Have you ever paused for a moment and pondered "When to plant hydrangeas?" and the best time to do so? The arrival of autumn comes with a cold spell, temperature swings, and daytime shortening, putting them in a precarious situation. Fortunately, your plant can still bear these slight inconveniences if not beyond the deadliest deadline. So gear up, and let's explore the best time to plant hydrangeas!
Why Is It Important to Know When to Plant a Hydrangea?
Knowing when is the best time to plant hydrangeas will save you time and resources to tend your garden. Growing it too late or early in the season could lead to poor root establishment, loss of vigor, defoliation, delayed flowering, disease susceptibility, and even death–all these are due to external factors, such as freezing spells.
When Is the Best Time to Plant Hydrangeas?
If you live in a temperate zone, where 4 seasons are distinct, there are two periods of the year when to plant hydrangea:
Spring Hydrangea Planting
The answer to your question, 'When is the best time of year to plant hydrangeas?' is spring! The gradual increase in temperature, solar radiation, and rainfall is ideal for plant development – both above-ground and underground parts, for new transplants. This will help them produce sufficient feeder roots and leaf numbers, which is necessary to stock energy for bolting flowers.
Planting Hydrangeas in Fall
Too late for spring planting? No worries! Planting hydrangeas in fall is your alternative. Both seasons have somewhat similar temperature and lighting conditions. However, crop them in your garden a few weeks before the first frost so their roots can get a deep grip from the ground.
When to Plant Hydrangeas by Type
After answering your question, "When can you plant hydrangeas?" choosing the varieties or species adapted to your zone is the key to climate-savvy gardening, minimizing losses of precious resources like water, time, and garden maintenance costs:
Bushy hydrangeas are usually a gardener's hot picks to fill bare spaces in your garden, making it look more inviting and adding a focal point to the landscape. Plus, we didn't mention the striking flowers when in full bloom!
- Hydrangea arborescens – This variety is versatile–thriving in full and partial light. However, it is intolerant to excessive drought and extreme cold. Prune close to the ground in late winter or spring to induce new flower-bearing branches!
- Hydrangea macrophylla – Acidity is not a problem as it can thrive in acidic and alkaline soil. As a bonus, enjoy its enchanting red and blue colors depending on soil pH! Apart from the light pruning and regular watering, you are good to go.
- Hydrangea paniculata – If you ask where is the best place to plant hydrangeas of this kind, it does not matter! It will stay happy with full sun to part shade and can tolerate unforgiving winters. Little pruning is required in spring to stimulate brand-new shoots.
- Hydrangea quercifolia – Native to the US, this species tolerates various conditions, from part to full sun or from warm to cold climates. Your only task is to trim damaged shoots and keep the soil moist in the event of drought.
- Hydrangea serrata – The smallest among the rest, Hydrangea serrata is the most suitable for house or container growing. Snip out unsightly leaves and branches and keep them in moderate light to induce lilac to magenta flowers in spring!
At least 80 species of hydrangeas are known to science today, and that does not include the interspecific hybrids and varieties! If you want to know more about Hydrangea species, check out our PlantIn ID section on our website. You will find an extensive list, including our seasoned experts' care tips and relevant information!
If you want to add a touch of nature to your bare wall, plant the following trailing species next to it!
- Hydrangea petiolaris – Select sites that provide moist, well-drained soils. As it climbs, wiring or trellising is recommended. You can use wooden or aluminum rods to train this climbing variety. Do not forget to prune dead vines in late winter or spring pruning!
- Hydrangea seemannii – While this is a frost-hardy variety, prolonged biting cold can also harm its tissues. Hence, there is a need for warm refuge indoors or in the greenhouse, or opt for a temperate varies! It performs better in hotter climates with varying sunlight conditions and friable, organic-rich soil.
- Hydrangea serratifolia – This beautiful white-flowered variety prefers a sheltered spot to mimic its understory habitat in South America. Once its flowers are shed, it is a signal to tidy up its look by pruning dead flower stalks. If planted next to a wall, training is optional.
- Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris – This densely growing species is great for walls because it typically blooms at once, displaying its glorious flowers! Just do not forget the most crucial requirement–good-draining, loamy soil, and diffused light.
- Hydrangea petiolaris var. ovalifolia – To successfully grow this cultivar, enrich the soil with lots of plant or animal-based materials such as compost or coco peat. Avoid planting too deep to avoid fungal diseases, and ensure a sturdy wall and support poles are placed to facilitate climbing.
Planting Hydrangeas in Pots
Slip the old pot in one go to not damage the roots. If you find a circling root system, cut a few bits and plant it on a bigger planter–terracotta, plastic, or a decorative glazed pot. Any type of container will do as long bottom holes are present. High-quality soil infused with well-rotted manure and coarse materials like perlite or bark is also crucial for pot hydrangeas.
Planted Hydrangea to In-Ground
Selecting the best site where to plant hydrangea bush is a prerequisite since the plant will be permanently fixed to the area. Partially shaded walls, garden corners, and tall plants are the ideal spots for planting since they offer slight shade. If drainage is an issue, add chunky materials like sand, bark, or compost to improve the soil structure.
When to Plant Hydrangeas by Zone
There is a slight variation of planting dates in each zone. For this reason, to specifically answer "when do you plant hydrangeas," the following guide should help you:
- Zone 3 – Considered to have the harshest winters among other zones, planting hydrangeas in Zone 3 is still possible. You want to keep them warm and cozy until the last week of May, 2 weeks after the last day of frost is forecasted. For fall planting, do not postpone until later than the last week of August.
- Zone 4 – If you live in the northern states, mid-May is the answer to "when to plant hydrangea bush" in spring. Otherwise, you can delay it a bit until the first week of September, a few weeks before the first expected frost.
- Zone 5 – This growing zone is more forgiving to hydrangeas, permitting early and late planting. The expected last frost day is usually the 7th to 20th of April, so count 1-2 weeks after that to be safe. If you prefer fall planting, the latest date is the last week of September.
- Zone 6 – Zone 6 is similar to the previous zone, but it stretches from the inner western to the eastern states. Considering its slight variation, the earliest you can plant hydrangeas is around the mid to last week of April, while the latest is the first week of October.
- Zone 7 – If you wonder, "Can you plant hydrangeas in the fall," in Zone 7, you can do so! Two weeks before Halloween, start planting your hydrangeas, as the expected frost is forecasted to grip on this date, especially in the mountainous cities.
- Zone 8 – The hydrangeas grown in this region are quite lucky, for the climatic area is the Goldilocks zone. You can plant as early as the last week of March or as late as October (3rd or 4th week)!
- Zone 9 – This region's average temperature can still drop below freezing in winter, so frost is still a concern. If you are too excited to set out your plant outdoors, you better do it in early or mid-March. As soon as the heat gets milder in fall, you can postpone it a few months later but not beyond early November.
- Zone 10 – The risk of frost is minimal, so you can plant it all year round. No need for planting planning at all!
Care Tips After Planting Hydrangeas
Most hydrangea species are typically undemanding and low-maintenance plants. However, here are some important notes you should remember!
- Watering – Sounds like a piece of cake? Well, it is! Just keep the soil moist during the dry spell. In the rainy season, you can, of course, skip the watering job. Avoid wetting the leaves in the summer to prevent fungal diseases and heat stress.
- Fertilizing – Hydrangeas can tolerate poor soil but appreciate a light drip of nutrients. Compost, earthworm castings, bat guano, or slow-release fertilizer granules–scattered on the soil in spring help stimulate leaf growth and flower production in the season!
- Pruning – It is a fundamental task to shave off some of your hydrangea's dead twigs and vines to maintain its shape, prevent diseases, avoid cold damage, and promote new growth. It is best done in spring, although autumn pruning is also recommended for defoliating varieties.
- Deadheading – To promote new flower growth, dead inflorescence should be removed. A view with brown flowers is depressing, so we want them out! This gardening operation is often performed after the first blooming cycle in mid-summer to early fall.
- Transplanting – Planning to give your plant a new home? Whether you want to get hydrangea into the soil or upsize its pot, the trick is preserving the roots to prevent dramatic yellowing. Trim not more than a third of the compact roots. Do it slowly but surely!
Where Is the Best Place to Plant a Hydrangea?
Most hydrangeas are pretty adaptable to the sun's intensity. However, it is better to get it in the ground where it receives partial lighting, such as next to a wall, covered porch, or other tall plants.
Do Hydrangeas Grow Better in Pots or in the Ground?
Both growing conditions are actually the same, but it is best to plant non-climbing and shorter varieties in pots. Also, potted plants may thirst for more water than in-ground ones because of limited root spread. Hence, remember to water!
When Is It Too Late to Plant Hydrangea?
The exact date may vary depending on which zone you live in. However, the golden rule is to plant your hydrangeas 2-3 weeks before the fall frost date or 2-3 weeks after the spring frost.