How to Plant Hydrangeas in Pots

Hydrangeas in pots are extremely versatile and can be used to add vibrance to many different spaces. How do you grow one successfully in a pot?

We all know and love these colorful, flowering plants. They are a gardener’s favorite and can add beauty to a garden when it blooms. 

But what if you want to bring the beauty inside or into an area where there is no soil to plant it into the ground? Can it be planted in a pot?

The answer is a resounding yes, but you will need to consider a couple of things when planting and caring for your hydrangea. 

Choose the Right Container and Soil

Make sure to choose a container that is large enough for the mature size of the plant. Check the tag or look up the species online to find its mature size. Knowing this and planning for it will save you a lot of headaches in the future.

When you are choosing a container, make sure that it has drainage holes at the bottom. Without drainage holes, water will pool at the bottom of the pot and can easily lead to root rot. 

Similarly, find a potting mix that is high quality and drains well to provide good aeration to the plants’ roots.

A terracotta colored plastic plant pot upside down

8 Steps to Planting in a Pot

  1. Fill your pot with your high-quality potting mix
  2. Dig a hole about two times as wide and as deep as the root ball of your new hydrangea. The crown of the plant (where the roots and the stems meet) should be level with the top of the soil.
  3. Remove the plant from wherever you are transplanting it from. Gently untangle any circling roots. Be careful to try not to break roots in half. 
  4. Place the plant in the small hole that you made in the pot. Put the roots into the hole and gently fill the soil around the roots.
  5. Firm the soil around the plant and water it in. You can add some mulch around the base of the plant if you want. Be careful not to pile the mulch on the crown of the plant.
  6. Place the pot in an area that will receive morning sun but be protected from the afternoon sun.
  7. Don’t fertilize and don’t prune your plant for at least one year. 
  8. For the first month after planting in the new container, you may need to water the plant as frequently as once per day. While its root system is establishing itself in its new habitat, thorough watering is essential.
A small blue hydrangeas houseplant under the heat of the sun

Watering Your Shrub

Hydrangeas in a pot will need to be watered more often than those in the ground. Since they are in pots, they do not have as big an area to draw water from. Additionally, the sun can heat up the pot itself and rapidly increase the rate of evaporation. 

Depending on the amount of sun your shrub is receiving, you may need to water more or less. If your plant is receiving full sun, you may need to water as frequently as every day. If it is in a shaded area, you likely will only need to water it 2-3 times per week during the growing season. 

When you are watering, make sure that you pour ample water around the whole perimeter of the plant. Keep watering until you can see water coming out of the bottom drainage holes. 

It is better to water less frequently but with more amounts rather than watering small amounts every day. If you water only small amounts every day, it will decrease the aeration in the soil and may lead to the development of root rot. 

Bring in Your Potted Plant in the Winter

As you might have presumed by now, if you live in a cold region, you will need to bring in potted hydrangeas over the winter.

By having it in a pot, you have greater flexibility over how to take care of it in the winter. Since hydrangeas can do fine in your yard over winter, you may assume that it should be alright if left outside during the winter. However, roots in pots are more exposed to the cold than they would be in the ground.

To protect your hydrangeas from the coldest months of the year, bring them indoors. This might be in your greenhouse, where the temperature decrease will be less severe, or in your garage, where they will not regularly be subjected to harsh frosts.

Protecting your hydrangeas during the winter will give them a good start in the spring, so return your container to your yard or patio as the weather warms up. Don’t be alarmed by the rare late frost; hydrangeas are cold hardy enough to handle it.

Slow Down Watering in the Winter

In the winter, your plant will go into a state of dormancy. During this period, it will require less water. You may only need to water once per week.

The only caveat is that if your house is very dry in the winters, it may speed up water evaporation from the soil. Make sure that you consider your specific growing conditions and monitor the dryness of the soil rather than just sticking to a set frequency.

A lady watering the hydrangeas houseplants

No Need to Fertilize Too Much

Hydrangeas don’t require much fertilizer, but you may use a slow-release balanced fertilizer, a 10-10-10 granular fertilizer, or commercially composted manure once or twice a year to feed your plants.

If you reside in a hot area, don’t fertilize after July or August. Gardeners in the northern hemisphere only need to fertilize only once, in June or July. Feeding hydrangeas later fosters sensitive, fresh growth just before they’re about to go dormant for the winter.

Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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