Hydrangeas are a lot of fun to grow because several varieties of this lovely flowering shrub will produce different colored flowers depending on the acidity of the soil they’re grown in.
These plants can be grown in pots. It is important to start them in a smaller pot at the start, then transfer them to a bigger pot to make sure they don’t suffer from too little or too much water.
Get the Right Plant for Re-Potting
If your living space requires you to keep most of your plants in pots, consider looking for a dwarf hydrangea to give it the best chance at a long life. While at the plant nursery, look for a hearty hydrangea with healthy leaves.
A few flower buds are fine, but a plant in full flower is already working hard.
If you try to repot a flowering hydrangea, you may stress it and limit future growth.
Plan to Size Up
A half-whiskey barrel planter is a great target for your mature hydrangea. However, you don’t want to start a small hydrangea in such a big pot.
To foster strong root growth, start with a pot that is no more than 18 inches in diameter. Make sure it has a functioning drain hole and consider drilling weep holes around the bottom of the planter before you add
- gravel as a drain bed
- excellent, fresh potting soil
- organic matter
Hydrangeas are heavy feeders. Plain garden soil will starve them; the roots may not take off and you could end up with a plant that never thrives.
When settling your hydrangea into the pot, make sure you don’t bury it too deep. You want the plant in the pot to be no deeper in the soil than it was in the pot that you received it in.
You should be able to see the original soil around the stem.
Water: Schedule Regular Checks
The genetic forerunner of the plant we love developed in the temperature forests of Asia.
They need regular watering and very good drainage. While we know hydrangeas as a shrub, there are also vining varieties that can take over trees as they reach for sunlight.
The most common cause of hydrangea death on a patio is over-watering or under-watering.
Make sure you keep to a schedule of checking your hydrangeas to prevent drying out the plant. If the top inch of potting soil is dry, give the plant a sip.
If you get rain and notice standing water, poke through your drain holes until the water runs out. Don’t tip the plant to drain off the water unless you have no other option; you may disturb the root base.
In the smaller pot and with enough (but not too much) water, your hydrangea will grow quickly.
Some plants love physical contact and will happily grow around and over other plants. Hydrangeas don’t like to be crowded.
Don’t put anything else in the pot. Don’t place the pot on a stand where it will bump against a patio cover or another plant.
When first placed in its new pot, your hydrangea may look a bit lonely. Don’t worry about it!
Hydrangeas will fill out their new space as they get plenty of sunlight and water.
Carefully check with your nursery professionals about fertilizing; if you want a specific color of bloom, you may need to start adding acidic or alkaline nutrients in the previous growing season.
Hydrangeas can get quite bushy.
You may be tempted to prune it at the end of the season. Depending on the variety, your hydrangea may flower on 2nd year wood.
If possible, try to avoid pruning until after your hydrangea blooms to avoid wiping out next year’s flowers with an overzealous pruning.
Your hydrangea needs morning sun and afternoon shade. These are a great plant for an eastern garden.
Avoid planting them in shade or under a tree canopy.
Consider getting a planter base that will allow you to roll your hydrangea around so it can get morning sun without burning up in the afternoon.
A Word About Rolling Planters
Each gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. A half whiskey barrel planter can weigh up to 60 pounds.
If you want rolling planters that you can easily move around your patio, invest in a rolling platform with quality casters that you can just set the whiskey barrel planter on.
Trying to move a whiskey barrel planter without wheels or on casters that are too small will eventually destroy the planter.
It will simply pull apart under its own weight.
The chatter of moving it over bricks or a stony aggregate edge will also be hard on the structure of the barrel.
Put really good wheels under it before you add any gravel, soil or plant matter to it. You do not want to try to move or lift this planter once it’s full.
Your hydrangea will probably start out in a small pot, about the size of a quart of ice cream.
Size up to a pot no more than 18 inches across for a year to promote root growth, then move it to a forever pot, such as a whiskey barrel planter, the next season.