How To Grow Hydrangeas In Pots

How To Grow Hydrangeas In Pots

Want to grow hydrangeas in pots but not sure where to start? Then this is the guide for you, read on to find out all you know about growing hydrangeas in pots.

How To Grow Hydrangeas In Pots

All hydrangeas can be grown in pots but dwarf varieties are more suited to the size constraints that inevitably come with pot-grown plants.

Dwarf varieties of hydrangea still produce the same ‘mop head’ flowers but commonly only grow to a metre tall rather than the huge bushes regular hydrangea can grow into.

So What Variety Then?

There are loads of dwarf varieties of hydrangea suitable for growing in pots but here are a few of my favourites.

Candybelle Bubblegum

Candybelle Bubblegum
Candybelle Bubblegum

Large, domed clusters of bubblegum-pink flowers top the stout stems of this relatively compact hydrangea. A tough, attractive and versatile plant, it is ideal for pots or borders – and the flower heads could even be cut for the vase.

Find It Here

‘Leuchtfeuer’

'Leuchtfeuer'
‘Leuchtfeuer’

Ranging from a rich dark rose to deep purple, the mophead blooms of Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Leuchtfeuer’ almost resemble the firelight for which they are named after. This hardy shrub is easy to grow and will prefer an alkaline soil to help keep its colours true during the summer months, right through to the autumn. 

Find It here

Getting The Right Pot

After selecting the right variety of hydrangea to grow you then need to select the right pot to grow them in. This is going to be a large pot, even dwarf hydrangeas are big plants and will require a very large pot.

A pot of the size required for hydrangeas is a sizeable Investment in of itself so it is crucial you buy the right pot.

A plastic pot, though not looking as nice will last a long time, be cheaper and almost just as importantly will be a lot lighter than other pots.

Stone pots will be incredibly expensive at the size required, but will look amazing and if you have the budget then I say go for it.

Terracotta pots will sit somewhere in between but can have a habit of cracking in cold winters.

Something I would recommend is a recycled whiskey barrel, there are lots of people selling these online as plant pots. They look amazing and should last a long time and are much more affordable than traditional pots.

Reclaimed Whiskey Barrel Planters
Reclaimed Whiskey Barrel Planters

You can find the whiskey barrels on Etsy here.

Choosing The Right Compost

Now we have our hydrangea and we have our pot, the next question is what compost to use? Well, when it comes to hydrangeas that is not a simple answer.

This is because hydrangeas will change flower colour depending on the soil they are grown in. In general, white hydrangeas stay white, although they can end up with a tinge on the end of the tips of the flowers.

But blue, pink, purple and red hydrangeas can all change colour and what changes the colour is the acidity of the soil they are grown in.

Hydrangeas grown in acidic soil tend to flower blue or a lilac/purple colour and even a pink hydrangea planted in acidic soil will turn blue over time.

So if you are planting a blue or purple hydrangea and want it to stay this colour then plant it in ericaceous compost.

If you are planting a pink, white or red hydrangea and want it to stay this colour then use regular high-quality compost. Something like a John Innes No 3 is always a safe bet.

Choosing The Right Spot

We are getting there, we have our plant, pot and compost so now we just need to decide where in the garden to put it.

Hydrangeas ideally like a spot with plenty of sun although they can dry out quickly in pots if exposed to the sun all day so partial shade is not disastrous.

Some hydrangeas can be susceptible to wind damage so for these varieties a bit of shelter is advised.

Apart from that, you can really put them anywhere, so just let your inner garden designer run wild!

Problems With Hydrangeas In Pots?

Drying Out

The number one problem with hydrangeas in pots is the plant drying out. Large hydrangeas are very thirsty and hydrangeas are also a plant that despises drying out.

As you can probably guess this is a recipe for disaster when planted in a pot. So when growing hydrangeas in pots it is essential that you really keep on top of watering and never let the plant dry out.

Lack Of Nutrients

Again, large plants in pots will use up all of the goodness in the soil quickly, just as they quickly suck up all the water in the soil.

For this reason, it is important to keep pot-grown hydrangeas well fed. There are specialist hydrangea feeds you can buy but a multi-purpose plant feed will work almost as well.

Hydrangea Feed
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Poor Drainage

Just as not enough water is a problem too much of a good thing can also be a problem. If your pot does not have adequate drainage then water will build up and eventually harm the plant.

Make sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom and that it is slightly lifted off the ground if it is a flat bottom pot.

You can get little feet just for this purpose or you can also stand it up on something like bricks.

Improves Drainage
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Benefits Of Growing Hydrangeas In Pots?

While there are drawbacks to growing hydrangeas in pots there are also advantages.

Control Colour of Flowers

As we mentioned earlier red, pink, blue and purple hydrangeas can colour change depending on the acidity of your soil.

While you can use this to your advantage to purposefully change the colour of your plant sit can also happen accidentally to hydrangeas planted in the ground

This is because it can be very difficult to change the ph level of your soil when it is not in a controlled space like a pot.

Growing in a pot changes this and makes it much easier to control the ph level of your soil and therefore the colour of your hydrangeas.

Can Grow Even If You Have Poor Soil

Hydrangeas will struggle to grow well in heavy clay soils, the drainage is just not good enough for them and they usually die off over winter.

This can be very hard to fix, particularly on really heavy clay soils.

Growing hydrangeas in pots give you the opportunity to grow this wonderful flower even if your garden soil is of the worst quality.

Can Provide Colour To Drab Spots

Do you have a tarmac or concrete wasteland, or maybe a spot of paving that looks a little drab? Large potted plants like hydrangeas can really bring this area to life and make it feel much more like a garden rather than a carpark.

Helps Control The Size Of The Plant

Hydrangeas can get huge and unwieldy when grown in the soil. Growing them in pots helps prevent this.

This is because the root is limited in size by the pot which will, in turn, limit the overall size of the plant.