It’s not rare to receive a hydrangea as a gift for Mother’s Day or Thanksgiving. The plant can have large blue, pink, purple, or white blooms, and it’s such a waste to keep such beauty all to yourself indoors. That’s why after some time with a potted hydrangea, you may wonder if you can plant it outdoors in your garden.
A hydrangea houseplant can be planted outside to promote extended growth or when it has outgrown the pot. Gradually introduce your plant to outdoor conditions for a few hours a day for a week. You can transplant potted hydrangeas into the garden soil during cool seasons like spring or early fall.
To provide the required information about planting your hydrangea houseplant outside, this article will discuss some general details you need to know about hydrangeas. I’ll also tell you which hydrangea houseplant you can move into a garden and how to successfully move a hydrangea houseplant from the pot to the garden. Lastly, I’ll list some hydrangea care tips.
Key Information on the Growth Habits of Hydrangeas Outdoors
Few plants make excellent indoor decorations and can also brighten up your outdoor space. Most houseplants can’t survive the freezing temperatures of winter or the scorching heat of the summer.
Various other factors like the wildlife and amount of rainfall in an area can affect how successfully plants can grow outdoors.
Hydrangeas are among the most versatile plants because of the various characteristics discussed below:
Hydrangeas Are Winter Hardy Plants
The hydrangea plant is a shrub that blooms in spring, summer, and early fall. Their blooming period depends on their variety and the climate in the area.
Many hydrangea cultivars can easily be grown outdoors if you live in USDA zones 3-7. However, they can still grow outdoors in slightly cooler climates as long as winter temperatures don’t drop below -30 °F (-34.4 °C).
Some Hydrangeas Can Grow Very Big
When grown under suitable conditions outdoors, hydrangeas can reach up to 15 feet (4.6 m) tall. All they need is moist, well-drained soil and around six hours of sunlight per day. This makes them an excellent option as a background plant for your landscaping.
Potted hydrangea will, however, remain shorter than those in a garden. The pot will restrict the roots’ growth and limit the size of the shoot. Transplanting your hydrangea outdoors is the best option if you want a bigger plant.
Not All Hydrangeas Grow Well in Pots
Various cultivars of hydrangeas have different growth habits. Some varieties, such as Hydrangea macrophylla, make excellent potted or outdoor garden plants. This type has beautiful varieties, including the following:
- Nikko blue
- Endless summer
- Magical series
Hydrangea paniculata (Little lime & Vanille fraise) and Hydrangea serrata (Preziosa) are also popular hydrangea options for pots.
However, some hydrangea species look better outdoors than in pots indoors. This is due to their unique or extensive growth patterns that can’t be confined within the limited spaces of pots. Moreover, it can be challenging to maintain large shrubs in large pots indoors. That’s why it’s best to move them outdoors before they get too big.
Even within the same species, hydrangeas can have tall, medium-sized, or compact varieties. Choose the varieties that will fit well in your garden by asking your plant supplier for the estimated mature spread of the plant.
If you’ve received a hydrangea plant as a present, you may ask the sender for the plant cultivar to determine whether or not they’re better off outdoors.
Which Hydrangea Houseplant Can You Plant Outside?
Hydrangea houseplants can be bought as potted plants from nurseries or as foil-wrapped plant gifts from flower shops or online.
Foil-wrapped hydrangeas are grown for show. That means they are often nurtured to produce one-time large blooms. This accelerated growth can compromise their ability to develop and bloom in the future. As such, their likelihood to flourish and bloom when taken from the foil wrapping and planted outside can be a 50/50 chance.
Hydrangeas sold in foil wraps are grown in greenhouses. This also implies that they may not be winter-hardy, another reason why they may not flourish when planted in a garden.
The final verdict for foil-wrapped hydrangeas is that they are best kept as temporary plants in your home. However, it won’t hurt to try to grow them outside in a garden before they wilt and wither.
Just bear in mind that you may only get a limited number of blooming seasons from foil-wrapped hydrangeas transplanted to the garden.
Potted Hydrangeas (Florist Hydrangeas)
If you have a potted hydrangea inside your house, ensure you put it in a location where there’s bright sunlight during the day. Hydrangeas need plenty of light to grow and bloom. It’s okay to leave it in a cool spot in the house at night.
Your hydrangea houseplant can then be moved and planted in a garden when the weather warms up.
Potted hydrangeas are grown in nurseries at a natural pace. The same is true when you purchase them and nurture them as houseplants. For this reason, potted hydrangeas are a more viable option for planting in a garden than foil-wrapped gift hydrangeas.
That said, you’ll need to prepare your potted hydrangea for the garden environment before transplanting it. Find out how in the next section.
How To Plant Hydrangeas Outdoors
To ensure your hydrangeas can successfully thrive outdoors, there are some things you need to consider:
Observe Proper Timing When Planting Hydrangeas Outdoors
The best time to move a hydrangea plant to the garden is in the spring after the last frost or in the fall before the first frost. Avoid extremely hot or cold months for better chances of your hydrangea thriving and resisting transplant shock.
Acclimate the Hydrangeas to Outdoor Conditions
Before you can plant your hydrangea houseplant outside, acclimate it by bringing it outside for 2-3 hours during the day for a week. Place the plant in a shaded area outdoors like a patio and bring it inside the house at night. Doing this will help the hydrangea adjust to the outdoor environment before transplanting it to the garden soil.
Your plant will be ready for transplant after a week or two.
Choose the Location Carefully
Choose a bright location that receives gentle sunlight in the morning and adequate shade from the mid-day sun.
When deciding the location, you should consider that the shrub will spread outwards and grow to at least 4 feet (1.22 meters) tall. Some varieties can even grow 10-15 feet (3-4.6 m) tall.
Also, ensure you do not plant your hydrangea under a tree, as this can facilitate competition for moisture and nutrients. Beware of extremely windy spots because strong winds can damage hydrangea leaves and blooms.
Amend the Soil When Necessary
Ensure the soil in the planting location has plenty of organic matter. You can add organic compost to improve drainage and water retention. As discussed, hydrangeas flourish best in moist but well-drained soil. Compact soil will retain water longer than necessary, potentially killing your hydrangea within a few weeks due to root rot.
Once all of the considerations discussed above have been addressed, follow the steps below to plant a hydrangea plant in your garden:
- Gently remove the plant from the pot. Tap the sides and the bottom of the plant pot to loosen the root ball. If that does not work, insert a chopstick through the drainage hole to gently push the root ball out. Ensure you do not damage the root ball, as this could kill the hydrangea.
- Measure the length and width of the rootball. The hole should be as deep as the root ball and around 24 inches (60 cm) wider in diameter. These dimensions should be enough to accommodate the lateral roots and ensure the crown of the plant sits on the same level as the ground.
- Position the root ball in the hole and cover it firmly with soil. If you transplanted your hydrangeas in the fall, water it deeply before the first frost and wait until the next spring before watering again. Conversely, a plant transplanted in spring can use deep watering every week or light watering as soon as the upper layer of the soil is dry. This depends on how quickly the soil dries up.
Once your hydrangea houseplant is in the ground, you will need to continue giving the recommended care for a garden hydrangea.
Care Tips for Garden Hydrangeas
While hydrangeas grow easily, they require good care to flourish well. Below are some tips on caring for your outdoor hydrangea plant:
- Water your hydrangea two to three times a week. It’s crucial to keep the soil moist to promote growth. Water daily early in the morning or late in the afternoon during hot and dry weather.
- Mulch the soil around the plant to regulate soil temperature. It can also prevent the soil from drying out too quickly. Consider an organic mulch that will decay over time and feed your plant with essential nutrients in the process.
- Fertilize your plant 1-3 times a year, depending on the soil needs and hydrangea variety. Bigleaf hydrangeas may require up to 3 applications, while smooth hydrangeas will do with a single application.
- Keep your hydrangea healthy to deter pests. Healthy hydrangeas are more resistant to common outdoor plant pests like aphids and spider mites.
- Prune your hydrangea in late summer or early spring, depending on the cultivar. You can also deadhead by removing only the spent flower heads. Both options will promote new growth. If buds are damaged by frost, prune back the stem to a healthy pair of buds. Dead stems should be removed from the ground.
Hydrangeas are popular in gardens and inside homes as potted plants or foil-wrapped gift plants. If you’ve enjoyed your hydrangea houseplant for a while inside the home or the plant has outgrown the pot, you can extend its beauty by planting it in a garden.
It’s possible to plant a hydrangea houseplant outside. Ensure you plant it in a location with plenty of sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoon. As long as the location has rich, moist, and well-draining soil and the plant gets proper care, your hydrangea will grace your garden with lovely blooms.