Tons of Fun Growing Hydrangeas in Pots

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.


11 Responses to “Tons of Fun Growing Hydrangeas in Pots”

  1. Susan Mathis Says:

    Thank you! thank you! thank you!

    I have planted a new Hydrangea each spring for 9 years and they never make it… I litterly cry each year… 😦 I just love these plants and can’t wait to grow one… I have Hope now…

    Last years plant has several little baby leaves… I sure am praying this is the year one makes it…

    Also you will not believe this but TODAY a neighbor dug up her hydrangea to plant carpet roses in it’s place… The plant has a root ball of over 2 ft by 2 ft… she gave it to ME! I was jumping up and down for joy! This guy was so heavy I had to haul him in a wheel barrel!

    Please pray I do all the right things to keep this AMAZING plant alive…
    I think I made my first mistake… I read your post and it said NOT to plant it under an oak tree 😦 This is the only place in my yard that I have good luck with plants so of course I planted it there…

    The spot does get morning sun and afternoon shade and it is in a raised bed but I bet I need to move it … only where?

    The spot I have been trying for 9 years gets morning sun and afternoon shade??? Gosh bummer what could I be doing wrong…

    Thanks again for this wonderful sight… 🙂

    I dream of being 71 and still getting to play in the dirt – I dream of passing this LOVE of God’s beauty in plants to grandchildren some day.

    I was resently diagnosed with a weak heart but I just say – “God is growing 🙂 it stronger every day!

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      You have the true heart of a successful gardener – you care deeply about your plants. Since you have a raised bed under the oak tree, and since other things have grown well in this location, this may be a fine place for the hydrangea. The two reasons hydrangeas may not succeed under trees are (1) lack of moisture, and (2) lack of light. If your planting area has plenty of moisture despite the hungry roots of the Oak tree, and there is enough light to grow other healthy plants, then you probably have a good location.

      If you are losing plants in a spot that seems to have perfect light, consider the moisture. More plants are lost to too much water than any other factor, in my experience. Too little water is probably the second reason for losing a plant. So it is very important to address the issue of moisture when trying to determine a problem. The way to water is very deeply, but infrequently. When the soil is dry on top (down to about an inch) it is time to water deeply again.

      Best of luck and
      Happy Hydrangeas,
      Judith King

  2. Cecilia Says:

    Hi, I was so interested to read about Martha who grows her hydrangeas in pots. I planted my three hydrangea plants in pots two years ago and not once have they flowered. They are all in a sunny spot and I change the soil every year and trim the plants in Spring. I have had no luck whatsoever. My daughter who also has hydrangeas in pots has them blooming every year. I wonder what I am doing wrong. My plants are in plastic pots – big ones. Can anyone help me?

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Cecilia, One of the comments in your description of your hydrangeas caught my eye. You said that you “trim the plants in the Spring.” While there can be other possible reasons why your hydrangeas do not bloom, trimming or pruning at the wrong time is the most likely problem. If you’d like to read about the best time and way to prune hydrangeas, please read about pruning on my site at: . The most important point of this information for you is that hydrangeas should not be pruned after July. They should only be pruned right after they bloom, but before August. Sometimes this will mean that the blooms will still be on the plant and will have to be removed early. Another option (and one I recommend) is to leave your hydrangeas untouched for at least two years and see if the pruning (“trimming”) was the problem. If you want to remove the dead blooms later on, you can cut them off just below the bloom, but do not remove any buds below the bloom. The buds may be the blooms for the next summer. Even if your daughter prunes in the spring and still has blooms, this does not mean that your particular hydrangeas will work the same way (unless you took cuttings from her plants). I hope this helps. – Judith

  3. anne' Says:

    I love your passion for gardening!! What climate do u suppose is suitable for hydrangeas? Plz advise n how often shud I water them, I live in Durban South Africa!!

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your question. I have a friend with a condominum in South Africa, and she tells me there are fields of hydrangeas in some areas. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar enough with SA to know what the climate and growing conditions are in different areas. But unless your conditions are a lot different than other parts of your country, I’d guess that hydrangeas would grow well there. I know it can get hot, so you definitely want to plant them in the shade. It would be OK for them to receive a couple hours of sun in the morning. Water them when the soil feels dry on top. If your soil is sandy, this would be quite often in hot weather. If your soil is heavy, with more clay, then you would water about once a week if you had no rain. Good luck. I hope you are able to grow them very well. – Judith

      • anne' Says:

        ‘thanx a miLlion for replying to my email,u r fantastic!! just 1 question can hydrageas grow by slips or they must have roots to be transplanted? thank you and a happy new year to n godbless you!!

  4. Bill H Says:

    Hello, I see a lot about clipping blooms for indoor display. My question is: Should old blooms that are fading in an Endless Summer Hyd plant be clipped off to allow for new buds to form? I know they bloom on new wood, so what happens to blooms that are now fading? Too much sun perhaps? North east exposure.
    Bill – Richmond, VA

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      You will know your hydrangea is getting too much sun if the blooms wilt dramatically every day. If they only wilt a little on very hot days, they are probably OK. I’m not sure what you mean by “fading.” This could be the natural progression of old blooms, or it could be an early demise from too much sun. In any event, if you want to cut them for arrangements, you can cut long stems on any of the blooms until August 1. After this, the blooms should be removed without much stem in case the buds for next spring are forming close to the large leaves toward the top of the stem. You can attach another old stem to the short one and put the blooms in a basket so the stem doesn’t show. (usually by August, the hydrangeas will hold up without water). Good luck – Judith

  5. Trisha Says:

    I got a nice flowered stem from alot of different hydrangeas today.I trimmed off only a couple of leaves on each cutting and left the flower on it and put stem in root hormone and put each cutting in a nice size pot will they grow even though i left the beautiful healthy flower on it ?

    • hydrangeashoh Says:

      Trisha, more than likely the stems will not root, but it is not impossible. Occasionally a flowering stem will even root in water. But what you want is for the stem to put its energies into producing roots. With the bloom still on the stem, it will “concentrate” on keeping the bloom well-hydrated and nourished. You may have already seen it, but here is a page on my site that deals with rooting hydrangea cuttings. If you don’t wish to cut off the blooms, you might try adding a plastic tent around the whole setup. Make sure it does not get sun with plastic around it. Good luck! Judith

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