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How to Propagate Hydrangeas in 7 Easy Steps

Looking for ways to grow more hydrangeas without breaking the bank? Learn how to propagate hydrangeas and get more plants for FREE with these easy propagation methods.

Do you love hydrangeas as much as I do?

Seriously, I can’t get enough of them and want to grow more.

Like A LOT more.

I’ve been thinking about ways to get more hydrangeas for free so I can tuck a few more in some of my gardens.

Do you remember when I divided my hydrangea?

It was a good workout splitting it. Because those roots were tough!

But there are other ways to get more hydrangeas for free that, with a little patience, and are pretty easy to do.

Note: the best time to propagate hydrangeas is in spring when the plant is leafing out to late summer when the leaves are still lush and green.

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What is Propagation?

In general, propagating a plant means we are increasing its numbers or enlarging the populations.

There are lots of ways to propagate plants.

Here is a list of some common ways to propagate plants.

close up of lacecap hydrangea with stella d'oro sunflower in background of pool garden with green garden fence and yellow building in background
Lacecap hydrangea

Can You Grow a Hydrangea from a Cutting?

The answer is YES!

In fact, hydrangeas are one of the most popular shrubs to grow from cuttings because they are so well loved and easy to propagate.

When Is the Best Time to Propagate Hydrangeas

Late summer is the best time to take cuts from hydrangeas for propagation.

When you make cuts, look for current season growth that is mature enough to have a woody base and still have a soft tip.

close up of lacecap hydrangea flowers
Lacecap hydrangea

How Long Do Hydrangea Cuttings Take to Root?

In general, hydrangea cuttings take about 2-3 weeks to root.

However, it could also take more or less time so don’t feel discouraged if 3 weeks goes by and it hasn’t rooted yet.

The environment plays a role in how quickly hydrangea cuttings will root.

It’s important to check on them periodically to insure they look healthy and give a little tug to see if they’ve rooted yet.

blue and white hydrangea flowers in the backyard garden in my early summer garden tour in new jersey
White and blue hydrangea flowers

How to Propagate Hydrangeas Two Ways

Propagating hydrangeas is very easy to do and can be done in a few ways.

Today, we are going to review two different methods to propagate hydrangea. And both ways can be done in 7 easy steps.

Wait until you see how easy both are to do!

Limelight hydrangea in bloom during fall -How to Propagate Hydrangeas in 7 Easy Steps
Limelight hydrangea, tall garden phlox, smoketree, zebra grass, and sedum autumn joy in small flower garden

How to Propagate Hydrangeas From Root Cuttings

Propagating hydrangeas from leaves is one of the easiest ways to double your stock.

Simple cut leaves, dip in some rooting hormone, plant in vermiculite or sterile soil, and you’ll have new plants in a few weeks.

Here’s how to do it!

Cutting hydrangea to propagate - The Complete Guide to Hydrangea Care
Cutting hydrangea for propagation

Supplies Needed to Propagating Hydrangeas from Leaves

While you might have most of these items on this list, here’s what you need to propagate hydrangeas from leaves.

pre moistening vermiculite to Propagate Hydrangeas
Moistening vermiculite before propagating hydrangeas

How to Propagate Hydrangeas From Leaves Directions

  1. Choose a branch that did not flower this season and cut a 5-6″ branch.
  2. Remove the lower leaves of the bottom two leaf nodes (where a leaf comes out of the branch). This is where most roots will grow from.
  3. Cut the largest leaves down to roughly half size.
  4. Stick finger or pencil into sterile soil or damp vermiculite to make planting hole.
  5. Dip cuttings in rooting hormone and insert into a sterile medium or damp vermiculite. Gently close the planting hole.
  6. Water well and allow to drain. Soil should be damp but not drenched.
  7. Add small stakes and cover with plastic wrap. I prefer to add the stakes before planting the root cutting but you can do it either way.
Poking hole in vermiculite before planting hydrangea cutting for propagation Propagate Hydrangeas
Poking hole in vermiculite before inserting hydrangea leaf cutting

Pre-moisten the soil or vermiculite so you don’t wash out the rooting hormone.

But don’t oversaturate it either.

Make a hole with your finger to make room for the cutting.

This will help keep the rooting hormone undisturbed as you plant the cutting.

Dipping cut hydrangea into rooting hormone to Propagate the hydrangea
Dipping hydrangea leaf cutting in rooting hormone

Dip the cutting in rooting hormone.

I prefer to add the rooting hormone to a separate small container so I don’t contaminate the main jar.

You might waste a little more this way, but it keeps everything clean and sanitary.

hydrangea cuttings after planting for propagation -Propagate Hydrangeas
Group of leaf cuttings for hydrangea propagation

Hydrangea Propagation Tips for Cuttings:

  • Keep hydrangea cuttings out of the sun in a bright shady spot.
  • To avoid root rot, only water when the top layer of soil or vermiculite begins to feel dry.
  • Cuttings should take about 2-3 weeks to form roots. You’ll know it is rooting if you gently tug on the cutting and feel some resistance.
  • When dipping the cuttings in rooting hormone, don’t dip it directly in the jar. Pour some rooting hormone into a small bowl and dip from there. This will help prevent the spread of disease in the jar of rooting hormone.
  • Use clean containers to plant cuttings.
  • Dampen the soil or vermiculite before starting.
Close- up of limelight hydrangea with tall phlox in bloomHow to Propagate Hydrangeas in 7 Easy Steps

How to Propagate Hydrangeas Using Ground Layering

Even easier than the root cutting method of propagating hydrangeas, is ground layering them.

Have you ever done that before?

It takes a few weeks from start to finish for roots to form, but in no time, you’ll have a new hydrangea plant that is ready for transplanting.

Here’s what you need to do.

Propagating Hydrangea by Ground Layering Supplies

Propagating hydrangea using layering method
Choose a branch that is closet to the ground.

How to Propagate Hydrangeas Using Ground Layering Technique

  1. Choose a hydrangea branch that is close to the ground.
  2. Remove the leaves where the branch will touch the ground when you gently bend it down.
  3. Scrape some bark off the branch in this area. Make sure at least one leaf node will be under the ground. This will help encourage root growth.
  4. Keep the branch attached to the mother plant. Do not cut it!
  5. Dig about a 2″ deep trench, lower the branch in and cover it with soil.
  6. To keep the branch from popping out of the soil, place a brick or stone on the buried area to weight it down.
  7. When roots form, cut the branch from the mother plant and pot it up or plant it in the garden.
Removing leaves where branches touch ground for layering method - Propagate Hydrangeas
pinch

Remove the leaves where the branch touches the ground.

Scrape off some of the bark.

And make sure one of the leaf nodes is planted under the soil.

hydrangea branch stripped of leaves before layering method for Propagate Hydrangeas
Laying hydrangea branch on ground before layering with soil
Diggin hole to Propagate Hydrangeas using layering method
Digging small hole to lay the hydrangea branch in for propagation

Dig a small hole where the branch will be planted.

Then pull the branch down and cover it with soil.

Covering branch to Propagate Hydrangeas using layering method
Covering up the hydrangea branch with soil

To weigh it down, add something heavy like a small rock.

This will keep it from popping back up out of the ground.

Adding rock to weight down branch after using layering method to Propagate Hydrangeas in 7 Easy Steps
Weighting down the hydrangea branch so it stays in contact with soil to produce roots

Hydrangea Propagation Tips for Ground Layering

  • Occasionally water. I typically let nature take care of this but if it hasn’t rained, I water.
  • To determine whether it rooted, lightly tug on branch. If you feel resistance, it has roots.

I am so excited to get more hydrangeas from the plants I already have.

I’ve heard hydrangeas can be rooted in water but I’ve not tried that way before.

Have you?

Hydrangea paniculata in bloom

If so, let me know how it went!

Also, in general, these propagation methods can be used with other plants as too.

It’s fun to experiment to see what propagates well and what doesn’t.

Happy Planting!

Limelight hydrangea in bloom -Are hydrangeas deer resistant?

More About Hydrangeas

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close up of everblooming hydrangea endless summer - how to propagate
Close up of endless summer hydrangea that blooms all season and can be propagated
How to Propagate Hydrangeas in 7 Easy Steps

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8 Comments

  1. thank you for the instructions. i have tried to grow hydrangeas over the years. No success. I am recently retired and my goal is to ramp up my yard with plants and flowers. Do you have any ways to propagate roses? I received some beautiful cut roses. some have started growing new leaves while in the vase. Can these be replanted??? thanks for any help/suggestions.

  2. I have had great success with this I use the clear plastic cups so I can see the roots they the sides or bottom! Thanks for posting I enjoy your garden’s!

  3. I’m planning to do this…FINALLY! I have a garden space in the backyard where I want to grow hydrangeas and this is a less expensive way of doing it.