Container Gardening

How to Grow Hydrangeas in Containers

By Amy Grisak

Enjoying the blooms

Hydrangea blossoms are stunning in a container on the porch or patio. Sometimes they are simply irresistible. There’s nothing more classic than an opulent bouquet of hydrangea blossoms. When you cut the flowers, give them enough stem to fit in a vase. Just don’t trim them too severely.

This holds true even if you wish to hang them upside down to dry. Hydrangea blossoms are known to dry beautifully. In this case, snip them, fashion a paper clip into a hook and such it through the end. Then, hang them in an area out of the sun. Within a couple of weeks, you’ll have a dried flower that will be beautiful for years.

Pruning at the end of the season

Deadhead blossoms as they are spent throughout the summer. For most hydrangeas try not to prune them much beyond the first part of August. Hydrangeas, including the container varieties, bloom on old and new wood. If the pruning is too heavy, you may be eliminating potential flowers for next year.

The best plan for pruning is to shape your hydrangea the way you like the best. If there are particularly long stems, trim them back to fit into the style with the others. But, be cautious. This means you will probably have spent blooms on your plant through the winter. It won’t hurt anything. It might even add a little winter interest and a bit of protection going into the cold months.

Overwintering your container hydrangea

To keep your container hydrangeas alive during the winter, bring them into a basement or garage before there is a hard freeze (in the 20s). Protect the base of the plant from drying out or excessive freezing and thawing cycles by placing some sort of mulch, such as shredded bark or straw, inside of the container because additional flower buds will grow at this level next year. Keep them moderately moist, but not over saturated.

Another option, depending on your location and the type of container you use, is to bury the entire pot and plant. Dig a hole deep enough to have the top of the container level with the soil level and set the pot inside. Mulch at least a foot thick with straw or shredded bark. The ground is an exceptional insulator. With enough mulch on top, the hydrangea should pull through beautifully, particularly if you live in an area with heavy snow cover.

In the spring, don’t place them outside until the danger of frost is passed. If you just can’t wait, at least be ready to bring them inside when there is a threat of cold. This is the same for the containers you place in the ground. Don’t be too quick to expose them to the erratic spring conditions unless you are ready to save them during a cold night.

So worth the effort

Growing hydrangeas in containers brings a bit of an old fashioned garden directly to the porch or patio. They do, however, require consistency in watering. If so inclined, tweak the soil conditions to obtain different colored flowers. Whatever you decide on color, hydrangeas in containers will provide a consistent source of beautiful blooms throughout the season.

Hydrangea lover – photo by Amy Grisak

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