Growing Hydrangeas in Pots

Try your hand at growing hydrangeas in containers. Learn what you need to know to succeed.

Front garden with standard box, urn with hydrangea, Ligustrum delavayanum standards

By: Julie A Martens

Botanical Names: big leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), panicle hydrangea (Hydrangeapaniculata)

Dress up your outdoor spaces with the special beauty of hydrangeas in pots. These flowering shrubs are celebrated for their large, colorful blossoms, which easily steal the spotlight when tucked into containers. Discover which details make the difference when you’re growing hydrangeas in pots.

The greatest challenge to growing hydrangeas in pots is providing sufficient water. You can address this issue in several ways. Start by choosing big pots. Look for containers with a minimum size of 18 to 20 inches across. This size provides enough soil to give roots room tospread and to keep you from having to water multiple times a day.

It’s also important to select the right site when growing hydrangeas in pots. Choose a spot for your hydrangea pots that receives morning sun and afternoon shade in all climates. Protecting plants from hot afternoon sun readily reduces the amount of water plants need to thrive. Even so, it’s important to check soil daily for moistness as summer heat builds and plants grow larger.

On the whole, hydrangeas in pots need watering more often than their counterparts with roots tucked into planting beds. One way to reduce the time you spend watering is to place your containers on top of soil, like in a planting bed. Add a little mulch around the base of the pot, andwhen you water the pot, dribble some water around the base of the pot. Eventually roots willshift from the pot into the soil in the planting bed. As the hydrangea becomes more deeply rootedin the planting bed, it will need watering less often.

Growing hydrangeas in pots tucked into planting beds works best in warmer regions where plants can stay in pots outdoors year-round. In colder regions, you’ll have to lift pots, clip roots beneath the pot, and shift the container into a protected location for the winter.

When growing hydrangeas in pots, focus on smaller varieties that fit neatly into the small confines of a container. Good candidates include French hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) ‘Mini Penny’, which grows to 48 inches tall and has blue or pink blooms, and ‘Buttons ‘n Bows’, which also reaches 48 inches tall and opens white-edged flowers that shift from pale green to pink.

Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) offers several hybrids adapted to containers. One of the shortest is ‘Bombshell,’ which tops out at 2 to 3 feet and opens white flowers with pink centers. Coming in at 3 to 4 feet tall, Bobo hydrangea (‘Ilvobo’) offers huge white bloom clusters all summer long. ‘Little Lime’ grows 3 to 6 feet tall and sparkles with green flowers that turn pink.

When planting hydrangeas in pots, be sure to use soil developed for use in containers. Mix in a shovel or two of compost to enhance the soil’s water retaining abilities. Avoid filling containers with traditional garden soil, which provides a too-heavy root environment.

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