Tips for rooting hydrangeas

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Are you looking to add some vibrancy and life to your garden? Rooting hydrangeas is a great way to get the job done. Hydrangeas come in many varieties, so there’s sure to be one that will fit perfectly with your outdoor aesthetic. Plus, rooting them isn’t as intimidating or difficult as it may sound – we’ll walk you through all the steps needed for success.

Rooting hydrangeas is easiest using softwood or greenwood cuttings taken in spring or summer. Hardwood cuttings can also be taken in the fall, but may not root as reliably. Rooting hormone isn’t necessary, but can sometimes be helpful. Cuttings that have rooted in spring and summer can be transplanted once the root system is established, while cuttings taken in the fall generally do best when overwintered in a planter pot in a greenhouse.

From taking cuttings off of the mother shrub, rooting them in soil or water, and even layering bent branches – our guide has everything covered. Let us help show you how easy it can be when it comes time for planting rooted cuttings into your garden.

Rooting hydrangeas

The basics of rooting hydrangeas

Rooting hydrangeas is a great way to expand your garden and add more of these beautiful flowering plants. It’s not as difficult as it may seem, but there are some basics you should know before getting started.

1. Rooting hydrangea cuttings in soil

The most common method for rooting hydrangeas is by taking cuttings from existing plants and planting them in the soil. To do this, start by selecting healthy stems with at least two sets of leaves on them. Greenwood and softwood cuttings tend to be easier to root than brittle hardwood cuttings.

Cut the stem just below the second set of leaves using clean scissors or pruning shears, making sure that each cutting has at least one node (the point where the leaf was attached). Dip the end of each cutting into a rooting hormone powder if desired, then plant them in a moist potting mix or garden soil about an inch deep and water lightly.

Place your potted cuttings in indirect sunlight until they have rooted—this can take anywhere from four weeks to several months depending on the variety of hydrangea you’re working with. Once roots have formed, transplant your new plants into their own pots or directly into your garden bed.

Rooting hydrangeas

2. Rooting hydrangea cuttings in water

You can also root hydrangea cuttings in water. Simply place your stem cuttings into clean water-filled containers such as jars or vases and change out the water every few days until roots begin forming, which usually takes 1-2 weeks depending on environmental conditions like temperature and humidity levels.

Once rooted, transfer your newly formed plants into pots filled with moistened potting mix for further growth indoors or outdoors once temperatures permit outside planting timeframes vary by region).

3. Rooting hydrangeas by layering bent branches

If you have an established hydrangea bush already growing in your yard, you may want to try layering bent branches instead of taking stem cuttings from it directly. To do this, simply bend down low hanging branches towards ground level while keeping them connected at their base point with other parts of the shrub’s main trunk/stem structure; bury these bent branches partially beneath some loose soil so they stay put then wait patiently until they develop their own roots.

This process typically takes 2-3 months depending on environmental conditions like temperature and humidity levels. Once rooted successfully, these new plants can be carefully detached from the parent plant without causing too much damage to either side and transplanted elsewhere within the garden space accordingly if desired. Alternatively, leave them happily growing alongside the parent bush as additional decorative features too.

With the basics of rooting hydrangeas covered, let’s move on to the next step: how to take cuttings off the mother shrub.

Pink hydrangea shrub
You can usually take cuttings any time from about april to october. Spring cuttings root more easily than fall cuttings, and can usually be planted out into the garden (while fall cuttings need more careful overwintering).

How to take hydrangea stem cuttings off the mother shrub

Taking cuttings off the mother shrub is a great way to propagate your hydrangeas. It’s an easy and cost-effective way to get more of these beautiful flowering plants for your garden.

Before you start, make sure you have the right tools: clean pruning shears or scissors, rooting hormone powder (optional), and plastic bags or containers with lids.

Choosing branches for taking cuttings

When selecting cuttings from the mother shrub, look for healthy stems that have a nice straight section about 6 inches long and have several sets of leaves on them. Avoid any stems that are diseased or damaged in any way. If possible, take multiple cuttings from different parts of the plant so you can increase your chances of success when propagating them later on. Its always good to take extra cuttings if you can.

Cutting the stems

Once you’ve chosen which stems to use as cuttings, it’s time to actually snip them off the mother shrub. Make sure each cutting has at least two sets of leaves on it before trimming it away from the main stem using sharp pruning shears or scissors – this will help ensure successful propagation later on. Be careful not to damage other parts of the plant while doing this step; try not to leave any jagged edges behind after cutting away each stem piece.

Applying rooting hormone (optional)

If desired, apply some rooting hormone powder onto each cutting before placing it into its own container or baggie filled with moist potting soil mix – this will help encourage root growth once planted out in its new home. Simply dip one end of each cutting into a small bowl containing powdered rooting hormone before planting out in its new home; be sure not to touch any other part of the plant with this mixture as well. This step is completely optional but may increase your chances for success when propagating hydrangea cuttings if done correctly.

Storing the cuttings in containers

After applying rooting hormone (if desired), place the cuttings into a container or baggie. Make sure there is enough space around all sides so air can circulate freely inside and prevent mold growth during storage. Place lids onto containers/baggies securely afterward and store them somewhere cool until ready for planting out in their new homes, usually within 1-2 weeks depending upon conditions such as temperature and humidity levels.

Taking cuttings from the mother shrub is an important step in propagating hydrangeas. Now that you have the cuttings, let’s look at how to root them in soil for successful growth.

Key takeaway

Propagating hydrangeas from cuttings is an easy and cost-effective way to get more of these beautiful flowering plants. Choose healthy stems, snip them off the mother shrub using sharp pruning shears or scissors, optionally apply rooting hormone powder before planting out in its new home, and store in containers/baggies with lids until ready for planting.

How to root hydrangea cuttings in soil

Rooting hydrangeas in the soil is a great way to propagate your plants and create new ones. It’s an easy process that requires minimal effort and can be done with just a few simple steps.

First, you need to select the right cutting for rooting. Choose one that has at least two sets of leaves on it, as this will help ensure success. Make sure the stem is healthy and free from disease or damage before taking your cutting.

Next, prepare the potting soil by mixing equal parts peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite together in a container large enough for the cuttings you plan to root. Add water until the mixture is moist but not soggy – about like a wrung-out sponge – then fill each pot with the prepared soil mix up to 1 inch below its rim.

Once your pots are ready, make a hole in each one big enough for your cutting using either your finger or a pencil or chopstick if needed; then insert the cutting into its hole so it stands upright without falling over when released gently from above. Gently firm up around it with more of the soil mix if necessary so that it stays firmly planted in place while rooting takes place beneath ground level over time (usually within 2-3 weeks).

Finally, keep an eye on moisture levels throughout this process: too much water can cause rot while too little will stunt growth; aim for somewhere between those extremes by watering regularly but lightly every other day or so depending on how quickly your particular environment dries out (you may need more frequent watering during hot summer months). If all goes well you should see new roots emerging within 3-4 weeks. Give the stem a gentle tug to see if resistance indicates root growth.

Rooting hydrangea cuttings in the soil is a great way to propagate new plants, but if you’re looking for an even easier approach, try rooting your cuttings in water.

How to root hydrangea cuttings in water

Rooting hydrangeas in water is a great way to get more of these beautiful shrubs without having to buy them. It’s an easy and cost-effective method that anyone can do with just a few simple steps.

First, you need to select the right cutting from your mother’s shrub. Choose one that has at least two or three sets of leaves and cut it off near the base using sharp pruning shears or scissors. Make sure there are no buds on the cutting as they will not root properly in water.

Next, remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem so only about 1/2 inch remains above the water line when placed in a jar or glass container filled with fresh, cool tap water. Place your cutting into this container and make sure it stands upright by propping it up against something if necessary.

Change out the water every couple of days for best results and watch for signs of rooting such as new growth appearing on top of soil level after several weeks have passed since planting your cutting in water. If roots appear before then, simply wait until they become longer before transplanting into the soil outside or inside depending on where you want your hydrangea bush to grow.

Rooting hydrangea cuttings in water is a simple and effective way to propagate your plants. Next, we’ll look at how to root hydrangeas by layering bent branches for even more success.

How to root hydrangeas by layering bent branches

Layering is a simple and effective way to propagate hydrangeas. It’s an easy process that requires minimal effort but yields great results. All you need are some bent branches from the mother shrub and a little patience.

Choose branches that are still attached to the mother shrub, preferably those with at least two sets of leaves. Make sure they’re healthy and free of disease or pests. If possible, select branches with flower buds for better success rates in propagation.

Bend the branch so it lies horizontally on the ground without breaking it off from its parent plant (this will be important later). Secure it in place by using stakes, a forked twig, a landscape staple, a brick, or rocks if necessary. This will help keep your branch in position until roots form.

Cover your bent branch lightly with soil, making sure not to bury any of its leaves or flowers beneath the surface. You want just enough soil to cover up most of the stem so moisture can reach down into where new roots will form – usually about one inch deep should do it.

Once everything is set up properly, give your layering project a good watering every few days during dry spells, and wait patiently for new roots to start forming along the buried portion of your stem. This could take anywhere from several weeks to several months depending on conditions like temperature and humidity levels outside as well as how much water you give them regularly throughout their rooting period.

Once the cuttings are firmly rooted, you can move on to caring for them properly so they will thrive. Separate them by cutting the connecting stem so you have a separate baby plant that is no longer attached to the mother plant.

Caring for cuttings as they root

Here are the basics of caring for rooting hydrangea cuttings:


When caring for cuttings as they root, it is important to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Hydrangea cuttings need regular watering, usually every other day or so depending on your climate and how quickly the soil dries out. If you are using a potting mix with good drainage, be sure to water deeply enough that moisture reaches all of the roots. Check the soil regularly by sticking your finger in it; if it feels dry more than an inch down, then it’s time to water again.


Hydrangeas thrive in humid conditions which can be hard to replicate indoors without a humidity tray or misting system. To create some extra humidity around your hydrangea cuttings, place them in a sunny spot and consider covering them with plastic wrap or putting them inside a terrarium while they root. This will help retain moisture in the air and prevent drying out of the leaves and stems.


The ideal temperature range for rooting hydrangea cuttings is between 65-75°F (18-24°C). If temperatures drop too low (below 55°F/13°C) then the development of new roots will slow down significantly, so it is important to monitor temperatures closely during cold weather months if you are trying to root hydrangeas indoors over the winter time.

Caring for cuttings as they root is an important step in ensuring successful growth. With the right environment and care, your hydrangea cuttings will be ready to plant in your garden soon.

Planting a rooted hydrangea

Planting rooted cuttings in the garden

Planting rooted cuttings in the garden is a great way to expand your hydrangea collection. Whether you’ve taken cuttings from an existing shrub or have received them as a gift, it’s easy to get started. Here are some tips for successful planting:

Choose a planting spot

Hydrangeas prefer partial shade and moist soil with good drainage. Make sure your chosen spot has these conditions before planting.

Prepare the soil

Before planting, loosen up the soil by digging down about 8 inches and adding compost or manure to help create rich, loamy soil that will provide plenty of nutrients for your new plant.

Digging a planting hole

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball but no deeper than its original depth when planted in its nursery pot. This ensures that roots don’t dry out too quickly after being transplanted into their new home.

How to plant rooted hydrangeas

Gently remove any excess dirt from around the roots of your cutting and place it in the center of your prepared hole at roughly equal depth as when it was first potted up in its nursery container. Fill in with loose soil around each side until all air pockets are eliminated and tamp down lightly so there’s good contact between roots and surrounding earth – this helps ensure proper hydration levels throughout the growing season.

Aftercare for newly-planted hydrangeas

Water thoroughly after planting, then add 2-3 inches of mulch over top (not touching the stem) to help retain moisture during the hot summer months ahead. Be sure not to overwater; once established they can tolerate drought conditions better than overly wet ones which may lead to root rot or other diseases if left unchecked for too long periods without proper drainage systems installed beforehand (i.e., French drains).

FAQs about rooting your own hydrangeas

Can you grow a hydrangea from a cutting?

Yes, it is possible to grow a hydrangea from a cutting. The process is relatively simple and can be done in just a few steps.

First, select healthy stems with at least two sets of leaves and cut them off the parent plant at an angle. Remove any flowers or buds that may be present on the stem.

Place the cutting in water or moist soil until roots form then transplant into potting soil or directly into your garden bed. Keep the area well-watered and provide plenty of sunlight for best results.

How long do hydrangea cuttings take to root?

Hydrangea cuttings typically take between 4-6 weeks to root. The exact time frame depends on the type of hydrangea and the conditions in which it is grown. Generally, the cutting should be taken from a healthy stem that has recently been pruned and placed in moist soil or water with indirect sunlight. With proper care, you can expect to see new roots beginning to form within four weeks. Once established, these roots will continue to grow until they are ready for transplanting into your garden or container.

Are hydrangeas easy to root?

Yes, hydrangeas are relatively easy to root. They can be propagated from softwood cuttings taken in the spring or early summer and rooted in a potting mix with good drainage. The cuttings should be about 4-6 inches long and have at least two sets of leaves on them. Place the cutting into moist soil and keep it out of direct sunlight until new growth appears, which usually takes 2-3 weeks. After that, you can move it to a sunny spot for continued growth. With proper care, your new hydrangea will soon take root.

Do you need rooting hormone for hydrangeas?

No, you do not need rooting hormone for hydrangeas. Hydrangeas are generally easy to propagate from cuttings and don’t require the use of rooting hormones. You can simply take a cutting from an existing plant, remove any leaves on the lower half of the stem, dip it in water and then place it in moist soil or potting mix. Keep the soil damp but not soggy and your new plants should root within a few weeks.

Before you go…

With the right steps and some patience, you can have success in rooting hydrangeas from cuttings, water, or layering bent branches. Taking care of the cuttings as they root will ensure that they are healthy and ready for planting when it’s time. Now that you know how to root hydrangeas, why not give it a try?



  • Ballato, L. (2017). Success with Hydrangeas: A Gardener’s Guide
  • Korniichuk, S. (2021). Hydrangea: Full Guide How Tо Grow Аnd Care for Hydrangeas
  • Lawson-Hall and Rothera (2005). Hydrangeas: A Gardener’s Guide

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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a gardening expert and founder of Home for the Harvest. She's also a professional engineer, certified permaculture garden designer, and master gardener in training. Mary Jane has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, Heirloom Gardener, and Family Handyman.