Growing hydrangeas in pots

Growing hydrangeas in pots

Over the years, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the beloved Southern French flower, also known as the large-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla). Like you, I adore the cheerful snowballs of blue, purple, pink, red or white flowers that crown the shrub each summer. Like many of you, I was frustrated when planting them in the yard, only to see them wither and die in the red clay soil and wilting summer drought.


I, the angry gardener, actually killed three “Endless Summer” hydrangeas in one year because I refused to soak their roots every non-rainy day for three months after I got home from work. I decided that their creator should have called them “Instant Death” because of the unfortunate way they presented to me.


Then I had a brilliant flash of insight, as I often do. Wouldn’t hydrangeas do better in ideal soil – loose, well-drained, and full of delicious organic matter? Wouldn’t they thrive with the right amounts of light and life-giving water? Of course they will! What is the easiest way to provide such conditions? Grow plants in pots!


When you grow hydrangeas in pots, you don’t have to worry about pathetic soil. You are using a brand name potting soil. Don’t worry if the soil is too dry or too wet. Simply water the pots in the morning until excess water comes out of the drainage holes. Then check them again in the afternoon. If wilted, water. Watering plants in pots takes much less time, because all the water goes directly to the roots, rather than running off the surface of the soil. And it’s not just about growing in one place. You can move the pot to where you want.


Watch: The Angry Gardener’s Guide to Hydrangeas




Make this process easier on yourself by choosing a large pot that is at least 14 inches wide at the top. The more soil the pot contains, the less often you should water and fertilize. Also choose a thriving selection that thrives on current and past year’s growth. This way, if you get into the habit of pruning and overdo it (most hydrangeas need very little pruning), you’ll still get flowers even if you cut off some of the flower buds.


mountain hydrangea (Hydrangea serrated) is another good hydrangea for pots. This plant grows shorter and more compact and offers the same color-changing ability as French hydrangea. It’s more cold-hardy, too, and its leaves turn burgundy in the fall. Most selections feature clusters of lace flowers – small, fertile flowers in the center surrounded by large, sterile flowers on the outside. Again, choose a flourish like “Tuff Stuff” if you can.


The hydrangeas are back in Grumpy’s good graces. Good pots make happy plants.

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