How To Care for Hydrangeas in Pots: The Easy Guide

Some useful tips to successfully care for these beautiful flowers

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By Alex

How To Care for Hydrangeas in Pots

Let’s take a look at how to care for hydrangeas in pots. These flowers, originally from China, are adored by everyone for their stunning beauty and simple care requirements. They’ve become popular in nearly every country. Hydrangeas are durable and strong, making them ideal for planting in gardens or growing in big pots on balconies.

What is a hydrangea plant?

Scientifically known as Hydrangea, it’s one of the most admired plants for its beautiful flowers. It’s part of the Hydrangeaceae family and boasts around 70 species originating from East Asia.

Its unique flowers are grouped in inflorescences called corymbs, and they come in a variety of colors: white, pink, violet, and blue. Interestingly, their color can be influenced by the acidity of the soil they grow in.

Potted hydrangeas bloom during the spring and summer months. It’s precisely during these periods that we can admire their unmistakable ball-shaped flowers in various colors.

Where to place potted hydrangeas

Potted hydrangeas thrive best in sunny positions but should be shielded from excessive direct sunlight to prevent stem bending. An ideal sun exposure is somewhere between 4 and 6 hours daily, depending on the variety. They prefer bright locations and open air, making balconies ideal spots.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider temperature, as they can withstand frost but may struggle in excessive heat.

How to cultivate hydrangeas in pots

Apart from being planted in the ground, hydrangeas can also be grown in pots. Among the numerous varieties, the most suitable for container cultivation are Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea macrophylla, which, in turn, come in different cultivars, each varying in flower shape and color.

The main advice is to use rather large pots, to be placed on terraces and balconies. Since hydrangeas are rather voluminous plants, it is recommended to use pots with a diameter of at least 60 cm. To prevent soil from escaping through the pot’s drainage holes, start by lining the bottom of the container with a fine mesh or a coffee filter.

Then, add sufficient potting soil to the bottom so that when you position the hydrangea, the top of its rootball is at least 2 inches below the container’s rim.

Then, it will be sufficient to follow the same care instructions as for planting in the garden, ensuring abundant and regular watering, and using organic fertilizer rich in nutrients to promote lush flowering.

How To Care for Hydrangeas in Pots
How To Care for Hydrangeas in Pots

How to grow and care for hydrangeas in pots

Now, let’s look at the factors to consider for the care of these splendid ornamental plants:

Climate

Hydrangeas in pots generally tolerate a range of climates, but they prefer temperate to mild conditions. They can withstand some cold temperatures, especially if provided with adequate protection, such as moving them to a sheltered location during frosty periods.

However, they may struggle in extreme heat, so it’s essential to ensure they are adequately watered and shielded from intense sunlight during hot summer day. Flowering usually stops above 18°C / 64°F.

Exposure

They like bright places with a balanced amount direct sunlight (4 to 6 hours daily). They thrive in the open air, so it’s advisable to keep them on the balcony rather than indoors.

Soil

The ideal soil for hydrangeas in pots is rich in peat, well-draining yet moisture-retentive. A good potting mix for hydrangeas should be rich in organic matter and have a slightly acidic to neutral pH level, ideally between 5.5 and 6.5.

Look for a high-quality potting soil specifically formulated for acid-loving plants or mix your own using equal parts peat moss, compost, and perlite or sand to ensure proper drainage. Avoid heavy clay soils or those that compact easily, as they can lead to waterlogging and root rot in potted hydrangeas.

Watering

They need frequent watering because the soil must remain consistently moist. However, do not use hard water, and be careful to avoid waterlogging.

Fertilization

Hydrangeas in pots don’t require frequent fertilization, but the timing of when you apply fertilizer matters. If your plant is freshly potted and the soil already includes slow-release fertilizer, there’s no need for additional applications during the growing season. For hydrangeas you plan to keep long-term, apply an all-purpose flowering shrub or rose fertilizer each early spring.

If you have reblooming hydrangeas, another dose of fertilizer in late spring can help maintain robust blooming throughout summer. Avoid fertilizing in late summer or fall to prevent late-season growth that could be damaged by frost.

Pruning

At the end of flowering, remove the branches that bloomed during the previous spring-summer.

Also, trim away dry and withered branches and leaves.

How To Care for Hydrangeas in Pots
How To Care for Hydrangeas in Pots

How to change the color of hydrangeas

The color of the flowers depends largely on the composition of the soil, specifically the acidity level.

  • Acid soil, with a pH from 5 to 5.5, will produce blue-violet flowers.
  • Acid-basic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 will yield pink, lilac, or magenta flowers.
  • Alkaline soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7 will result in beautifully deep pink flowers.

Watering potted hydrangeas

Hydrangeas require plenty of water and should be watered regularly, approximately every day. In summer, especially in hot and dry areas and periods, it may be useful to provide even two daily irrigations.

Use only rainwater or softened tap water. The soil must remain consistently moist but never waterlogged. Also, it’s best to avoid the formation of stagnant water.

To water hydrangeas, and acidophilic plants in general, such as azaleas, camellias, heather, gardenias, and many others, use water without limestone. So, use rainwater or softened tap water.

How and when to prune potted hydrangeas

This is another important thing to know when you have to care for hydrangeas in pots. Every year, at the end of flowering, usually around November, cut the branches that bloomed in spring, leaving a pair of buds.

In practice, only the faded shoots should be pruned to the height of the new shoots, from early August to mid-September.

How many times do potted hydrangeas bloom?

The vegetative activity begins in early March. The actual flowering takes place in April and lasts from 6 to 8 weeks.

In areas with a warmer climate, flowering occurs some time earlier.

How long do potted hydrangeas last?

With proper care, the flowers can last up to 8 weeks. It’s important that the temperature does not exceed 18°C / 64°F, otherwise, the flowering process stops.

Propagation of potted hydrangeas

Propagation is done by cuttings. Using a disinfected and well-sharpened knife, cut a piece about 10-15 cm long from the flowering branches.

Then, place the cuttings in a powder with rooting hormone to promote root growth. Afterward, transfer them to a pot filled with fertile soil mixed with sand.

Cover everything with a plastic bag, making sure to constantly check the soil moisture level.

After about 40 days, the first shoots will appear. Then it’s time to transfer the seedlings to pots with a diameter of about 10 cm, to be placed outdoors and in the shade, in an area sheltered from cold and drafts.

Why do hydrangea leaves wilt?

If you notice wilting leaves and flowers on your hydrangea, it could indicate both a lack of water and high temperatures. To remedy this, water the plant generously, even giving it a gentle shower in the evening after the sun has set.

If the plant appears weak and its leaves start to fade, wilt, and eventually dry up, it might be struggling to absorb nutrients. This often occurs when the soil is overly rich in lime, preventing proper nourishment. In such cases, transplanting the plant into richer, more acidic soil is the best solution.

Other hydrangea diseases

Although quite resistant, hydrangeas are susceptible to some diseases. Let’s know what its main enemies are:

  • Powdery mildew: a fungal disease that covers the leaves with a kind of white mold. Therefore, be very careful with water stagnation and avoid wetting the leaves.
  • Gray mold: a fungal disease that prevents buds from opening and leads to yellow spots on the leaves. Remove the diseased parts, then apply specific anti-fungal products to the plant.
  • Cercospora: a fungus that causes the appearance of large dark spots on the leaves.
  • Anthracnose: a fungus that causes brown spots on leaves and flowers.
  • Various parasites that cause leaf drying.
how to care for hydrangeas in pots
A stunningly beautiful potted hydrangea plant with pink flowers.

In which month can hydrangeas be repotted?

Every 2-4 years, these plants should be repotted, preferably in spring. During the operation, use a container larger than the previous one and fill it with specific soil for these flowers.

When can dried hydrangea flowers be cut?

Dry flowers should be pruned between late March and the first days of April. In milder areas, it can be done a little earlier, with the arrival of the first warm days.

More on this topic

Now that you have learnt the basics to care for hydrangeas in pots, here are some more articles you might be interested in: