How To Plant Hydrangeas In Ground [ Full Guide ]

Hydrangeas are beloved for their stunning blooms and are popular in gardens across the world due to their beauty and versatility. Planting hydrangeas in the ground is a relatively simple process, but it requires attention to detail to ensure that the plants thrive. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the step-by-step process of planting hydrangeas in the ground, from selecting the right location to choosing the proper variety and preparing the soil. By following these instructions, you can enjoy the beauty of hydrangeas in your own garden for years to come.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Hydrangeas In Ground

  1. Choose the Right Location: Select a location with well-draining soil, partial shade, and protection from harsh afternoon sun.

  2. Prepare the Soil: Ensure the soil is rich in organic matter, with a slightly acidic pH.

  3. Select the Proper Variety: Choose a hydrangea variety that is suitable for your climate.

  4. Purchase Healthy Plants: Look for healthy, well-established hydrangea plants from a reputable nursery.

  5. Planting: Dig a hole, place the hydrangea in the ground, and backfill with soil. Water thoroughly after planting.

  6. Mulch and Water: Add mulch around the plant and maintain regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist.

Choosing The Right Location For Planting Hydrangeas

When selecting the location for planting hydrangeas, it’s important to consider several factors that will contribute to the health and vitality of the plants.

Light Requirements

Hydrangeas generally thrive in partial shade, particularly in the afternoon. While some varieties can tolerate full sun, many do best with filtered sunlight to protect them from the harsh midday and afternoon sun. Direct sun exposure can lead to scorched or wilting leaves, so it’s crucial to find a location that offers adequate shade.

Soil Drainage

Hydrangeas prefer well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged conditions, which can lead to root rot. Avoid planting in areas with poor drainage or in low-lying spots where water tends to accumulate. If the soil in your chosen location is heavy or clay-like, amending it with organic matter such as compost or peat moss can improve drainage.

Protection From Elements

Consider the potential impact of wind and extreme weather on the location you choose. While hydrangeas can withstand some wind, excessively windy conditions can damage delicate blooms and foliage. Additionally, harsh winter winds can cause desiccation, so planting near a windbreak or structure can offer protection.

Preparing The Soil For Hydrangea Planting

The soil in which hydrangeas are planted plays a crucial role in their overall health and growth. Before planting, it’s important to prepare the soil to provide the best possible environment for your hydrangeas.

Soil Ph

Most hydrangeas prefer soil with a slightly acidic pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. Soil pH can influence the color of hydrangea blooms, with acidic soil producing blue blooms and alkaline soil resulting in pink blooms for certain varieties. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH of the soil in your selected location and adjust it as needed to meet the specific needs of your chosen hydrangea variety.

Organic Matter

Incorporating organic matter such as compost, well-rotted manure, or peat moss into the soil can improve its texture, drainage, and fertility. This organic matter also provides essential nutrients to the hydrangeas and enhances the soil structure, creating a more favorable environment for root development and overall plant growth.

Soil Texture

Hydrangeas favor soil that is well-draining but also retains moisture. Sandy loam soil with a balanced mix of sand, silt, and clay is ideal for hydrangeas. If your soil is heavy or compacted, adding organic matter can help improve its texture, making it more conducive to healthy root growth and water retention.

Selecting The Proper Hydrangea Variety For Your Climate

With a wide range of hydrangea varieties available, it’s essential to choose a type that is well-suited to the climate in which you live. The two primary types of hydrangeas are macrophylla (bigleaf) hydrangeas and arborescens hydrangeas, each with different climate requirements.

Climate Considerations For Macrophylla Hydrangeas

Macrophylla hydrangeas, including the popular mophead and lacecap varieties, thrive in temperate climates with moderate temperatures and adequate humidity. They prefer mild winters and do best in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 9. In cooler climates, they may require winter protection, such as mulching around the base of the plant, to insulate the roots from freezing temperatures.

Climate Considerations For Arborescens Hydrangeas

Arborescens hydrangeas, known for varieties like “Annabelle”, are more cold-hardy and can tolerate a wider range of temperatures. They are well-suited for USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9, making them an excellent choice for regions with harsh winters or fluctuating temperatures.

Other Considerations

Consider the average annual rainfall, humidity levels, and temperature fluctuations in your area when selecting a hydrangea variety. Some varieties may require more consistent moisture or have specific temperature preferences, so choosing a variety adapted to your climate will contribute to the long-term success of your hydrangeas.

Purchasing Healthy Hydrangea Plants

Once you’ve chosen the right location, prepared the soil, and selected a suitable variety, it’s time to purchase healthy hydrangea plants for planting in the ground. Choosing high-quality plants from a reputable nursery is critical to establishing strong, vibrant hydrangeas in your garden.

Selecting Healthy Plants

When purchasing hydrangea plants, look for specimens that are well-branched, with healthy foliage and no signs of disease or pest infestation. Avoid plants with yellowing leaves, wilted stems, or any visible damage. Healthy hydrangea plants should have robust root systems, so inspect the root ball when possible to ensure it is well-developed and not pot-bound.

Season For Planting

While container-grown hydrangeas can be planted at any time of the year, the best times for planting are typically in spring or fall when the weather is mild, and the plants can establish their roots without the stress of extreme temperatures. Avoid planting during the hottest part of the summer or the coldest part of winter to give the plants the best chance of successful establishment.

Consider Size And Growth Habit

Take into account the mature size and growth habit of the hydrangea variety you have selected. The space you have designated for planting should accommodate the eventual size of the plant, and you should consider its growth habit, whether it is compact, spreading, or upright, to ensure it fits seamlessly into your garden design.


Once you have prepared the planting site and obtained healthy hydrangea plants, it’s time to begin the planting process. Follow these steps to ensure that your hydrangeas are planted correctly for optimal growth and performance.

Digging The Hole

Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of the hydrangea plant. The depth of the hole should be the same as the root ball or slightly shallower to prevent the plant from sinking too deeply after planting. If you are planting multiple hydrangeas, ensure that there is adequate space between them to allow for proper air circulation and future growth.

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Positioning The Plant

Gently remove the hydrangea from its container and examine the roots. If the roots are densely packed or circling the root ball, carefully untangle them and tease them outward to encourage outward growth. Place the hydrangea in the center of the hole, ensuring that it sits at the same level as it was in the container.

Backfilling The Hole

Fill the hole with soil, gently tamping it down as you go to remove air pockets and ensure good soil-to-root contact. Water the plant liberally as you backfill to help settle the soil and provide immediate hydration to the roots.


After planting, apply a layer of mulch around the base of the hydrangea to help retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. Use organic mulch such as shredded bark, pine straw, or compost, and apply it in a 2- to 3-inch layer, ensuring that the mulch does not come into direct contact with the stem or trunk of the plant.


Provide the newly planted hydrangea with a deep watering to ensure that the roots are thoroughly moistened. Maintain regular watering, especially during dry periods, to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. A soaker hose or drip irrigation system can be beneficial for delivering water directly to the root zone without wetting the foliage.

Care And Maintenance

Once your hydrangeas are planted, ongoing care and maintenance will contribute to their long-term health and vigor. Regular maintenance practices such as pruning, fertilizing, and monitoring for pests and diseases will help ensure that your hydrangeas thrive in their new home.


Pruning hydrangeas at the appropriate time can help promote healthy growth and encourage abundant blooms. The timing and method of pruning will depend on the specific hydrangea variety, as different types bloom on old wood, new wood, or both. Refer to specific pruning guidelines for your variety to ensure that you prune at the right time and in the right manner to avoid inadvertently removing next season’s blooms.


Hydrangeas benefit from regular fertilization to support their growth and flowering. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer formulated for flowering shrubs in early spring as new growth emerges. Avoid over-fertilizing, as excessive nitrogen can promote lush foliage at the expense of blooms. Follow the application rates recommended on the fertilizer label to avoid the risk of nutrient burn or adverse effects on the plants.

Winter Protection

In regions with cold or harsh winters, providing winter protection can help hydrangeas survive and thrive. Mulch can be applied around the base of the plants to insulate the roots and protect them from freezing temperatures. Additionally, some varieties may benefit from the installation of burlap windbreaks or other protective measures to shield them from winter desiccation or damage from snow and ice.

Pests And Diseases

Regularly inspect your hydrangeas for signs of pests, such as aphids, spider mites, or scale insects, as well as common diseases like powdery mildew or leaf spot. Identifying and addressing pest or disease issues promptly can prevent them from causing significant damage to your plants. Consider using organic pest control methods or contact a professional if you encounter persistent pest or disease problems.


Maintain consistent soil moisture by providing supplemental watering during dry periods. Hydrangeas typically prefer evenly moist soil and may wilt if they experience prolonged drought. Be mindful of watering during hot, dry weather, and adjust your watering schedule to ensure that the soil remains sufficiently moist without becoming waterlogged.

Successfully planting hydrangeas in the ground involves careful consideration of the planting location, soil preparation, variety selection, and plant maintenance. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can create an ideal environment for hydrangeas to flourish and grace your garden with their iconic blooms. With proper care and attention, your hydrangeas will reward you with years of beauty and enjoyment, making them a valuable addition to any garden landscape.

Digging The Planting Hole For Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are beautiful flowering shrubs that add color and charm to any garden. Planting hydrangeas in the ground can be a rewarding experience if done correctly.

Before you start planting hydrangeas in the ground, it’s important to prepare the right planting hole. Follow these steps to dig the perfect hole for your hydrangeas:

  1. Choose the right location: Hydrangeas thrive in well-drained soil and partial shade. Look for a spot in your garden that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Avoid areas with full sunlight or heavy shade.

  2. Measure the root ball: Gently remove the hydrangea from its container or dig it out of the soil if it’s previously been planted. Measure the diameter of the root ball.

  3. Dig the hole: The planting hole should be two to three times wider than the diameter of the root ball and just as deep. Use a shovel to dig the hole, making sure the sides are smooth and not compacted.

  4. Loosen the soil: Break up the soil at the bottom of the hole with a garden fork or shovel to loosen it. This will help the roots penetrate the soil more easily.

  5. Backfill the hole with amended soil: Mix organic matter such as compost or peat moss into the soil that was removed from the hole. This will improve soil fertility and drainage.

Adjusting Soil Ph For Optimal Hydrangea Growth

The pH level of the soil plays a crucial role in the color of hydrangea blooms. In general, acidic soil (pH below 6.0) produces blue or purple blooms, while alkaline soil (pH above 7.0) yields pink or red blooms. Follow these steps to adjust the soil pH for optimal hydrangea growth:

  1. Test the soil pH: Before adjusting the pH, it’s important to know the current pH level of your soil. You can purchase a soil pH testing kit from a local garden center or use a soil testing service.

  2. Lowering the pH for blue blooms: If you desire blue hydrangea blooms and your soil is alkaline, you need to lower the pH. This can be done by adding aluminum sulfate to the soil according to the package instructions. Alternatively, you can apply organic materials like pine needles, coffee grounds, or peat moss to slightly acidify the soil.

  3. Raising the pH for pink blooms: If you prefer pink hydrangea blooms and your soil is acidic, you need to raise the pH. This can be achieved by adding lime to the soil following the package instructions. Be cautious not to overapply, as excessive lime can harm the plant.

  4. Maintaining the desired pH: It’s important to note that adjusting the soil pH is not a one-time task. You will need to monitor the pH regularly and make the necessary adjustments to maintain the desired pH level.

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Properly Planting Hydrangeas In The Ground

Now that you have the ideal planting hole and have adjusted the soil pH, it’s time to plant your hydrangeas. Follow these steps for proper planting:

  1. Place the hydrangea in the hole: Gently lower the hydrangea into the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the surrounding soil. Adjust the depth if necessary.

  2. Backfill the hole: Fill the hole halfway with amended soil and gently tamp it down to remove any air pockets. Then, water the soil thoroughly to settle it.

  3. Adjust the plant’s position: While the hole is filling with water, you can make any necessary adjustments to the position of the hydrangea. Ensure that it is straight and centered in the hole.

  4. Finish backfilling: Once the water has drained, continue filling the hole with amended soil, gently tamping it down as you go. Avoid compacting the soil too much, as it can hinder water drainage.

  5. Create a watering basin: Build a shallow basin around the plant by mounding soil in a ring about 2 feet in diameter. This will help retain water during watering.

  6. Prune if necessary: If your hydrangea has any damaged or overly long branches, you can prune them back to encourage healthy growth.

Watering Hydrangeas After Planting

Watering is crucial during the early stages after planting hydrangeas to help establish their roots. Here’s how to water your newly planted hydrangea:

  1. Water generously: After planting, thoroughly water the hydrangea, allowing the water to penetrate deeply into the root zone. This will encourage root growth.

  2. Monitor soil moisture: Check the soil moisture regularly, especially during the first few weeks. Hydrangeas prefer moist but not waterlogged soil. If the top inch of soil feels dry, it’s time to water.

  3. Water deeply and infrequently: Instead of frequent light watering, it’s better to water deeply, allowing the water to reach the deeper roots. This encourages the development of a strong root system.

  4. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation: To ensure even water distribution, consider using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system. These methods help prevent excessive moisture on the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases.

  5. Adjust watering during the summer: During hot and dry periods, hydrangeas may require more frequent watering. Keep a close eye on the soil moisture and water as needed to prevent drying out.

Mulching Hydrangeas For Moisture And Temperature Control

Mulching is an excellent practice that helps retain soil moisture, control temperature fluctuations, and suppress weed growth around hydrangeas. Follow these guidelines for mulching hydrangeas:

  1. Choose the right mulch material: Organic materials such as wood chips, shredded bark, or compost make excellent mulches for hydrangeas. These materials slowly break down, improving the soil structure and fertility over time.

  2. Apply mulch correctly: Spread mulch around the base of the hydrangea, extending it at least 2 to 3 inches from the stem. Apply a layer of mulch about 2 to 4 inches thick, taking care not to smother the plant.

  3. Keep mulch a few inches away from the stem: It’s important to leave a small gap between the mulch and the stem. This prevents excess moisture from accumulating around the plant, which can lead to rot and disease.

  4. Mulch in spring or fall: Apply mulch in the spring or fall when the soil is moist and temperatures are cooler. This helps conserve moisture during hot summer months and insulates the soil during winter.

  5. Refresh mulch annually: Mulch breaks down over time, so it’s important to replenish it annually. Before adding new mulch, remove any old or compacted mulch to prevent disease and pests.

Planting hydrangeas in the ground requires proper preparation, care, and attention to detail. By digging the right planting hole, adjusting soil pH, properly planting the hydrangeas, watering them adequately, and mulching for moisture and temperature control, you can ensure that your hydrangeas thrive and produce beautiful blooms. Remember to monitor their growth, provide regular maintenance, and enjoy the stunning beauty these shrubs bring to your garden.

Providing Adequate Sunlight For Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are well-known for their stunning show of colorful blooms and their ability to thrive in various climates. These versatile flowering plants are relatively low-maintenance and can be planted in the ground to beautify your garden or landscape. However, in order to ensure the success of your hydrangeas, it is important to properly plant them and provide the necessary care.

Hydrangeas require the right amount of sunlight to thrive and produce vibrant blooms. Before planting your hydrangeas, it is important to consider the amount of sunlight your chosen location receives. Generally, hydrangeas prefer a spot that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. This will help prevent the plants from getting too much direct sunlight, which can lead to burnt leaves and reduced flower production.

To determine the sunlight levels in your chosen location, observe the area throughout the day and assess the amount of direct and indirect sunlight it receives. If the spot receives too much sun, you can create shade by planting taller plants or installing a shade cloth.

Selecting The Right Soil And Preparing The Planting Hole

Hydrangeas thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, it is important to prepare the soil to create an ideal growing environment for your hydrangeas.

Start by digging a hole that is approximately two times wider and slightly deeper than the root ball of the hydrangea. This will allow ample space for the plant’s roots to spread and establish.

Next, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve the soil’s fertility, drainage, and moisture retention. Mix the organic matter with the soil thoroughly, ensuring an even distribution.

Planting The Hydrangea

Once the soil is prepared, it’s time to plant the hydrangea. Carefully remove the hydrangea from its container, handling the roots gently to avoid damage. If the roots are tightly packed or tangled, loosen them slightly with your hands beforehand.

Place the root ball into the planting hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the surrounding soil. Backfill the hole with soil, gently pressing it around the roots to eliminate air pockets. Avoid compacting the soil too much, as this can restrict root growth and water absorption.

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Water the newly planted hydrangea thoroughly to help settle the soil and provide moisture for the roots. Mulching around the base of the plant will help retain moisture, prevent weed growth, and protect the plant’s roots from extreme temperatures.

Supporting Hydrangea Growth With Stakes Or Trellises

Some hydrangea varieties, particularly the climbing types, may benefit from additional support as they grow. Stakes or trellises can help guide the plant’s growth and prevent it from sprawling or collapsing under its weight.

For climbing hydrangeas, install a sturdy trellis or fence for the plant to cling to. Ensure that the support structure is securely anchored in the ground and can withstand the weight and size of the mature plant.

For other hydrangea varieties that tend to have weak stems or heavy blooms, individual stakes can be used to prop up the branches. Place the stakes around the plant and gently tie the branches to them. Be careful not to tie the branches too tightly, as this can cause damage.

Pruning And Deadheading Hydrangeas For Optimal Blooms

Proper pruning and deadheading of hydrangeas can promote healthier growth, bigger blooms, and a longer blooming season. The timing and methods of pruning can vary depending on the hydrangea variety, so it is important to know the specific needs of your plant.

For hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, meaning they produce flowers on the previous year’s growth, it is advisable to prune immediately after they finish flowering. This allows the new growth to develop and set flower buds for the following year.

To prune, start by removing any dead or damaged wood, cutting it back to healthy tissue. Next, remove any crossed branches or branches that are rubbing against each other. This will help improve air circulation and reduce the risk of disease.

For hydrangeas that bloom on new wood, meaning they produce flowers on the current season’s growth, prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Cut the plant back to about one-third of its height to encourage robust growth and abundant blooms.

Deadheading, the removal of spent flowers, can also promote continuous blooming throughout the season. This prevents the plant from putting energy into forming seed heads and encourages it to produce new blooms. Simply remove the faded flowers by cutting the stalk beneath the flower head.

Regular Maintenance And Care Tips For Healthy Hydrangeas

To ensure the health and longevity of your hydrangeas, regular maintenance and care are key. Here are some tips to help you keep your hydrangeas thriving:

  1. Watering: Hydrangeas require regular watering, particularly during dry spells. Water deeply, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overhead watering, as this can lead to leaf diseases. Instead, water the base of the plant.

  2. Fertilizing: Hydrangeas benefit from regular fertilization to provide them with essential nutrients. Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring, following the instructions on the packaging. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of blooms.

  3. Mulching: Mulching the soil around the base of the hydrangea can help conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark or compost, to a depth of 2-3 inches, taking care to keep it away from the plant’s stems to prevent rot.

  4. Winter Protection: In colder climates, protecting hydrangeas from harsh winter conditions is essential. After the ground freezes, apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plants to insulate the roots. You can also cover the plants with burlap or a frost blanket to shield them from freezing winds.

  5. Pest and Disease Control: Hydrangeas are generally pest and disease resistant, but they can still be susceptible to certain issues such as aphids, powdery mildew, or leaf spot. Monitor your plants regularly and take action at the first sign of trouble. Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil can help control pests, while fungicides may be necessary for fungal diseases.


Planting hydrangeas in the ground can add a burst of color and beauty to any garden or landscape. By providing adequate sunlight, preparing the soil, proper planting techniques, and regular maintenance, you can ensure optimal growth and stunning blooms from your hydrangeas. Remember to consider the specific needs of your hydrangea variety and follow the guidelines for pruning and care. With a little attention and care, your hydrangeas will reward you with a spectacular display of flowers for years to come.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Hydrangeas In The Ground?

The best time to plant hydrangeas in the ground is in the late winter or early spring, when the soil is moist and temperatures are cool. This allows for the roots to establish themselves before the hotter summer months.

How Much Sunlight Do Hydrangeas Need?

Hydrangeas prefer partial shade, receiving 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. Too much direct sunlight can cause the plant to wilt or burn, while not enough sunlight can result in fewer blooms.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas prefer well-draining, fertile soil with a pH level of 6.0-6.5. To prepare the soil, mix in organic matter such as compost and peat moss to improve drainage, and a slow-release fertilizer to provide nutrients for the plant.

How Often Should I Water My Hydrangeas After Planting?

It is important to water hydrangeas regularly after planting and during the first growing season. Water deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather and soil moisture levels. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.

Can I Transplant Hydrangeas After They Have Been In The Ground For A Few Years?

Yes, you can transplant established hydrangeas to a new location. It is best to do this in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Dig up the plant carefully, making sure to keep the root ball intact, and transplant it in its new location with well-prepared soil. Water thoroughly and continue to care for the plant as usual.