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How to Propagate Hydrangeas From Cuttings

Kelly Lehman is the owner of Cranbury Fields Flower Farm and shows everyday gardeners how to grow amazing flowers on her YouTube channel.

Some hydrangea cuttings.

Some hydrangea cuttings.

How to Grow Hydrangeas From Cuttings

It's super easy to propagate your hydrangeas and make more plants from the original plants that you already have growing in your garden—and I'm going to show you how to do just that in these simple steps.

In This Article

  1. When Should You Take Hydrangea Cuttings?
  2. How to Take a Hydrangea Cutting
  3. How to Start or Root a Cutting

When Should You Take Hydrangea Cuttings?

A lot of gardeners love to do this process in spring because the plant's just getting started—it's got a lot of energy and new growth that's sprouting. But you can actually do this process all the way through early fall.

I like to do this early morning. It's really important that you don't come out to your hydrangea plant in the middle of the day, because it'll be exhausted with that sun beating down on it. So, the best time to cut it is in early morning. I know some other gardeners like to do it like late afternoon if they're not morning people, but I find that early morning is best.

You can see the leaf nodes here.

You can see the leaf nodes here.

How to Take a Hydrangea Cutting

These are the steps that I took:

Step 1: Choose a Stem

Choose a hydrangea stem. A really nice hydrangea stem to do a cutting from would be one that doesn't have a flower and is still fresh green. It wouldn't have that real woody base, because the stem would still be flexible and have that fresh, green new growth.

Step 2: Cut It Down

Now, you're going to cut down. I like to cut about 4 inches from the top. I know some people do a lot shorter, but for some reason, it seems that I get better results when I have at least 4 inches. Cut beneath a set of leaf nodes. You're going to strip off or just cut off that first set of leaves.

Step 3: Trim the Leaves

You're going to leave these leaves intact, but you're going to cut them in half because you don't want to have that much of a leaf when you're propagating. Some people cut off even more of the leaf—they'll shave down (and in this next step, too)—but I seem to have better luck when I have a few sets of leaves. However, I do give them a little trimming.

Step 4: Put the Cutting in Water

Make sure that you put this cutting right in water, because if you go ahead and trim a whole bunch more of these and leave them all out of the water right now, a lot of times they'll scab over. I think it delays that whole rooting process. So, put these guys in some water.

How to Start or Root a Cutting

Here's exactly the steps that I use:

Step 1: Prepare a Container or Tray

Take either a container or some planting trays. Planting trays are great because a lot of times they'll already have pre-drilled holes on the bottom of them, which is terrific.

You can use a plastic container, but make sure that you have a drainage system. If you don't have a drainage system, all that water is going to stay there, and it's going to wind up rotting out those roots.

You could just take a container and put a smaller seed tray in there on top of either some rocks or some perlite to give it a little bit of height. Then, as the water drains out of there, it'll just go into the rocks that are laying on the bottom of the space (if you don't want to do these little holes).

You could also drill a whole bunch of little holes in the bottom of a plastic bin.

Step 2: Add a Medium Like Perlite or Vermiculite

What I'll do is I'll add some perlite. This is a product that helps you keep moisture in your potted plants. Since it keeps that moisture trapped in, it's a good medium to do some of your cuttings. But I also use some vermiculite. I use half perlite and half vermiculite, but you don't have to do half and half. You can just do all vermiculite or you can do all perlite.

Both of these mediums are very "loosey-goosey": They're not packed tight. Sometimes people will do this process with a garden soil, and the garden soil is really, really packed tight. Then the roots don't come out. Sometimes you experience root rot before they get a chance to develop.

Some people like to use potting mix that's loose—it's totally up to you. Just don't use a potting mix that has a lot of fertilizers, because sometimes these roots don't like to have all those harsh fertilizers on them.

Step 3: Add Some Water

Make sure that you water in this medium first. When you add some water, really soak the medium, knowing that the excess water is going to drain out of the bottom.

Step 4: Use Rooting Hormone

Now that you have the medium nice and saturated, let it drain out a bit and get your rooting hormone ready.

There's tons of different rooting hormones available at your gardening centers. Some people also like to use cinnamon or honey, but I find that the real rooting hormones that you find in your garden centers seem to work a little bit faster for me.

Sprinkle the rooting hormone on a little piece of plastic, a paper plate, or a garden scrap. You never want to dip your plant directly into the rooting hormone jar because it can infect it. A whole bunch of things that you don't want to wind up in the bottle will wind up in there. So, sprinkle the rooting hormone somewhere else, to dip the cutting in.

Take a wet cutting and dip it in the hormone. Then, give the leaves a little cut. Sometimes, if I cut the stem a little bit long, I cut it a little shorter just to make sure that it has a fresh cut there and doesn't dry out.

Dip it in some water just to make sure that you have something that helps that rooting hormone adhere to it. That's just going to kick start that rooting process.

A cutting in the medium.

A cutting in the medium.

Step 5: Put the Cutting in the Medium

Use your finger to make a hole in the medium. Pop the cutting right in and cover it.

The mediums should kind of feel like sand—very loose instead of being packed down (which would make those roots have a hard time coming through).

Make sure your cuttings have a lot of space between them in the medium. You don't want to have any kind of mold issues.

Step 7: Cover and Place in Partial Shade

Cover it up—you want to have that greenhouse effect on it. It's really important at this stage that you don't leave it out in direct sunlight, because your plants will bake. Put it in a spot in your garden or near your garage—somewhere not in direct sunlight. It should be in partial shade or in a spot where it'll get some dappled sunlight.

Cuttings in the container.

Cuttings in the container.

Use a cover for a greenhouse effect.

Use a cover for a greenhouse effect.

Step 8: Continue to Moisten the Medium

Make sure that you continue to moisten the medium. I'll come out every two or three days and just touch it. If it feels like it's drying out, I'll give it a shot of water and then make sure that the bottom drains out.

Usually in about five or six weeks, you can start seeing some of those gorgeous, beautiful roots.

Step 9: Transplant

After you have some stronger roots, you're going to transplant them into some potting soil, into some other pots. Let them get a little bit stronger. Then, put them in your garden at least six weeks before the ground freezes.

Best of Luck With Your Garden!

Please feel free to say hi, leave me a comment or ask a garden question below—I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for joining me in this article, and I will see you in the next one.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Kelly Lehman