the mix you buy looks smooth and dark, add a little Perlite or course bark to the mix to make it drain quickly. A smooth, dark mix may mean that it will pack together when it’s watered because all the particles are small. Make sure the drainage holes are large enough. I like to cover the holes with broken pot shards or plastic canvas used in needlework. Best of luck. (http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com)
      Judith

  25. Autum Says:

    I found this potting mix here was wondering was it a good kind
    Exclusive | All-Organic Container Mix with the Power of Compost
    Specially formulated mix provides optimal growing conditions for container plants
    New formula is ideal for both standard and self-watering containers
    All-organic blend favored by professional organic growers
    Many soil mixes are too heavy for good root growth and contain few, if any, nutrients. Our Vermont-made mix contains nutrient-rich compost for energy, and sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite for aeration and water retention. It’s the perfect growing medium in containers, especially self-watering containers. Try it yourself and see why it’s the choice of professional growers everywhere.
    I found this at http://www.gardeners.com/

  26. Dolores Says:

    Wonderful site and pics. Great simple tips for us that are just beginning to love these precious plants. I grew up and remember a huge one at my parent’s home. With Mom now gone, I bought ten plants. Out of the ten only two seem to have some buds. I had hoped I did everything right. Before I dig up receipts and send them back to the supplier, does anyone have any ideas? I am in New Jersey, and put one in the ground; one in a huge pot, and the others in medium pots. Seems 2 of the medium pots are the only ones alive. HELP! Thanks so much!

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Dolores, I’m so glad you enjoyed my hydrangea site. However, I’m sorry to hear that some of your hydrangeas don’t have buds. I believe you would already see fat buds on the hydrangeas if they had made it through the winter. This has been a really bad winter (and unending winter) and so many people have lost plants. New plants are always more difficult to get through a cold winter than established ones. I lost one potted hydrangea this winter and another one looks as though some of the branches are dead. This is in a fairly protected spot, too. At this point, I wouldn’t cut yours back. Watch the soil for sprouts. Sometimes they will come from the ground. If, after the others have leafed out, you still don’t see leaves, I think you will have to assume they didn’t make it. Good luck, Judith

  27. Kathy Says:

    There isn’t much shade in my yard . Is there anything I can do to help it survive the summer in Missouri

  28. Kathy Malec Says:

    I received a hydrangea bush from my son for Mother’s Day, it’s not very big right now. I need to know if I can grow this in a pot and if so how big of one, I have no room to plant in my yard, any help from you on this would be greatly appreciated. I live in Minnesota

    Thank you

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      You have a very thoughtful son. :) I’m going to repeat much of what I said in a post below. You certainly can grow your hydrangea in a pot. It should be a few inches larger than the pot the hydrangea is growing in. You don’t want to use a huge pot or the small hydrangea is in danger of rotting from an abundance of wet soil. Clay pots seem to get hydrangeas off to a better start than plastic pots, but if you are careful not to overwater the plant, a plastic pot will be best when the plant grows larger and the roots need an abundance of water.

      In pots, I like to use only sterile potting mix. Don’t use any garden soil. This eliminates most of the disease problems right away, and you can control the drainage. If the mix you buy looks smooth and dark, add a little Perlite or course bark to the mix to make it drain quickly. A smooth, dark mix may mean that it will pack together when it’s watered because all the particles are small. Make sure the drainage holes are large enough. I like to cover the holes with broken pot shards or plastic canvas used in needlework. Best of luck. – Judith (http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com)

  29. An Di Says:

    My mother lives in Los Angeles CA and is wanting to repot her hydrangeas. I have read other sites and the recommended soil is a combination of azalea and camelia soil for container potting. Nurseries in her area have told her to use ‘a good soil’. Would the combination mentioned be considered ‘a good soil’? Home Depot sold her a bag of Perlite and camelia soil.She is 86 years old and doesn’t want to destroy the hydrangeas received as a birthday gift. I have read all the comments posted here and Miracle Gro and organic potting soils have been mentioned. Thank you.

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi An Di,
      I believe the Perlite and camellia soil combination would be very good for re-potting your mother’s hydrangea. The Perlite would give it the drainage it needs. Another thing to consider is the size of the pot. Make sure it is put into a pot that is no more than 3-4 inches larger than the pot it is in now. Also, if the pot is outdoors, give the plant plenty of light, but very little sun. If it is indoors then sun would be good for it because it would probably be fairly weak light.
      Good luck.
      Judith

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