How to Propagate Hydrangeas

Overview

Propagating shrubs from your own or a neighbor's yard is an easy way to create new plants. Collecting seed pods as they dry and taking cuttings from the branches are only two of the ways new shrubs may be created from mature plants. The Hydrangea (Hydrangea sp.) is not only easy to grow; it is on the easiest-to-root list for most home gardeners.

Cuttings

Step 1

Combine ½ general-use potting soil with ¼ sand and ¼ vermiculite, mix well. Scoop mix into sterile flowerpots or other containers. Water soil well and set aside to drain while you prepare the cuttings.

Step 2

Take 6 to 8 inch cuttings from a mature Hydrangea shrub in the late spring or early to mid summer. These may be softwood or hardwood cuttings. Cut at a slight angle. Trim away all but the top three leaves. Locate the bottom nodes on the cutting, with a gentle touch; scrape around that area with pruning knife. Wounding the cutting will allow it to root more quickly.

Step 3

Make a hole in the soil about 3 inches deep. Dip the cutting in water and then into the rooting hormone. Place cutting into soil. Press and firm the soil around cutting to remove all air pockets.

Step 4

Place the dead branches in soil at the edge of pots so that they are taller than the cuttings by 2 to 4 inches. Cut a large enough piece of plastic to cover pot and secure with rubber band or garden twine at bottom. Poke a few holes in the plastic. Check cuttings daily for moisture. Spray with fine mist of water from sterile spray bottle as needed.

Step 5

Place pots in warm spot that receives indirect light. Roots will appear in 2 to 3 weeks. Remove plastic tent and place in location that is sunny with shade in the hottest part of the day until ready to transplant. Transplant into larger pot when roots begin to fill up the small pot and leave in larger pot until the following spring.

Layering

Step 1

Locate a Hydrangea that is bushy at the bottom of plant. Dig a trench under the plant for each new shrub that you would like to propagate. Make certain the trench is between 3 and 5 inches deep for best results

Step 2

Pull a limb down from shrub; remove leaves from all but the top of the limb. This will be an area between 6 and 8 inches along limb. Using pruning knife, gently scrape limb, the same as scraping cutting above. Lower limb into trench and cover with soil. Set brick on soil over limb and water well.

Step 3

Check often for dry soil. Do not allow to dry out. When roots form, cut away from mother plant but leave in soil for a few more days. When new plant begins to put on new growth, dig and place in pot until the following spring.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear a sun hat and gloves when working in the garden. Wear protective eye covering while taking cuttings from bushes.

Things You'll Need

  • Flower pots 4-6 inches deep
  • General-use potting soil mix
  • Coarse sand
  • Vermiculite
  • Mature Hydrangea shrub(s)
  • Pruning shears/knife
  • Rooting hormone (powder)
  • Sterile spray bottle
  • Small, dead branches 8 to 12 inches long
  • Clear plastic wrap large enough to cover container
  • Rubber band or garden twine
  • Brick/Medium-weight stone

References

  • "American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques;" Alan Toogood, Editor; American Horticultural Society; 1999

Who Can Help

  • Joy Creek Nursery
  • Wayside Gardens
Keywords: how to propagate hydrangeas, hydrangea cuttings, layering hydrangeas

About this Author

Nora Grace is a freelance writer covering the topics of gardening, travel and family issues. Grace has published more than one hundred articles on garden and general interest websites across the Internet since 2007. Web writing credits include feature stories for Suite101, articles for Dave's Garden, Orato and BellaOnline.