Thursday, July 21, 2011

Make Your Own Hydrangeas

I was down at my mom's over the last couple of days, visiting with family, eating well, and admiring her hydrangeas.

I also made my second annual attempt to propogate some of them, so we, too, can one day have a summer yard full of floppy blue, pink, and purple flowers.  I tried two different batches of 10 last year, and we have three new established plants to show for it.  Well, definitely two.  The third is still kicking, but not growing as well as the rest.  I still have faith it will pull through, though.

There are lots of instructions out there for how to propagate hydrangeas, and little consensus.  The one point everyone seems to agree on it that it's easy to do.  Whether you succeed or not, it requires little effort or cost, which is my kind of project.  Also, the debate over how best to propagate tells me that there's more than one "right" way to do it.  That means I'm less likely to really screw something up.  (Doesn't it?) 

Here's what you need:
a bunch of small pots (I used those our vegetable seedlings came in, and a few others I had around)
a potting soil with perlite in it (we use something called Coast of Maine around here)
a hydrangea bush to cut from (it's best to have permission, but I'll admit I've snipped without asking)
rooting hormone (everyone says this is optional, but I figure I might as well take all the help I can get)
scissors or clippers
a wet paper towel or cup of water
1. Select a branch that hasn't flowered this year.  Lots of experts recommend looking for new growth.  The root hormone directions recommend finding a stem with some wood (established growth) on it. 
2. Snip off the lowest leaves.  The roots will form from those nodes.
3. Snip off the newest growth at the top, because that takes energy away from developing roots. 
4. Cut the remaining leaves in half.  Again, this reduces energy being used to support the big leaves.
5. Dip a stem in water, and then in rooting hormone.  Meanwhile, create a hole with a pencil or bare branch, so the rooting hormone doesn't slide off when you place it in the soil.  Pat the soil down to secure the plant. 

It's that easy.  They should be kept in the shade, and misted regularly for the first week, and occasionally thereafter, making sure they don't get too dry, or too wet.  They should root in about three weeks.  We planted our survivors (5 out of 20) in the ground last fall, but only three remain.  The hydrangea expert I saw (and wrote about) back in May said that he keeps newly propagated plants in the garage or shed over the winter, and puts them in the ground in the spring, which we will do this time around. (** Update: Overwintering in the shed didn't work for me.  I'm going to stick with the modest results I get planting them late summer/early fall from now on.)  We still have the three clippings he gave us from Heritage Gardens, and at least one of them appears to be doing great.   (I'll prove it to you.  They're right there at the bottom of this photo.)
We'll have to wait and see how things look next spring. In the meantime, I hope my mom will let me keep bringing home big bouquets to enjoy.
Have you ever tried to propagate hydrangeas, or something else?  Do you have any tips to share?  If you've never tried, why not give it a try?

P.S. I linked up this post on Remodelaholic.  Check out the other creative ideas out there.


Tortla Dot said...

Your photos are great! Please keep us posted on the results. I took some hydrangea blossoms on the plane to Florida this week. Hydrated overnight and inserted in vials of water, they stayed well. Not sure I had to empty the water out before screening, but it was very manageable. They survived the black flaps of the conveyor belt screening machine. Convenient restrooms made refilling the vials easy. The flowers seem to be enjoying their new home by my kitchen sink. Great reminder of a Cape Cod family visit!


I have a n Endless Summer Hydrangea, which I was disappointed in the first few years. This year; however it has really taken off. They can take several years to get well established. Nice tutorial.

Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma said...

Thanks for the tutorial! What zone are you in?

{pinning this to my garden inspiration folder}

Pink Overalls @DIY Home Staging said...

Great tutorial! Yes, I've propagated hydrangeas, and found that they are one of the easiest plants to get rooted. They grow quite fast and are large shrubs in just a couple years. They're fun to give away as "passalong plants."

I never heard that tip about trimming back the leaves to give the plant less work to do. Makes sense. Thanks so much, and good luck!