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Growing Hydrangeas in pots
We get asked this question again and again so have decided to write an article about it. “Can I grow Hydrangeas in pots?”
The answer to this is yes but there a few steps that need to be done to ensure you get a fantastic show of flowers and provides years of enjoyment.
Firstly the answer is yes, you can plant any Hydrangea in a pot but there a few that grow better in pots due to there dwarf nature.
All Hydrangeas grown in pots will need regular watering to ensure they do not dry out. (Most potted Hydrangeas die from a shortage of water)
What pot to plant a Hydrangea in?
Firstly you want your final planting position to be a larger pot as possible, ideally, you want to pot a hydrangea into a smaller pot first and allow it to establish in the smaller pot and again repeating this maybe a couple of times before planting the Hydrangea into its final pot or planter. An ideal final size pot would be something the size of half a whiskey barrel. If you plant them straight into a large pot they may get sodden roots and start to rot killing the plant.
Choosing the right Hydrangea for your pot?
You can plant any Hydrangea into a pot as mentioned above but there are a few Hydrangeas that seem to grow better in pots. Mop head Hydrangeas (probably the most popular hydrangea) even though they’re not a dwarf variety, many people have success with growing them in pots.
There are two Hydrangeas that only grow to around 3ft (90cm) tall and are ideal for container growing and these are Hydrangea paniculata ‘Early Sensation’ which produces pink or blue flowers but sometimes start off white. The other variety of Hydrangea ‘Selma’, this is a mop head type Hydrangea which produces pink flowers from around October onward.
Choosing the right compost for potted Hydrangeas
The type of compost you use is determined by the type of Hydrangea you have. Mop head Hydrangeas and Lacecap Hydrangeas will flower blue if grown in acidic soil and pink if grown in alkaline soil.
So a general rule of thumb is if you have blue Hydrangeas you need a good quality ericaceous (acid) compost to keep them blue and if you have pink Hydrangeas any good quality shrub compost should be fine. Most other types of Hydrangeas will be fine with good quality shrub compost. All ways check what type of Hydrangeas you have any confirm which type of soil they need.
Wheres the best site for your potted Hydrangea?
Hydrangeas will grow well in partial shade and full sun all though they seem to grow best where they have shade in the morning followed by sun in the afternoon. They will grow in shade but will probably not flower too well.
Feeding potted Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas in pots are the best feed to keep them looking good as they have limited soil and after a year or so would not have any feed content in the compost in the pot
Firstly, never feed Hydrangeas after August. The reason for this is they will be going dormant for winter and this could encourage new growth that will be damaged by the winter frost.
Hydrangeas both in pots and in the ground are the best feed in Summer. One way would be to apply a long term slow-release fertilizer available at any garden centre or online. This can be done once or twice a year, you can also use a general feed such as fish, blood and bone. Be careful not to apply too much fertilizer as it can damage roots and do more harm than good. A safer way to feed Hydrangeas if you are not as experienced is using a liquid fertilizer.
Another way to feed Hydrangeas in pots is by using a general liquid fertilizer but if using this method is best done once a week during the summer to ensure they stay healthy.
Quick note: if your hydrangea foliage is turning yellow it probably needs feeding with Sequestered Iron Plant Tonic as it is a sign of a shortage of Iron trace elements in the soil
Pruning Hydrangeas in pots
Firstly if you have one of the large mop head Hydrangeas like the one pictured to the left which is very popular if not the most popular Hydrangea then you don’t need to prune them, if left to there own devices they will be just fine. If you want to prune them anyway just to tidy them up then you prune them as described below. Lacecap and oak leaf hydrangeas are also pruned in this way.