How to Grow Hydrangeas at Home: Complete Guide

Translated by Nick R

Among the most popular and prized plants, we find hydrangeas. You’ll see that they are very hardy and adapt smoothly to different areas, thus, with little care, they’ll yield beautiful flowers that you can display in your garden, a pot inside your home, or even a bouquet or vase.

Therefore, today we’ll talk about the characteristics of hydrangeas, the steps to grow them, and their care. Finally, we’ll end with 5 varieties of hydrangeas that you’ll surely love.

Characteristics of hydrangeas 

Hydrangeas are ornamental plants native to Asia and America. They are part of the genus Hydrangea, which includes more than 90 species and hundreds of varieties of shrubby plants and a few climbers.

They can be deciduous, meaning they lose all their leaves at certain times every year, such as fall and winter, and then renew them. Or they can be evergreen, so their leaves gradually renew throughout the year. They usually reach a height of 1 – 2 m ( 4 – 6 ft).

Their flowers come in colors: namely, pink, blue, violet, white, and others. However, the color of the flowers depends entirely on the pH of the soil. That is, in relatively acid soils, with pH between 4.5 and 5, the flowers are blue, while in more alkaline soils, with pH between 6 and 6.5, they take on a pink color. Finally, in alkaline soils with pH around 8, they grow white.

The color of the flowers can also be modified by adding certain fertilizers to the soil, except for white flowers that don’t change color.

Similarly, we find diverse sizes. For example, bushy hydrangeas usually reach a height of 1 to 2 meters thanks to their aerial roots and achieve a great extension, although there are some dwarfs and climbers.

Steps to grow hydrangeas 

To continue, we’ll see the methods to reproduce hydrangeas, the necessary steps for planting and the estimated time for harvesting.

1. Reproduction of hydrangeas 

We can highlight 3 main methods of reproduction:


It’s the most common and recommended option. You can use herbaceous or woody and semi-woody cuttings, although the first ones have a faster rooting since they sprout new roots very easily.

What you should do is to take a stem from the tip, between 8 to 15 cm (5 to 6 in.) long and with 1 to 3 nodes or points from where the leaves come out. To finish by removing the leaves.


A procedure applied to those species with long and flexible branches, such as Hydrangea paniculata and H. quercifolia. It consists of taking a young branch from the ends, bending it slightly downwards to place it on the ground, and then covering it with soil to anchor it.

The tip of the branch would be allowed to protrude without detaching its stem from the mother plant. As shown in the image below.

Taken from the book Las hortensias – Multiplication by layering


A less used method as it requires more time for growth and is even used to produce new varieties. You can get them in garden stores or nurseries.

2. Hydrangea Planting Process 

The best time to plant hydrangeas is in late spring or fall to avoid at all costs periods of drought, frost or strong winds.


Cuttings should be planted in pots with a well-drained and moist substrate. To encourage rooting, you can use homemade rooting products, and within 3 to 4 weeks, the stem will have developed a good number of roots that will allow it to grow healthy and strong.

You can also plant the cutting directly in the garden soil, but keep in mind that humidity plays a fundamental role during stem rooting. Therefore, if you live in freezing areas or it’s frost season, it’s best to start planting in pots and transplant when necessary.


That said, in case you need to transplant or you’re going to plant a seedling you bought, what you should do is dig a hole twice the width and depth of the root ball.

You can add some well-ripened compost as a base to provide more nutrients to the soil and then place the seedling and fill it up around with soil. Finally, you should water deeply so that the substrate settles, and you can check whether you need to add a little more.


On the other hand, if you want to start the planting process from seeds, do it in seedbeds. Otherwise, perform the plantation directly in a pot or in the spot the crop will grow to avoid further transplanting.

So, place 1 or 2 seeds, cover them lightly with soil and water gently but steadily. This way, you’ll keep humidity, and, from 10 to 15 days, germination will have occurred.

3. Harvesting hydrangeas 

The flowering season varies according to the species but occurs between spring and summer. Strictly, they usually bloom 10 to 12 months after sowing, thus only once a year.

If you want to know how to cut flowers in order to show them off in a vase or give them as a gift, the first thing to do is choose flower stems that are robust enough to hold their heavy heads in the container.

Then, cut the flowers with a pair of pruning shears or a sharp, previously sanitized knife.

Place the stems directly into the clean cool water. Sometime later, when you see that the flowers are wilting, that is, they begin to hang, it’s advisable to cut a part of the bottom of the stem to facilitate water absorption. Also, let them stand for at least 1 hour in warm water, and you’ll see how they return to be splendid.

How to care for hydrangeas 

Now that you know how to start planting these beautiful plants, we’ll explain the basics of how to care for them.

Type of soil 

Hydrangeas can adapt with no problem to different kinds of soil, but we suggest medium light, well-drained soils with a pH between 5 and 6.5.

Anyway, remember that you can modify the texture of the soil by using different types of substrates. For example, if the soil is too light and sandy, you can enrich it with peat and compost. While, if it’s heavy and clayey, the best would be to use perlite or vermiculite.


Place your hydrangeas in a semi-shaded area; it’s the perfect mid-point to encourage flowering. However, some varieties are more resistant to extreme temperatures. One of these is Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, which can be exposed to direct sunlight, although it will need constant watering.

In general, these plants enjoy mild temperatures. So, if where you live there are heavy climate changes or seasonal influences, it’s best to plant them in pots so that you can move them indoors in winter or place them in the shade in hot summers.

Finally, the optimum temperature is between 10 and 15° C (50 and 59° F), and in winter, it shouldn’t drop below 7°C (45° F).


As we have already mentioned, hydrangeas need a humid environment, which is where watering plays a fundamental role. So, since these plants have high water requirements, using mulch would be the key to keep the soil moist for longer.

Of course, when using this type of protective layer, irrigation should be deep, without puddling, and less constant. In addition, to maintain air moisture, you should spray water on the leaves and flowers.

Now, once winter arrives, the frequency of watering will be reduced.


For best results, you need to pay attention to the fertilizer’s components. This is because, as we mentioned at the beginning, soil conditions can alter the flowers’ coloration.

Therefore, for the flowers to have a pinkish hue, the fertilizer should be rich in nitrogen and phosphorus but low in potassium. Whereas, for achieving blue flowers, the fertilizer should have more potassium and very little nitrogen and phosphorus.

Pests and diseases 

Since these plants grow a large number of leaves to cover the stems, they are likely to harbor pests such as mealybugs, aphids, caterpillars, and mites, like the red spider mite.

On the other hand, they can also present diseases such as gray mold, powdery mildew, rust, and rot in general. Keep in mind that the arrival of these bacteria and fungi is caused by errors in cultivation. For example, having a very heavy and poorly drained substrate or excessive watering with puddles.

However, there is nothing to fear! No pest or disease is invincible, but it’s always best to detect them in time and take action. Thus, we recommend our blog on homemade insecticides and another one on the use of neem oil and potassium soap: 2 organic products that, together, work wonderfully.

5 varieties of hydrangeas that you’ll love 

Finally, we want to share with you 5 different species of hydrangeas so you can appreciate their beauty and appreciate the variety offered by them.

Annabelle Hydrangea

(Hydrangea arborescens)

Native to the Eastern United States, this is a deciduous flowering shrub that can reach 5 feet tall.

It flowers abundantly in white or greenish hues from summer to mid-fall. That’s why it’s good to prune it intensively at the end of winter to encourage branching and, thus, flowering.

The flower heads are very compact and somewhat so heavy that they can even collapse their branches. They are usually 25 to 30 cm wide and have a very subtle fragrance. It’s one of the favorite plants to decorate gardens.

Climbing hydrangea 

(Hydrangea petiolaris)

As its name suggests, this is a deciduous climbing variety that can reach up to 50 feet high. Of course, if it has no support on which to extend, it would grow in a messy bushy form.

Its growth is slower compared to other species and it produces leafy, flattened, white flowers in the spring. In addition, the flowers have a pleasant citrus scent and change to a golden hue before dropping in fall.

Oakleaf hydrangea 

(Hydrangea quercifolia)

It’s a deciduous shrubby plant native to the United States. This and Hydrangea paniculata are the only hydrangeas with cone-shaped flower clusters. It also comes in white or cream but takes on beautiful red, orange and purple hues in the fall.

It doesn’t need to be pruned constantly as it blooms on old branches, although you can do so only for shaping in late winter or early spring. Its flowering season is in the summer and can reach 2 m (6 ft.) tall x 2.5 m (8 ft.) wide.

Velvet hydrangea 

(Hydrangea aspera)

It’s a leafy plant that can reach 3 m (10 ft) high and spread. It has rather flattened flowers that can be blue, lilac, pink and white. It’s native to the Himalayas, southern China.

If you want to prune it, you can do it at the end of winter by removing the old flower heads. It’s not very resistant to frost, but if kept under the right factors, it can achieve a life span of up to 100 years. Incredible!

Mountain hydrangea 

(Hydrangea serrata)

Native to Japan, this is a deciduous shrub that can reach 1.2 m (4 ft) tall. Some of the best-known varieties are “Preziosa” and “Blue Bird”, which we can see in the picture.

It flowers in white, blue, and pink tones from early summer to late summer or early autumn. However, they can change color 3 to 4 times per season, although let’s remember that this change depends closely on the soil pH level.

So, strongly acidic soils yield blue flowers, while those that are slightly acidic will produce pink flowers.


Now that we reached the end of this guide on hydrangeas, we hope that you have learned everything you need to know about growing and caring for these gorgeous flowers and that you have also met different varieties from the traditional ones.

As you may have noticed, it’s really not a very demanding plant, and it’ll fill your garden or home with life. Therefore, we encourage you to include this beautiful plant in your collection and enjoy its beautiful colors throughout the year.