Archive for March, 2009

Tons of Fun Growing Hydrangeas in Pots

March 15, 2009

Potted Hydrangeas: Picture by Valerie Paints of England

Potted Hydrangeas: Picture by Valerie Paints of England


In the previous post I wrote about growing hydrangeas in pots and posted two pictures of hydrangeas grown by Martha of Alabama [The picture above was sent to me by another gardener]. This week I received an email from, Martha. She added a lot of interesting information that I wanted to share with you. In addition, her method for propagating hydrangeas is a bit unusual, and sounds like a lot of fun!

BTW, she said that the blue mophead had 64 blooms on it last year. I’ve never heard of a potted hydrangea blooming so profusely. That’s encouraging for people who want to grow hydrangeas in pots. 

Here’s what she says:


“Hi Judith,


My friends and I have had so much fun today with your web page and blog. I thought this additional information might help.”


“I went out and measured my pots.” [Referring to the two pictures in the previous post, Martha says that she] “planted the Annabelle hydrangea in a clay pot 17” in diameter x 14” high, and the blue mophead in a pot 18” in diameter x 14” high. They have never been out of those pots. Hydrangeas grown in pots like to be fairly rootbound.”


“Every year, with the soil dry, my husband and I turn the hydrangeas in their pots on their side, slide them out, and take the babies from around the edge. Then I trim about 2” off the roots [of the mother plant] if they are matted together and put new soil in the pot before returning the large hydrangea to the pot. The new babies (which are about 16” tall) are planted in pots about 12” in diameter. These babies should bloom the next year (one bloom – usually large).”


[In describing her unorthodox but obviously successful method of rooting cuttings, Martha says] “My rooting pot is 12″ in diameter and 24″ deep. I use root-tone. My cuttings are about 24″ long, and I put at least half of the cutting down into the soil (it roots at several nodes)…about 3 – 5 cuttings to a pot. The cuttings will grow this summer and bloom one bloom (usually large) on each cutting. Next summer you will have a beautiful new pot of blooms. I have so much fun with this…..BUT I am not an expert….just a 71 year old that still likes to play in the dirt.”


“Happy potting, M”


Martha also mentioned that her husband has installed a drip system from Home Depot to make the watering easier. I think this is one of the secrets to her success of growing hydrangeas in relatively small pots. The system comes on two times a day for 30 minutes.


Growing Hydrangeas in Pots

March 13, 2009
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



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,



All About Hydrangeas

A Flower for All Seasons




My Hydrangeas Were Cut to the Ground!

March 8, 2009

Husband pruning the shrubs


My dear husband thought he was being helpful and cut 2 of my mophead hydrangeas down to the base of the stems. None of them were dead and all had buds on them. He did this the first of February. Will they ever bloom again?

Thanks so much!


Hi Bambie,

I’m so sorry your hydrangeas were cut to the ground. Believe me, there is a whole army of “guilty” men out there who love to neaten things up in the landscape. You have a lot of company.

Although it is very unlikely that your hydrangea will bloom this year, it will bloom in future years (if it has bloomed in the past). You will be amazed how quickly it will grow back to its former size. I wouldn’t be surprised if it reaches its previous size by the end of the summer.

As they say in football…. There’s always next year.

Best of luck,

All About Hydrangeas
A Flower for All Seasons

Do Deer Eat Hydrangeas?

March 8, 2009

Marilyn writes:
Hi – I just saw your web site on Hydrangeas, and it is wonderful! Do you know if deer like hydrangeas? I have a terrible problem with deer eating everything I plant.

Thanks for your help.




Unfortunately, deer love young hydrangeas. They also like new leaves on older plants. However, the older plants usually survive the damage even if they don’t bloom that year. If you are having problems with newly planted hydrangeas, it might help to plant larger hydrangeas and protect them with wire cages the first few weeks they are in the ground. It seems to me that deer are most active in the spring, but others may challenge that idea.

On the other hand, deer can be pretty non-selective if they get hungry enough (as I’m sure you know). I worked for a garden center for years and heard all the stories about tricks people used to try to keep the deer from eating their plants. The only one I ever heard that really worked was an electric fence – a little too expensive for most of us.

Naomi, a visitor to my site, said that spraying Deer-Off had worked for her with hydrangeas. Sometimes these sprays work for a short time, and then the deer get used to it, and ignore it. So I don’t know if it was a permanent fix or just short term.



If someone could really invent a strong deer repellent, they would be wealthy.

A flower for all seasons

Please leave your comments if you’ve had experience repelling deer.

My White Hydrangeas Won’t Stay White

March 7, 2009
Same white hydrangea: fresh vs two weeks later

Same white hydrangea: fresh vs two weeks later

I received a question from a visitor to my site. She said:

“I just purchased a white hydrangea – it is blooming now in the pot from the store.  I know that some hydrangeas can be fertilized to be blue or pink,  but I’d like to keep this one white. One bloom has the faintest pink edge but all the others are white or cream.

 I would appreciate your advice. Thank you very much.” – Elizabeth


 There is really very little we can do to keep white hydrangea blooms white. The normal aging cycle for the blooms usually involved a change of color. Annabelle hydraneas are green when they first bloom, then they turn white, and back to green again; PeeGee hydrangeas open white then gradually turn pink; white mopheads (macrophyllas) (which is probably what you have) often fade to a very light blue or light pink as the blooms age and then, even later, they pick up shades of burgundy. Some gardeners love this color change. 


Keeping hydrangeas healthy increases the time that the blooms stay at their peak (and the color fresh). Blooms that receive too much hot sun often age faster than those with protection during the hottest part of the day. But fertilizer or other additives won’t cause the blooms to stay white for a longer time. 


If you are interested in knowing more about color change in hydrangeas, check out this page on my site:




All About Hydrangeas
A Flower for All Seasons

Everblooming Hydrangeas

March 6, 2009

In the past, most hydrangeas would only set bloom buds in the fall. In June the buds flower. If anything happened to these bloom buds during the fall or winter (e.g. they were pruned off or a freeze-snap killed them), these hydrangeas would not set new blooms.

Endless Summer

Endless Summer

Now things are much different. Hydrangeas that would set bloom buds again and again began coming on the market in about 2004 . If the first set of buds was killed or pruned off, another set of buds would grow and bloom that same season. Hydrangeas that set more than once during the same season are referred to as “remontant.” Nurseries selling these hydrangeas often call them “everblooming.”

‘Endless Summer’ was the first hydrangea to be sold as an everbloomer. Latter, two other hydrangeas were added to this Endless Summer Series: ‘Blushing Bride’ and ‘Twist and Shout’ (a pink lacecap).

Other hydrangeas that are extremely similar to ‘Endless Summer’ in everblooming ability as well as in appearance are ‘Penny Mac’, ‘David Ramsey’, ‘Oak Hill’, and ‘Decator Blue.’

Several other hydrangeas have claimed to be reblooming, but they have not established a reputation of being so yet. After the summer of 2009 it is hoped (by me, anyway) that they may have proved themselves as rebloomers. These include: ‘Forever and Ever,’ Forever and Ever Double Pink,’ ‘Forever and Ever Red,’ and ”Forever and Ever Peppermint.’

Forever and Ever

Forever and Ever



For a list of online mail-order sellers of these and other hydrangeas, visit my site at:

The Best Year Ever for Hydrangeas

March 4, 2009

While I can’t say how well hydrangeas will bloom in YOUR area this year (a lot depends on the weather) I do know that there has never been a better year to buy hydrangeas that WILL bloom well, even under adverse conditions. Sellers are calling these hydrangeas EVERBLOOMING hydrangeas [The botanical term is remontant hydrangeas].

Endless Summer, Photo by Millie McAaw

If you plan to grow a number of hydrangeas in your garden or landscape, you will definitely want to plant a few that are known to bloom even if you live in an area that is too cold for old timey hydrangeas. And if a prune-happy husband or gardener trims your hydrangeas at the wrong time (sorry, guys, but it always seems to be a man who does this), these everblooming hydrangeas should bloom anyway!

Tomorrow I’ll post a list of hydrangeas purported to be everblooming.