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How to Plant a Hydrangea Plant Outdoors

red hydrangea flower image by thea walstra from

Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is a medium growing, decidious and round-shaped flowering shrub native to Korea and Japan. It can grow to between 3 to 8 feet tall, depending on the variety. Hydrangeas produce striking globe-shaped, 8- to 10-inch wide flowers that range in color from pink, rose, blue or white, depending on the pH of the soil. Plant hydrangeas well away from other shrubs so they will have ample room to grow.

Plant hydrangea in partial shade in hotter, southern climates and in full sun in cooler, northern climates. Plant the hydrangea where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade if you aren't sure of your climate conditions.

Turn over a 2-foot wide by 2-foot deep section of the soil in the planting area. Remove any objects, such as rocks, dirt clods, roots or sticks, from the area.

Mix into the soil 1 to 1-1/2 cubic feet of pine bark, coarse sand or perlite if the soil is clay-like. Apply 1/2 cubic feet of aged manure or dehydrated compost if the soil is sandy or light. Mix in 1 cubic foot of sphagnum peat moss or leaf mold to improve fertility if the soil drains well.

Dig a planting hole for the hydrangea that is 14 inches wide by 16 inches deep if the hydrangea is planted from a 6-inch wide or 1-gallon pot. Dig a 16-inch wide by 18-inch deep hole for plants from 5-gallon pots.

Cut along the sides of the planting pot, beginning at a drain hole, all the way up to the rim of the container, using a pair of snips. Do this at every drain hole until the plastic can be removed from the hydrangea's growing container.

Wash off approximately 1-inch of soil from all around the root system. Loosen any matter or encircled roots from the root system using your fingers.

Place the hydrangea into the planting hole. Adjust the plant, if necessary, to keep it vertical in the planting hole. Make sure the top of the hydrangea's root system is sitting at the same height, or slightly above (1 to 1-1/2 inches) to the surrounding top soil. Scoop in soil to set the hydrangea in its planting hole.

Pour 3 to 4 gallons of water into the planting hole. Fill the planting hole full with soil as soon as the water has settled.


Plan on planting the hydrangea in early summer through fall.

Water the hydrangea as soon as the soil at a depth of 1 to 2 inches feels dry to the touch. If in doubt, provide moisture when rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.

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