Want more gorgeous hydrangeas? Learn how to propagate your own in a few easy steps! Simple techniques, expert tips, and success guaranteed!

Love those fluffy hydrangea blooms, but your wallet doesn’t share the enthusiasm? Propagating hydrangeas lets you expand your collection without spending a fortune. In this guide, you’ll discover how to grow new hydrangeas from the ones you already have.

Have you ever rooted hydrangea cuttings or branches before? All you need is a little patience because it’s super easy to do.

Are you ready to give it a go? Here’s what you need to do.

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limelight hydrangea flowers in lush garden scene

Why Propagate Hydrangeas?

In general, propagating a plant means we are increasing its numbers or enlarging the population. There are lots of ways to propagate plants. And some are easier to do than others.

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

Propagating hydrangeas offers several benefits. It saves you money since you can create new plants from existing ones instead of buying them all from a nursery.

Propagation also allows you to increase your collection of a specific hydrangea variety you adore, create gifts for fellow gardeners, or preserve special heirloom hydrangeas. Additionally, the nurturing process of propagation can be deeply fulfilling for any gardening enthusiast!

Propagating hydrangea plants is not hard but takes some time for the roots to form. So patience is key during the process.

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 Hydrangeas Be Grown From Cuttings?

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. It takes little time to do but the roots need time to develop before you have new plants.

Best Time to Propagate Hydrangeas

The best time to propagate hydrangeas is in the spring when the plant is leafing out to late summer when the leaves are still lush and green. 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 blue and pink lacecap hydrangeas displaying intricate flower patterns amid vibrant green leaves, ideal for ornamental garden settings with blue and pink 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 three weeks go 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 ensure they look healthy and give a little tug to see if they’ve rooted yet.

A vibrant garden scene with lush green foliage and clusters of white and pale blue hydrangea blossoms in full bloom. the focus is on the white hydrangeas, with a hint of blue ones in the background - how to propagate hydrangeas
White and blue hydrangea flowers

Three Ways to Propagate Hydrangea Plants

Hydrangeas are beautiful plants that can add color and texture to any garden. As pretty as they are, one of the best things about them is how easy it is to grow hydrangea from cutting. With a few simple steps, you can get more hydrangea plants and grow your garden for free.

Today, we chatting about 3 different methods for propagating hydrangeas. Wait until you see how easy they are to do!

Vibrant light green hydrangea paniculata blooms with white tips flourishing in a lush garden setting, showcasing healthy growth and dense foliage (limelight hydrangeas). Hydrangea propagation heps grow more!

Propagating Hydrangeas From Stem Cuttings

Rooting hydrangea cuttings is one of the easiest ways to double your stock. It’s as simple as cutting branches, dipping them in some rooting hormone, and planting in vermiculite or sterile soil.

After a few weeks, you’ll have hydrangea roots and new plants for your flower garden. Here’s how to do it!

Supplies Needed

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

a hand using pruning shears to take hydrangea cuttings for propagation  The Complete Guide to Hydrangea Care
Cutting hydrangea for propagation
a green watering can pre moistening vermiculite to Propagate Hydrangeas in white plastic planters
Moistening vermiculite before propagating hydrangeas

How to Propagate Hydrangeas From Stem Cuttings – Directions

In general, here’s how to propagate hydrangeas from cuttings.

  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 a finger or pencil into sterile soil or damp vermiculite to make a planting hole, then dip the stem cuttings in rooting hormone and insert into a sterile medium or damp vermiculite. Gently close the planting hole.
  5. Water well and allow to drain. Soil should be damp but not drenched.
  6. 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.
A finger Poking hole in vermiculite before planting hydrangea cutting for propagation Propagate Hydrangeas
Poking hole in vermiculite before inserting hydrangea leaf cutting

To give you a visual and go into a little more detail about how to propagate hydrangea cuttings, here are a few more tips as you work.

Make sure you pre-moisten the soil or vermiculite before beginning so you don’t wash out the rooting hormone. And don’t oversaturate it either or it will be too damp to work. Just lightly water the soil or vermiculite so it’s damp but not soggy wet.

Then make a hole with your finger to make room for the cutting. This will help keep the rooting hormone undisturbed on the hydrangea cutting as you plant. I prefer to add the rooting hormone to a separate small container so I don’t contaminate the main jar. It is a more sanitary practice than dipping that hydrangea cutting directly in the jar.

Then dip the cutting in rooting hormone. You might waste a little more of the rooting hormone this way, but it keeps everything clean and sanitary when you go to use the hormone again later.

Dipping cut hydrangea into rooting hormone for hydrangea propagation
Dipping hydrangea leaf cutting in rooting hormone
hydrangea cuttings with cut leaves after planting for propagation -Propagate Hydrangeas
Group of leaf cuttings for hydrangea propagation

Tips for Propagating Hydrangeas from Stem 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 panicle hydrangea
Panicle Hydrangea

Propagating Hydrangeas From Ground Layering

Even easier than the root-cutting method of propagating hydrangeas, is ground layering them. Have you ever done it 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. And it’s super simple to do.

Here’s what you need to do.

Supplies Needed

Minimal supplies are needed for growing more hydrangeas using the ground layering method. Here’s what you need.

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

How to Propagate Hydrangeas From Ground Layering

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

Tips for Propagating Hydrangeas By Ground Layering

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

The ground layering method is my preferred method of hydrangea propagation because you don’t have to closely monitor it and leave the plant to do its thing. However, if I wanted to grow more than a few plants, then I’d opt for rooting hydrangeas via cutting.

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

Propagating Hydrangea Plants By Division

You can also divide hydrangeas as a form of propagation. To learn more about how to do it, I provide step-by-step instruction in this post.

General Tips to Avoid Problems When Propagating Hydrangeas

Don’t get discouraged if you encounter problems while propagating hydrangeas! Challenges like cuttings rotting, failing to root, or slow growth are common.

The key is to identify the issue – whether it’s overwatering, improper technique, or pests – and adjust your approach accordingly. With patience and a willingness to learn from mistakes, you’ll improve your success rate over time.

Common Problems Propagating Hydrangeas From Stem Cuttings

While propagating hydrangeas from stem cuttings is pretty straightforward and easy to do, some home gardeners run into some problems. Here are a few you might encounter.

  • Rotting: The most common issue. Overwatering, overly humid environments, and lack of air circulation around the cuttings can lead to fungal growth and rot.
  • Failure to root: Sometimes cuttings simply don’t develop roots. This can be due to the cutting being taken at the wrong time of year, incorrect use of rooting hormone, or the cuttings drying out.
  • Slow growth: Even successful cuttings might take a while to establish and put on significant new growth.
  • Pests and Diseases: Young cuttings can be vulnerable to pests like aphids or fungal diseases.
close up of snowball hydrangea

Common Problems with Ground Layering

While it’s easy to propagate hydrangeas by ground layering, sometimes home gardeners don’t find success. Here are a few problems you might encounter.

  • Failure to root: Sometimes, even with encouragement, the buried branch might not produce roots at the wounded point.
  • Damage to parent plant: If not done carefully, there’s a slight risk of damaging the main hydrangea plant while bending and securing the branch.
  • Time-consuming: Ground layering generally takes longer than stem cuttings to produce a well-rooted new plant.

General Tips to Avoid Problems Using Either Method

Follow these tips to ensure success when propagating hydrangea plants.

  • Sterile tools: Always use clean, sharp tools to minimize the risk of disease.
  • Proper growing medium: Use well-draining soil or soilless mix for stem cuttings.
  • Optimal conditions: Provide cuttings with warmth, humidity, and indirect sunlight.
  • Patience: Propagation takes time, and even with ideal conditions, not all cuttings will be successful.
purple and blue hydrangea flowers in october

Common Questions About Propagating Hydrangeas

If you’ve never propagated hydrangeas before, here are the most common questions and answers you might find helpful.

What’s the best time of year to propagate hydrangeas?

For most hydrangeas, the ideal time is spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing.

Can I propagate hydrangeas from cuttings taken from a bouquet?

Yes! While success isn’t guaranteed, it’s sometimes possible to root hydrangea stems from bouquets. Choose fresh, healthy stems without open flowers.

Can all types of hydrangeas be propagated?

Yes, most hydrangea varieties can be propagated using stem cuttings, ground layering or division.

close up of hydrangeas that have white and blue flowers

Do hydrangea cuttings need rooting hormone?

While rooting hormone isn’t strictly necessary, it can increase the chances of success and speed up the rooting process. I prefer to use rooting hormone to ensure a higher success rate.

How long does it take hydrangea cuttings to root?

Generally, hydrangea cuttings can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to develop roots, depending on the variety, time of year, and conditions provided.

What’s the difference between softwood and hardwood cuttings?

Softwood cuttings are taken from new, green growth in spring or early summer. Hardwood cuttings are taken from mature, woody stems in late fall or winter.

Can I propagate hydrangeas in water?

Propagating in water is less successful for hydrangeas compared to soil or a soilless mix. Cuttings can rot easily before rooting.

limelight hydrangeas in the flower garden

Final Thoughts on Hydrangea Propagation

I am so excited to get more hydrangeas from the plants I already have. Have you propagated hydrangeas before? What method do you prefer?

Hydrangea propagation offers various methods, each with its advantages and challenges. Stem cuttings, the most common approach, involve rooting sections of healthy stems in a suitable medium. This method is relatively straightforward and boasts high success rates, making it popular among gardeners.

Layering, another option, entails bending a low-growing branch to the ground and covering a portion with soil, encouraging root development. While slower, layering often yields strong, well-established plants. I try to ground layer a few branches each year.

Division, ideal for mature hydrangeas, involves separating the plant into smaller sections, each with its own root system. This method is efficient but requires careful handling to avoid damaging the roots.

Explore these diverse propagation techniques to expand your hydrangea collection and share the beauty of these stunning blooms with fellow enthusiasts.

As an aside, in general, these propagation methods can be used with other plants as well. It’s fun to experiment to see what propagates well and what doesn’t.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear! And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would find it helpful too.

To drill down on more beginner gardening techniques and tips, please read these posts:

Happy Planting!

To learn more about hydrangea propagation, please see North Dakota State University

Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

Enjoy your day! xoxo

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Do you remember when I divided my hydrangea?

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

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  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.

  4. I currently have two branches rooting in water in a soda bottle in my northwest facing kitchen window. A friend shared two stems from one of the new red hydrangeas. After about two weeks, roots are showing on both stems. They are currently only about 1/4” long. I’m guessing w will wait until they are well rooted, and pot them up into small pots and put them in the greenhouse to winter over and bring them out in the spring to plant in the back yard. I am in Zone 8. Is my plan sound? Not sure I should put them directly into the ground this fall.

    1. That’s a good question because if you have a mild winter, they might be fine. It’s probably a safer route to keep it in the greenhouse and plant outside in early spring.

  5. Hey Stacy, thanks for all the tips!
    I have two hydrangeas that I would like to propagate from stems, but the thing is they are both pretty young plants (one of them I only got this spring and it came in a 2 litre pot). The one I planted this year is my pride and joy, she settled in very well and has been blooming nonstop for almost 2 months now. I’m just worried that taking cuttings from it could be exhausting for the young plant and I don’t want to hurt the hydrangea. Do you have any recommendations on how old or big should the hydrangeas be before we start propagating them? Or is it not that big of a deal and I’m just overthinking this haha

    1. Hi Kate!!! I would give it a few years to establish before propagating it. Give it at least a year or two to grow well and establish in your garden so it becomes a stronger plant before trying to propagate it. It will be better for healthier for the plant.