Hydrangea macrophylla 'Niedersachsen'

How to grow hydrangeas

Find out all you need to know about growing, planting and caring for hydrangeas, with help from our Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Do Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do Plant in December


Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Hydrangeas are much-loved deciduous hardy shrubs, some of which are climbers.


The most popular types are mophead and lacecap. Flower colours range from blue, white, red through to pink. If you plant more than one type in the garden you can plan for flowers from April to October. The foliage on some can be dramatic in autumn, most notable is Hydrangea quercifolia.

Take a look at our comprehensive guide on how to grow hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas are much-loved deciduous hardy shrubs, some of which are climbers.
Pink hydrangea

Where to plant hydrangeas

Hydrangeas will thrive in most soil types. However, the pH of the soil will change the colour of the flowers of some varieties. Some plants that usually offer pink flowers will appear blue if the soil is acidic. You can change the colour to blue by feeding with a fertiliser low in phosphorous and high in potassium. Alternatively, you can grow your plant in an ericaceous compost in a pot to keep it blue.

To change a plant from blue to pink is trickier. You will need to raise the pH by adding dolomitic lime. It’s quite common for a plant to produce a few different coloured flowers on one plant in the first year of growth. Few gardeners concern themselves with trying to change the flower colour – but it is interesting to know why plants may vary.

A moist, well-drained soil in a position of dappled shaded is ideal. Avoid south-facing positions, especially if the soil if very dry. For a north-facing wall, grow the reliable climber Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris.

White hydrangea

How to plant hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are best planted in spring or autumn. Never plant them deeper than they were in their original containers.

When planting climbers, train them up the wall onto galvanised wires. After a season of growth they’ll make their own way as they have aerial roots.

Hydrangea cuttings

Propagating hydrangeas

Take softwood cuttings in spring. In the morning look for young, non-flowering shoots that have three sets of leaves. For best results prepare cutting material straight away. Alternatively, keep them in a plastic bag in a cool shed.

Remove the two sets of lower leaves and shorten the stem of the cutting. Cut just below a node. 
Insert the cuttings into a pot of cutting compost. More than one cutting can be placed in a pot as long as the leaves don’t touch. Water in and cover with a clear plastic bag. Ideally keep them in an unheated greenhouse. Once you see clear signs of growth pot on plants, keeping them in a shady spot.

Protect plant over winter by leaving faded flowerheads

Hydrangeas: problem solving

Hydrangeas are very easy to grow and there are few pests and diseases that hinder them. Container-grown specimens may be prone to vine weevil attack and some plants will be damaged by frost. To avoid frost damage, leave the faded flowerheads on the plant and prune at the correct time.

How to prune hydrangea

Caring for hydrangeas

As there’s such a wide range of hydrangeas, it’s important to note that one pruning technique does not suit all. Climbing types are pruned in summer after flowering. Others are pruning in spring or late autumn.

The faded blooms of hydrangeas are attractive in the winter months. Ideally, leave them on the plant over winter as on some types this protects the plant from frost damage.

When pruning mophead types it’s vital that you don’t deadhead below the top set of plump buds that are forming under the flower head. This is where the new flowers will form. Cut plants back to just above these fat buds.

Lacecap hydrangeas are tough so can stand deadheading in autumn. Both mophead and lacecap types will benefit if some of the oldest stems are cut back completely at the base of the plant. This will encourage new stems and should be done in February.

Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea arborescens flower on the current season’s growth so they should be pruned in spring. Prune old stems back to four buds. If you avoid pruning hydrangeas the flowers will soon get smaller and smaller.

Watch Monty’s tips for pruning different types of hydrangea here.

Changing white flowers

White hydrangeas will always remain that way. The flower colour can’t be changed by the growing conditions.

Watering can
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Great hydrangeas to grow:

  • Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ – lime-green clusters of flowers from July to September. Height of 1.5m
  • Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris – climber that self-clings. Grows almost anywhere including a north-facing wall. White flowers from June to August. Height 15m
  • Hydrangea ‘Enziandom’ – produces some of the deepest blue flowers when grown on an acid soil. Flowers from July to October. Height 2m
  • Hydrangea arborescens subsp. discolor ‘Sterilis’’ – compact shrub covered in elegant creamy-white flower heads from July to September. Watch Monty Don planting one in dappled shade, in his garden

Discover many other hydrangea varieties to grow here