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How to Transplant Hydrangea Plants

By Contributing Writer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Hydrangeas are wonderful old-fashioned plants that thrive in almost any garden. However, they are often planted in the wrong location. With too much sun, the leaves may wilt and flowers will become discolored; too little sun and you get leggy growth and few flowers. Transplant hydrangeas after they have gone dormant in the fall. Prepare the new planting location before digging up the hydrangea by digging the hole and amending the soil (changing the pH, adding nutrients or organic matter).

Transplant hydrangeas after they have gone dormant. In most parts of the United States this will be in mid to late fall or early winter. You can transplant your hydrangea as long as the ground is not frozen.

Choose an overcast day for transplanting the hydrangea where nighttime temperatures will not fall below freezing

Prune the hydrangea as usual. Remove broken branches and diseased wood at this time. If you are not concerned about flowers the following year, you can reduce the hydrangea by 1/3.

Wrap hydrangeas three years old and older with burlap. Start at the bottom, using the burlap to gently pull the branches up. Secure the burlap with twine. Use a permanent marker to mark the burlap on the side of the shrub that faces north. If you are not wrapping your hydrangea, tie a piece of fabric to a branch on the north side of the hydrangea.

Dig a trench around the hydrangea, 2 to 3 feet from the center of the shrub. Dig straight down around 15 to 24 inches.

Undercut the hydrangea by angling the shovel 45 degrees and making 4 or 5 deep cuts under the hydrangea.

Use the garden fork to gently loosen and begin lifting the hydrangea. If your hydrangea is hard to lift, make several more undercuts. If the hydrangea is still hard to lift, use the pruning saw to sever long roots.

Gently remove the hydrangea from the hole. Prune off broken roots 2 to 3 inches above the break. Use a wheelbarrow or tarp to move your hydrangea to its new home.

Plant the hydrangea at the same depth it was growing at in its former location. Orient the hydrangea so the side that was facing north is still facing north. Remove the burlap after planting.

Water your hydrangea deeply after planting and do not fertilize until the following summer. Use 3 to 5 inches of mulch around the base of the hydrangea for weed control and to keep the soil moist.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Burlap
  • Twine
  • Permanent marker
  • Shovel
  • Garden fork
  • Pruning saw
  • Pry bar
  • Wheelbarrow or tarp
  • Mulch

Tips

  • If the hydrangea is thriving in its currant location, try to replicate the same conditions (soil type, sunlight) in its new location.
  • If you have a hydrangea with sentimental value, take cuttings for rooting before moving the hydrangea to ensure you will have some part of the plant that survives if the transplant does not take.
  • Hydrangeas thrive where they receive morning sun and afternoon shade especially in southern gardens.
  • If the ground is hard, but not frozen, water your hydrangea 2 to 3 days before transplanting to soften the soil.
  • If you need to store your hydrangea for several days before replanting; wrap the root ball with moistened burlap and place in a spot out of direct sunlight and wind.

Warnings

  • Do not transplant hydrangeas in early spring. If you do, the hydrangea will take longer to recover, to begin producing new growth and may not flower for several years.
  • A tearing sound while removing the root ball means that you are damaging roots. Stop, use a pruning saw or sharp shovel to sever the root cleanly, then continue removing the root ball.