Grow a New Hydrangea Plant From the One You Have

by dustytoes

It's easy to start a new hydrangea bush from one that is already established and this is my personal experience with propagating this perennial.

Buying hydrangea plants or shrubs can be expensive. If I need a special perennial for the yard I try to wait until the end of the growing season to buy them on sale, but even then they can cost a lot.

If you have the patience to start a hydrangea from one already established in your yard, you can save a bunch of money and within a year or two that plant will be the size of the ones for sale in local nurseries.

Maybe a neighbor or relative who already has established plants would offer to let you start one from theirs. I find that cuttings are a bit more difficult to do, so take many. Or go into their yard with them and look for hanging branches that are already rooted.

Propagating Hydrangeas is Easy

Start a new shrub from a low-lying branch of an existing plant.


Do you have a favorite hydrangea shrub in the yard and wish you could have another just like it?  With the ground root layering technique, propagating hydrangeas is possible.

These days most people are looking for ways to save money and anyone who loves to garden knows that buying new plants can be pricey.

When it comes to gardening and beautifying your yard there are ways to propagate, or start one plant from another, that will save you money.  If you are willing to do a bit of work I want to tell you how to start your own little hydrangea bush from an established plant.

(The plant in the picture is the original, established one that I used to grow another.)

The Macrophylla Hydrangea Variety Has Drooping Stems

This type is perfect for the root layering method of propagation.
Macrophylla hydrangea
Macrophylla hydrangea

The new hydrangea plant can grow in a pot as well.

Control the blue flower color by keeping the soil acidic (only works for certain types).
HDR WHISKEY BARREL PLANTERSuncast 1606NP36 Resin Planter, Blue/...

Let The Branches and Stems Grow Close to the Ground.

These low-lying stems will be the beginnings of your new plants.

The low hanging branches of your hydrangea bush is where you will start the new plants.

If you check around the base of your hydrnagea shrub, you may already find stems that have rooted themselves into the mulch or dirt all on their own.  Gently tug on them to see if they are attached, but don't pull them out of the soil.  They can appear to be part of the bush but will be growing far enough away from the base of the plant to be on their own.

If you don't find any stems that are rooted, you can help them root by following my instructions below.  If they are already rooted, all the better!

If The Main Plant Does Not Have Rooted Low Stems

You'll have to help it along by holding down the stem with a rock or other object.
Hold the stem to the ground with a rock

Propagate In Spring When There is New Growth on the Main Shrub

During the growing season the roots will have time to expand and get strong.

Check around the base of the plants and choose any stem that is low enough to be held down to the ground by a rock or some other heavy object.  Don't make it too heavy, but just right for keeping the stem touching the ground.  

If the stem you choose has a bud or flower on it, cut it off.  You will want the stem to put it's energy into becoming a separate, strong plant and not into growing a bloom.

It's a good idea to do this in Spring so the stem can send out new roots all summer.  Be sure to keep it watered.

Good Roots Need to Be Established

Carefully pull on the stem where the new roots will grow to check for a good root system.  Once the stem has grown plenty of it's own roots, cut the stem to separate it from the main bush.  

Leave it right in the ground, to grow on it's own for couple of weeks to become more established.

Once the little separate plant seems ready for it's own spot, you can go ahead and dig it up.  Carefully dig it up - don't just pull it - keep the dirt around those roots.

Only do this if there is still some growing time left in the season.

If it's getting close to Fall with frosts and cold weather looming, I would leave it where it is over the winter.  Once Spring brings good warm weather the new little plant will be ready for a new spot in the yard.

The baby plant I dug up already had rooted on it's own so I planted it in Fall 2009.  About 6 months later, in April 2010, I saw new growth beginning.  (See my photos below).

Hydrangeas Blue is my gardening blog.

I write about my personal experience with growing hydrangeas and vegetable gardening.
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April 2010 - The newly planted shrub and attached old branch that was part of the first bush.

New Little Plant

September 2010

Within a few months lots of new growth has appeared on the "baby" plant.
Growing the First Year
Growing the First Year

No Flowers The First Year

But now the new bush is going to bloom!

Don't expect much the first season it grows on it's own (photos above).  It will be getting established with a good root system and the above ground look may not be too impressive.  My plant had two long stalks.  I add bonemeal to the soil, and fertilize lightly with fish emulsion.  Make sure it has enough water but not too much.  If you see it getting wilty, give it a drink.  I did not cut it back at all for winter as hydrangeas don't need pruning.

The photo below is the "baby" plant with lots of blue flowers in Summer 2011.  As you can see it has the same blue flowers as it's "mom", although they are smaller.


In 2011 I Had a Blooming Hydrangea Bush!

Hydrangeas are fast growing and hardy.
Propagated Hydrangea Shrub
Propagated Hydrangea Shrub
My photo

A Beautiful New Addition To The Yard

It didn't cost me a thing

Now I have a nice size hydrangea shrub ready to bloom next to the front steps.  It didn't cost me a thing, just some time spent digging and watering.  Hydrangeas are hardy and this one was buried under many feet of snow all winter only to come back looking better than before.

Next year it will be even more spectacular.

This is a good way to propagate many types of plants, so always check the low hanging stems if you like the idea of expanding your gardens for free.

Learn More About Growing Beautiful Hydrangeas

The light green, lacy flower of the Limelight hydrangea is popular for adding beauty to any landscape, and is often the flower of choice for weddings.
Hydrangea shrubs can be a beautiful and worthwhile investment in your home landscape.
Updated: 05/09/2018, dustytoes
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dustytoes on 08/23/2012

@Katiem2 Just remember, if you buy and plant a blue one, it will only remain blue if your soil has a low pH and is acidic. If not, it will become pink.

katiem2 on 08/23/2012

Ah Ha Ah Ha, now I've come full circle, I know all there is to know about hydrangeas. I like the blue ones. I def must plant the blue, my house is blue, they would accent each other so well. :)K

Amy-Lynn on 06/21/2012

Dustytoes, this was just the information I needed to propagate my hydrangea. Your instructions were excellent. What a clever girl you are! Thank you.

SPB on 10/06/2011

I have a Hydrangeas that has changed colors all summer long. I'm not sure if this is natural, but at the moment, it's ruby red. I would love to be able to take a cutting! Thanks for the how-to!

MugTreasuresByBrenda on 07/27/2011

I love hydrangeas; we have some white bushes here that may be hydrangeas -- we're not certain and have always called them Snow Balls.

lakeerieartists on 06/12/2011

Pam, this is really interesting information for me. My parents have a really large hydrangea bush in their front yard, and we do not have one, but I could take a piece of theirs to start one in our yard. We have some areas that could use a bush, but I haven't known what to put there. Thanks for the thorough article.

poutgine on 06/12/2011

Love your clear explanation on this subject.

kimbesa on 06/11/2011

Love this! I'm having hydrangeas in my next garden, to back up the peonies...

Jimmie on 06/11/2011

I appreciate your very clear how-tos. Great diagram! I am a fan of hydrangeas, and they are blooming all over west TN now.

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