Planting & Transplanting Hydrangeas – The Complete Guide
Whether you’re planting a hydrangea in the garden or transferring a hydrangea from a pot to a planter, timing is important and can influence the health and viability of your hydrangea plants.
There are plenty of reasons why you may need to transfer a hydrangea and lack of space or lack of adequate sun exposure are the most common reasons.
I’m going to discuss the best time to plant a hydrangea outside when to transplant hydrangeas and choosing the best location for these plants.
Best Time to Plant Hydrangeas Outside
If you’re bringing home a hydrangea from a garden center and want to plant it outside, or you have an indoor hydrangea you want to plant in your garden, the correct timing of the planting makes a whole lot of difference.
Plant at the wrong time and you risk exposing your hydrangea to frost damage, loss of buds, loss of blooms or leaves caused by transplant shock.
Assuming that your hydrangea is otherwise hardy in your area, the best time to plant it outside in the garden is in mid-spring or early summer.
Spring can be tricky, because late frosts may set in, so planting in early summer guarantees the survivability of young hydrangeas.
You can also plant hydrangeas in the in fall (preferably early fall) but avoid planting during the hottest parts of the summer. Since hydrangeas require moist soil, it will be difficult to keep them happy in the heat of the summer.
Choosing the Location for Hydrangeas
When planting hydrangeas outdoors, location is another thing you must consider. Avoid heavy shade for all hydrangeas and choose locations that receive morning sun and afternoon shade.
In cooler locations, you can plant hydrangeas even in full sun. In fact, the further up north one lives, the more sun hydrangeas need to thrive.
Don’t plant hydrangeas under trees. There are at least two reasons for this. First, if the tree has a thick canopy, it blocks essential light from reaching the plant, causing blooming issues and plant development issues.
The second reason is that the roots of the tree can grow aggressively and take away the rich nutrients needed for hydrangeas. Even if you remove some of the roots of the tree, they’ll grow back next year.
A further aspect to consider is how well the soil drains in the location you’re planning on planting your hydrangeas. If it’s a spot in your garden where water sits for too long and drains slowly, consider a different location.
Moist soil is fine for hydrangeas, but wet soil isn’t. Wet soil will cause the roots to start rooting, killing off your hydrangeas.
Best Time for Transplanting Hydrangeas
If you’re transplanting hydrangeas from one location in your garden to another or from one pot to a larger one, it’s good to consider the ideal timing of these activities.
If your hydrangea is in a pot and you want to transplant it to a larger pot or planter, you should transplant it in early spring, just before the plant starts to come out of it’s dormancy and shoots new growths.
So, if you’re moving your hydrangea from one location to another in your garden, there are two approaches to transplanting:
- Transplant in fall, before the first frost sets in, but after the plant enters dormancy
- Transplant any time after the leaves and blooms fall off if winters aren’t cold in your area
This dormancy period is the ideal time to transplant hydrangeas because you’re not interfering much with the plant’s metabolism and you’re not shocking the plant as much as you would in spring or summer.
As I will explain later in this article, you can transplant hydrangeas even outside the dormancy period, but not without risks.
How to Transplant Hydrangea Plants?
Transplanting hydrangeas plants from one location in your garden to another usually involves the following steps:
- Start by digging a hole in the location where you want to transplant your hydrangea
- Dig out your hydrangea making sure to get as much as the root ball as possible (dig in a circle around the hydrangea)
- Move the hydrangea to the new location (you may need help with this if your hydrangea shrub is large)
- Water deeply once if you’re transplanting a dormant hydrangea, resume normal watering in spring.
- Keep your hydrangea well-watered during the first two seasons after transplanting
The reason you want to start by digging a hole at the transplant site is to expedite the transfer and avoid your hydrangea sitting for too long with its roots exposed.
It can be difficult to dig out a relatively established hydrangea and the whole plant can also be heavy, so you may need an extra pair of hands to move the plant to its new location.
Can You Transplant Hydrangeas in Summer?
You can also transplant hydrangeas in spring or summer, except when temperatures are too high in the summer or there’s a heatwave.
Be advised that a hydrangea that’s in bloom may have it’s blooms fall off from transplant shock. Leaves and buds can also be affected.
When transplanting during spring or summer, carry out the transplant in the morning to reduce any adverse effects of the summer heat on your plant.
To minimize the shock of the transplant, try to move as much of the soil around the root ball with the plant and water your hydrangea deeply after transplanting.
Therefore, you can transplant hydrangeas in summer if need be; however, it’s much less stressful on the plant to have it transplanted in the fall or in early spring.
Hydrangeas enjoy sunny spots or semi-shade and thrive in moist, well-draining soil. If there’s a need to transplant your hydrangea or move it from a pot to the garden, ideally, you should time these transfers so the shock to the plant is minimal.
When the plant is dormant, you can move it with the least amount of stress, but you can also plant or transplant in spring, fall and summer if it isn’t too hot, being mindful of potential loss of blooms.