3 Ways to Propagate Hydrangeas

If you love hydrangeas, then you should propagate them. How do you do this correctly?

When in full bloom, hydrangeas are a sight to behold. They may be so lovely that you want to propagate your existing plant so that you can have more to plant around your property.

Hydrangeas, in fact, do not easily produce viable seeds. It is far preferable to propagate them through stem cuttings, layering, or root divisions.

We will show you the process of each of these below!

The Ideal Timing

Cuttings are best taken from spring to late summer when the plant is leafing out, and the leaves are still lush and green.
It’s ideal to propagate hydrangeas and allow them time to establish roots before they go dormant in the winter.

Steps to Reproduce Through Stem Cuttings

A chopping board with plant scissor and some leaves

1. Take softwood cuttings

In early spring, take softwood cuttings. Softwood is used to describe stems that are new growth. Generally speaking, they are green and flexible. Use sharp pruners to make a clean cut above a leaf node (where the stem and leaf meet). 

2. Trim the Cutting to Below a Leaf Node  

Take your new softwood cutting and trim the very bottom portion. Trim the cutting to just below a leaf node. 

3. Remove the Lower Leaves on the Cutting

Next, remove the lower sets of leaves. Leave only 2-3 sets of leaves growing at the tip. 

4. Plant Your Cutting

Fill a 4-inch pot with fresh potting soil. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone and then push the cutting into the potting soil.  

A small stem cuttings planted in a small pot

5. Water Well

Water your cutting thoroughly and frequently. You can cover the pot with a clear plastic bag to hold in moisture. Place the pot in a shady area. Monitor the soil moisture closely. It needs to be consistently moist. In about a month, gently pull on the cutting – you will feel resistance when it has rooted.  

Steps to Reproduce Through Layering

This propagation method involves bending a stem down to the ground. 

1. Find An Appropriate Young Stem

Look for a young, flexible stem with several leaves. Remove all the leaves except for the top 2 or 3 sets. 

2. Dig a Shallow Trench

Dig a shallow trench next to the shrub and gently bend the stem down into it. Make sure there is at least one leaf node (where you stripped the leaves) in the trench. Keep the leafy tip above the soil.  

3. Cover the Stem

Cover the stem with soil. Weigh the stem down with a rock or brick so that it does not come out of the soil

4. Water Well

Keep the area well-watered and consistently moist. In about a month, new roots should have sprouted from the leaf node in the ground. These roots should be strong enough to survive on their own. 

5. Separate From the Mother Plant

Once new roots have been established, cut the stem from the mother plant. You can now gently dig up the baby hydrangea and plant it in a new location.

Root Divisions

Sometimes a hydrangea will send up suckering stems. These are easy to dig up and transplant. Use a sharp spade to cut the roots apart.

A gardener transplanting a pot of plant into the ground soil


Roots should be fully established after four to eight weeks. Your hydrangea is now ready to be planted in the garden or transplanted to a bigger, more permanent container.

For the first several weeks following planting, give your plants plenty of water.

If your plants aren’t ready to plant before the winter, you may shelter them until spring by putting them in a greenhouse or planting pots into the ground and covering them with a thick layer of mulch.

For ongoing care and maintenance, you can check out our comprehensive hydrangea guide.

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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