Looking for ways to grow and enjoy more hydrangeas for free? Wait until you see how easy it is to divide hydrangeas and grow your garden without spending a dime!

Hydrangeas are gorgeous shrubs that are a staple in many gardens, and for good reason. They’re low-maintenance, long-blooming, and come in a variety of stunning colors.

Did you know that hydrangeas can be divided?

It’s true!

While there are a few ways to propagate hydrangeas, today, I’m sharing how to divide them so you can grow even more of these beauties for free.

But not all hydrangeas do well with dividing.

Here’s what you need to know.

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Did You Know Hydrangeas Could Be Divided?

Last week, I was walking the gardens with my dogs. And while touring the beds, I started inspecting the hydrangeas to see how they are leafing out and filling in this spring.

I noticed one of the shrubs looked like it sprouted a few baby sections. And I saw three smaller clumps from the main plant.

This means I have additional plants that are attached to the main hydrangea that I planted several years ago.

Now, I could just leave them be and allow them to stay with the mother plant. But this is a great way to grow my garden and get more stock for FREE!

And I’m all about free stuff when it comes to gardening!

To be clear, I have never done this before but free plants are always worth trying something new. I did a quick Google search to see if this was indeed a thing and I found a bunch of search results so, I was totally doing this!

So much like dividing a perennial, I grabbed a spade shovel and started digging out the baby hydrangeas.

Not gonna lie – digging through those roots was not easy but it was worth the effort.

Close up of Everblooming hydrangea flowers - hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer
The Basics of Hydrangea Care

5 Reasons You Should Divide Your Hydrangea

Dividing a hydrangea has several benefits, both for the plant and for the gardener. Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider dividing your hydrangea:

  • Increases your stock for free: By dividing your hydrangea, you can create multiple new plants from a single mature plant. This means you can expand your garden without having to spend any money on new plants.
  • Promotes plant health: Over time, mature plants can become overcrowded and start to suffer. Dividing your hydrangea can help to alleviate overcrowding, which can improve the health and vigor of the plant.
  • Encourages better blooming: Dividing the plant can help to stimulate new growth and encourage more blooms.
  • Easy to do: Dividing a hydrangea is a relatively simple process that doesn’t require any special tools or expertise. As long as you follow the basic steps, you should be able to successfully divide your plant.
  • Makes More Room: By dividing your hydrangea, you will free up some space in your garden. This is particularly beneficial when it outgrows the allotted space and starts crowding out other plants.

Overall, dividing a hydrangea is a great way to propagate new plants, improve the health of your existing plants, and increase your chances of seeing lots of beautiful blooms.

So why not give it a try?

close up of hydrangeas that have white and blue flowers

When Should You Split Hydrangeas?

If you’re looking to split your hydrangea, timing is key. The best time to do it is in the early spring, just as new growth is starting to emerge, or later in the fall before the plant goes dormant.

Avoid dividing your hydrangea in summer because it is too hot for the plant to establish a good root system.

Splitting during the hot summer months can cause undue stress to the plant and make it more susceptible to disease and pests.

annabelle hydrangea flowers

Best Hydrangea Varieties to Split

I’ve learned over the years that not all Hydrangeas can be propagated by division. For best results, big leaf, oakleaf and smooth hydrangeas seem to do best with division.

Panicle hydrangeas and climbing hydrangeas are more difficult to divide For these types of hydrangeas, I would try propagating them with root-cutting or layering methods instead.

How to Divide Hydrangeas

Dividing a hydrangea is actually quite simple, and it’s a great way to get more plants for free! Here’s how I did it!

Supplies Needed to Divide Hydrangeas

Not much is needed to divide and replant hydrangeas. It is likely you have most of these supplies on hand, but in case you don’t, here is a good list of items to keep in your garden shed.

I use them all the time with various gardening activities so they are worth the minimal investment.

white hydrangea flowers

Directions for Dividing Hydrangeas

If you are unfamiliar with how to divide a plant, click here to learn the basics.

While it is not difficult to do, this does require a little more effort than dividing perennials. Because we are dividing a shrub, the roots are much thicker than a smaller perennial. So I jumped on the shovel to help slice through the thicker roots.

Do what you can to salvage as much of the root ball as possible. The less damage to the root ball, the easier it will be to establish the transplant.

  • Grab your garden supplies.
  • While you don’t have to wear garden gloves, I recommend wearing them. They will help you grip the shovel and protect your hands from blisters.
  • Start digging around the base of the baby clump, starting with the outside of the plant and work your way in.
  • Use your body weight if needed to dig through and under the roots. The roots can be pretty tough though, so don’t be shy about jumping on the shovel to dig down and slice through some of the thicker roots. Try to salvage as much of the root ball as you can. The more protected the roots are, the easier it will be to acclimate to its new location.
  • Dig around the base of the clump in a circle and use a lifting motion when digging under the plant to start separating it from the mother plant. This will help loosen the roots and lift the clump out.
  • Use a garden fork to get underneath and help lift the root ball out.
  • Continue digging and lifting. It took me about 10-15 minutes to get two clumps out but was well worth the effort. I got FREE plants now!
  • Immediately replant the baby clumps in another area then water it. In general, hydrangeas prefer morning light and afternoon shade.
close up of endless summer hydrangea with blue flowers - How to Make the Best Compost Recipe

How to Replant Hydrangea Divisions

Once you’ve successfully divided your hydrangea, the next step is to replant the new divisions. Here are some tips to help ensure that your newly divided hydrangeas thrive in their new homes:

  1. Choose the location: Make sure the spot you choose for your new hydrangea divisions is suitable for their specific variety. In general, hydrangeas prefer well-draining soil, partial shade, and protection from harsh winds.
  2. Dig the planting holes: Dig a hole that is roughly the same size as the root ball of the new division. Make sure the hole is deep enough to accommodate the entire root system.
  3. Add garden soil and compost: Add a generous amount of compost to the planting hole to provide the new plant with nutrients and help retain moisture.
  4. Plant the new division: Gently place the new division into the planting hole, making sure it’s centered and upright. Backfill the hole with soil and tamp it down lightly.
  5. Water well: Give the new division a good soaking of water to help settle the soil and encourage the roots to establish themselves. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  6. mulch: Add a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or bark chips, around the base of the new plant. This will help retain moisture in the soil and keep weeds at bay.
  7. Monitor and care: Keep an eye on your newly replanted hydrangea divisions over the coming weeks and months.

Make sure the leaves stay healthy as they fill out. The plant will likely show some signs of stress while it takes time to acclimate to its new home. Do not fertilize it.

Only backfill the garden hold with good healthy garden soil. Add soil amendments like compost, well-aged manure, and peat moss if the bag of garden soil doesn’t have it already mixed in.

Do not expect much out of the transplants this season while they devote their energy to developing a good root system. As long as the plant continues to leaf out and stays green, it will be fine. With gardening, good things come to those who wait.

For additional information on dividing hydrangeas see the University of Georgia’s Extension and Oregon State University Extension articles.

blue flowers on Endless summer hydrangeas in backyard garden with raised garden bed planters and garden shed - Are Hydrangeas Deer Resistant?

Update on My Divided Hydrangeas

Isn’t that so cool? I divided these hydrangeas, dug up and moved the divisions when we moved to our new home in late 2021. And I am happy to report that they are thriving today in my former backyard garden and doing fabulous here in my new gardens too!. So this method is worth doing if you notice your shrub dividing itself.

close up of lacecap hydrangea flowers
Lacecap hydrangea

More About Dividing Hydrangeas

Have you ever divided a hyrdangea before? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I would love to know more in the comments below.

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blue hydrangea flowers in october

Garden Supplies I Use

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. Here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

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close up of blue endless summer hydrangea

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Want to learn more about me? I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

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close up of endless summer hydrangea
hydrangea paniculata near the potager garden with zinnias and sedum autumn joy
Close up of limelight hydrangeas planted en masse -How to Divide Hydrangeas
Gorgeous hedge planting of Hydrangea Paniculata (belongs to a neighbor).
close up of an endless summer hydrangea
Close up of limelight hydrangea - How to Divide Hydrangeas
Close-up of hyrangea paniculata in bloom - Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming
Hydrangea Paniculata
limelight hydrangea with callicarpa in the fall gardenShrub Garden Ideas
The limelight hydrangea I planted in the well garden last fall is starting to fill in nicely. I’m hoping to propagate this one by layering a branch in the ground.
Limelight hydrangea in fall with flowers Shrub Garden Ideas
The newly planted limelight hydrangea I planted in fall before it goes dormant.
formal garden with hydrangeas How to Divide Hydrangeas
Close up of Endless Summer Hydrangea - Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming
This is the everblooming hydrangea I divided and replanted in another area of my yard.

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12 Comments

  1. I am going to try this next year for sure! It’s getting a little too warm now. Thank you so much for the tips Stacy!

    1. Yeah I hope mine make it – we are having erratic weather now. I think I just heard snow? what???

  2. I just planted a very small hydrangea last spring but it is still very small and it’s not grown much but looks very healthy but I don’t think it’s going to do as well where it is presently so I was wanting to move it now to better area that drains better than where it is now. I feel better after reading the article. Wish me luck.