How to Propagate Hydrangeas From Cuttings

Save Money and Get More Plants

Part of our Hydrangea Growing Guide by Daniel Woodley at DIY Gardening

Here at DIY Gardening, we just love propagating and from experience, we’ve learnt that hydrangeas are one of the easiest plants to grow from cuttings.

A few years ago, we had a 100% success rate and last year a 75% success rate – we know of no other plant that can be propagated this easily, so if you’re new to growing plants from cuttings, start with hydrangeas.

My name is Daniel Woodley, and on this page, I’ll show you how to successfully grow hydrangeas from cuttings taken from a donor plant, it’s easy, cheap and fun for kids too.

Danny Woodley

Daniel Woodley

Growing hydrangeas from cuttings by DIY Gardening

What You’ll Need

To get started, you’ll need:

  • A donor plant to take cuttings from.
  • Secateurs like these.
  • Compost.
  • Grit (and optionally; perlite)
  • Rooting hormone (optional)
  • An empty pot.
  • Something to cover the cutting with, I prefer a cut plastic bottle.

The Best Time to Take Hydrangea Cuttings

Hydrangea cuttings can be taken at any time during the growing season, from spring through to autumn.

Most gardeners take their cuttings from the end of spring to the beginning of autumn.

You can take cuttings later in mid-autumn, provided the hydrangea is still growing, but as the temperature drops, you may find the cuttings struggle to put down roots without a heat mat.

For best results, we recommend taking cuttings from late late-spring to late summer.

Preparation

To improve the success rate of hydrangea propagation, do this first:

  • Water the hydrangea the night before and give it a good soaking, so the shrub absorbs plenty of moisture.
  • Avoid scorching hot days as the hydrangea will be stressed and not at its best.
  • Clean your secateurs with alcohol or something similar to kill off any pathogens or mould. Cuttings are grown in a warm moist environment that is perfect for the spread of mould and pathogens.

How to Choose the Stems

Here’s how to choose the best stems to improve the chances of successful propagation:

  • Avoid hardwood; while these can be propagated, the success rate is lower.
  • Avoid really soft stems that have only recently formed.
  • Choose a semi-ripe stem; ideally, a softwood stem with a couple of months of growth, so it’s not overly soft and weak.
  • Avoid stems that have flowers or buds on them.
  • Choose a stem that has several leaves.
  • Avoid thin, weak or sickly looking stems.
Hydrangea stems

Step by Step Instructions on How to Take Hydrangea Cuttings and Propagate

Here’s how to take hydrangea cuttings and propagate them to create new plants:

1) Fill a 3-6inch wide pot with an even mixture of grit and moist compost (add perlite if you wish to help drainage):

Compost, Perlite and Grit
Closeup showing grit, compost and perlite
Pots with potting mix for hydrangea cuttings

2) Select a stem that is at least 6inches (15cm) long. and has at least 2 sets of leaf nodes on it:

Hydrangea cutting

3) Cut the stem just below a healthy set of leaf nodes and trim off the leaves so roughly two half eaves remain:

Trimmed hydrangea stem cutting

4) Dip the leaf node and about an inch of the stem in rooting hormone (optional):

Hydrangea cutting dipped into hormone gel

5) Insert about 2 inches of the stem into the potting mix, you can make a hole with a sterile instrument such as a small spoon handle if you wish:

Hydrangea cutting in pot

6) Place the cut plastic bottle over the hydrangea cutting and leave the bottle top on:

Place plastic bottles over hydrangea cutting

7) Place the pot in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. A good place is under an outside table or behind a shed. Direct, mid-day sun can literally cook the cutting so avoid sunny locations. Make sure water can drain freely from the pot:

Hydrangea cuttings placed behind wall

8) Check the compost periodically and top it up with water to keep it moist if required. You’ll need to do this more often during spells of hot weather or if the pot is placed on top of a heat mat.

Expected Results and Next Steps

The hydrangea cutting should start to grow roots within 3 weeks, and you’ll probably see some of these on the stem, just above the soil level.

After about 3 weeks, remove the bottle top and leave the pot for another week.

After 4 weeks in total, you should have a well-rooted hydrangea cutting, and you can remove the bottle entirely.

The new plant should be kept watered and, ideally, out of strong sunlight until it’s more established, at which point it can be potted on or planted in the garden.

Hydrangeas grown from cuttings won’t flower in the year they are created and may not flower much or at all in the second year, but by the third year, they should put on a good showing.

Hydrangea grown from cuttings

Recommended Products

I’m currently using these products, go check them out (disclaimer: I may receive a commission from any purchases but I am genuinely using these):

Hydrangea Feed I’m Using:

Best hydrangea feed

Why You Should Use Vitax:

  • Made from slow-release pellets.
  • Hydrangeas only require 2-3 applications per year.
  • Perfect NPK ratio of 8-4-12.
  • Added magnesium to produce larger blooms.
  • Perfect for cuttings once they’ve become established and need a boost.

Perlite:

Perlite

Uses:

  • Helps with water retention in pots and containers.
  • Assists drainage and creates tiny air pockets for roots to easily grow into.
  • Perfect for cuttings and seeds in trays and pots.
  • Add to compost or mix in grit too.

My Secateurs:

Gruntek secateurs for pruning hydrangeas

Key Points:

  • Bypass secateurs.
  • Cuts stems up to 20mm.
  • Super sharp and easy to sharpen 40mm blade.
  • Teflon coated.
  • One of the highest-rated secateurs on Amazon.
  • Ergonomic handle for comfort.

Alternative Methods

Instead of using plastic bottles, the gardener can place the pots in a large plastic container to create a mini-greenhouse or inside an actual greenhouse or similar.

Heat mats can be used to speed up the process and are a great way to propagate late in the season when the temperature drops outside, but the pots will require more frequent watering, and there’s an increased risk of the plants growing leggy. Excess condensation and too much heat can also lead to mould and other unwanted organisms taking hold.

A Warning About Copyright

Some plants are subject to PBR – Plant Breeders Rights.

This is essentially a copyright protection system whereby the original creator of a plant is paid a commission for every plant sold.

As a private individual, you are free to grow these plants from cuttings and seeds for your own private use, but you’ll need permission from the rights holder if you wish to sell them.

More information about PBR can be found here.

More From Daniel Woodley:

Taking hydrangea cuttings and growing new plants is easy and fun. It’s also a great way to educate children and saves you money too. This guide was created by Daniel Woodley here at DIY Gardening and was last updated on the 24th of August, 2021.

Explore more hydrangea growing guides here.

More About Daniel Woodley

Danny Woodley

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