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How to Grow Hydrangeas in Pots (Australian Guide)

Hydrangeas are perfect for brightening up your garden in spring and summer.

I just love the gorgeous big blooms on these plants that seem to last forever.

Many people believe that hydrangeas don’t do well in pots but I’m here to tell you that you can grow them quite successfully in a pot if you give them the right conditions.

When I moved into my current house, I had the benefit of a lovely hydrangea growing next to the driveway. It is such a nice plant that I decided I would try and propagate it.

I found it was actually easy to propagate and ended up giving one of the young plants to a friend.

This friend has kept the hydrangea in a pot on his front step for around two years and it’s done magnificently. In fact, at one stage, he counted around 14 blooms on just this one plant.

So, what’s the secret?

Choose a large pot

When selecting a pot to grow your hydrangeas in, choose a relatively large one that is no smaller than 50 cm in diameter. This will give the root system enough space to grow.

hydrangea in pot 1 | Plant care

Select a compact variety

Another key to success is growing one of the more compact varieties of hydrangeas currently available.

Check out the Maiko series of plants that were bred by a Japanese grower, Hiroshi Ebihara.

You might also want to look at the ‘Endless Summer’ range which has plants that will produce more than one flowerhead on the same stem. This will happen if you deadhead the spent flower blooms.

These hybrids only grow to around a metre in height and around the same in width so they’re perfect for growing in a pot.

Position your potted hydrangea well

Potted hydrangeas do well if they’re exposed to morning sun but given shade from midday onwards. You’ll find that the leaves on your hydrangea will easily burn if they’re exposed to too much sunlight.

Hydrangeas will even flower in the shade as long as it’s not too dark.

hydrangea in pot 2 | Plant care

Therefore, you want to place your potted hydrangea somewhere it will get a little morning sun but is protected from the harsh midday and afternoon sun.

Keep your hydrangea well-watered

It’s important to note that the soil in pots dries out much faster than the soil in your garden.

Due to their large leaves, hydrangeas do like to be kept well-watered during the warmer months and this is even more important when they’re grown in a pot.

hydrangea watering | Plant care

In winter, when the plant is dormant, you can reduce the watering frequency as the hydrangea won’t need quite as much during this period.

On the flip side, you also want to ensure that the pot you’re using has adequate drainage holes because hydrangeas don’t appreciate having wet feet for any length of time.

So, you have to establish a nice balance between ensuring they have enough water and also avoiding overwatering them or letting them sit in water.

Luckily, if you’ve forgotten to water your hydrangea, the plant will tell you by its drooping leaves.

Use a premium potting mix

If you plan to grow a hydrangea in a pot, make sure that you use a premium potting mix and never use garden soil.

hydrangea potting soil | Plant care

Premium potting mixes have the right structure for pot plants and many also have fertiliser added.

It’s also a good idea to add some water-holding crystals to the mix as this will stop it from drying out too quickly.

Feed your potted hydrangea twice a year

For potted plants, I generally prefer to use a slow-release fertiliser such as Osmocote or Hortico.

The slow-release pellets are easy to scatter over the top of the potting mix and will feed your plants on a continual basis for around 6 months.

Hydrangeas should be fed in spring and again in autumn. Just remember that when you’re using these types of fertiliser pellets you need to water your plants until the excess comes out of the drainage holes.

This eliminates the build-up of excess salts in the mix.

Prune your potted hydrangea in winter

Like many flowering plants, hydrangeas benefit from a regular prune.

hydrangea pruning | Plant care

To prune your hydrangea, you want to cut back the stems that have flowered to a pair of plump leaf buds.

Avoid pruning back any stems that have not yet flowered.

Re-pot your hydrangea every two to three years

Re-potting your hydrangea is important because you’ll be using fresh potting mix to give your plant a boost.

This should be done every two to three years in winter when the plant is dormant.

FAQ

Do hydrangeas do better in pots or in the ground?

Hydrangeas can do equally well in pots or in the ground as long as you follow the guidelines above to keep your potted hydrangeas thriving.

What is the best potting mix for hydrangeas?

Always select a premium potting mix, which you can purchase from your local garden centre.

What is the best container for hydrangeas?

Choose a large pot that is at least 50 cm in diameter. A plastic pot with good drainage holes is best because terracotta pots are porous and tend to dry out more quickly.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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