9 Beautiful Hydrangeas – How To Grow Hydrangeas In Containers

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas – How To Grow Hydrangeas In Containers

All About The Beautiful Hydrangeas

Many people remember hydrangeas from their childhood. Today we are falling in love with them all over again. It’s easy to find hydrangeas that will bloom in almost any location since the selection is now so large.

This elegant flowering shrub cultivates with ease, tolerates almost any soil condition, and has abundant blooms. It always amazes me how beautiful the flowers are with their vibrant colors and shades of blue, pink, frosty white, and rose blossoms! Sometimes they are blooming all at the same time on a single plant!

Hydrangeas are excellent for container planting, shrub borders, and group plantings; however, they are also excellent in mixed group plantings. It’s easy to discover new varieties of flowers, and they will provide all your garden needs in terms of bloom size, color, and shape. Having a good understanding of the process will enhance the experience.

Read our guide below to find out how to grow hydrangeas, enjoy this gorgeous bloom, and discover the benefits of this flower.

History of Hydrangeas

The history of hydrangeas is truly unique, that begins with an early settler in America, John Bartram, who is credited with the discovery of the species and its introduction to “New World” gardens in the 1730s. He began to explore the wilderness in his quest for plants, traveling thousands of miles, including trips through the dangerous frontier country, into the wilds of the Appalachian Mountains and as far south as Florida.

In later years, his son accompanied him on his travels and they discovered a hydrangea species native to Georgia. The two set up a five-acre botanic garden at the Bartram home in the Philadelphia area. Bartram exported plants from the Oakleaf variety to England and eventually became the “the King’s Botanist” to George III. In the U.S., he is regarded as “the father of American botany.”

Hydrangea, the name, comes from the Greek words “hydro” or water, and “angeion” or vase — water vase. Much as we would like to say that it’s descriptive of how the flowers can be used, the name actually relates to the shape of the plant’s seed capsule. Fossils show that hydrangeas grew in North America 40-70 million years ago and up to 25 million years ago in Asia.

The first hydrangea in Europe was Hydrangea arborescens, imported into England in 1739. The plant was found growing wild in the colony called Pennsylvania by a botanist named Peter Collinson. The beautiful hydrangeas were popular immediately and quickly spread from England to The Continent.

While Europeans, notably the French, have put the plant “on the map” in the last century, they did it with imported plants as the hydrangea is native only to the North American and Asian continents! Hydrangea arborescens and Hydrangea quercifolia are native to America; all others are native to Asia.

In the early 1800s, specimens of Hydrangea macrophylla, Bigleaf Hydrangea, started to show up in Europe. It is this plant, with its colorful blue to pink hues which was interesting to botanists, collectors, and later, to hybridizers.

One of the first was Dr. Philipp Franz von Siebold, a physician, and botanist, who spent two long periods in Japan. He imported numerous beautiful hydrangeas and other plants and created a botanical garden and nursery in France and display gardens throughout his native Germany. It is Dr. von Siebold who is credited with being the “Father of the European Hydrangea Movement.”

It was the French who began hybridizing Bigleaf Hydrangeas to give us the rainbows of Summer color we enjoy today. Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mariesii Perfecta,’ hybridized by Victor Lemoine in 1904, was one of the earliest hybrids on the European market.

Varieties of Hydrangeas

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas - How To Grow and Care for Hydrangeas
Hydrangea Arborescens

This variety of beautiful hydrangeas is native to the United States. It is very hardy and blooms on new wood. It is the original ‘snowball’ hydrangea with white sterile flowers. Arborescens will bloom early, mid-season, and late.

Most of the ornamental plants in the market are surpassed in popularity by Hydrangea arborescens. This dense, green shrub bears rich, creamy white flowers ranging in size from 15 to 25 centimeters. Arborescens has exceptionally attractive leaves that contribute to this plant’s unique appearance. It is ideal for both cut flowers as well as dried flowers and can be preserved over the winter months due to its breathtaking beauty.

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas - How To Grow and Care for Hydrangeas
Hydrangea Aspera

Aspera is recognized for its huge fuzzy leaves and stems. The different varieties of Hydrangea Aspera are native to the Himalayas, China, and Taiwan. This family grows very large and the flower color does not usually change with acidity. All varieties hydrangeas in the Aspera family have unusually large lacecap shaped flowers.

Among its best features is the combination of shades of purple and white in umbel-shaped flowers. Also contributing to this appearance are the leaves with their velvety surface.

These large, strikingly colored flowers reach 30 centimeters in size. Pink flowers of the large panicles open to reveal a purple hue. Despite its dark foliage and colorful flowers, its contrast alone makes it a real gem.

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas - How To Grow and Care for Hydrangeas
Hydrangea Involucrata

This small shrub has fuzzy leaves that are pale green in color. Varieties of Hydrangea Involucrata were found in the early 1900s in Japan. Unusual buds are shaped like globes opening to oval-shaped lacecap flowers which bloom early, mid-season, and late.

Hydrangea Involucrata, which comes from Japan and Taiwan, shows its particularity in its bracts. From August to September, it blooms with charming blue to violet-pink fertile flowers surrounded by white, sterile marginal flowers. It grows a maximum of 1.30 meters high and 1.5 meters wide, making it an ideal dwarf hydrangea for planting in small gardens or as a screening plant.

Any person who chooses the beautiful Hydrangea Involucrata will receive a rare and unusual plant. Because of its delicate appearance, it is suitable for both large and small gardens. There should be little maintenance needed. You should get a sheltered place to plant it, however.

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas - How To Grow and Care for Hydrangeas
Hydrangea Macrophylla (Lacecap)

Lacecap flower heads are made up of small fertile flowers in the center with a ring of larger sterile florets around the outside. The flower head has a comparatively flat, roughly disc-shaped appearance. Lacecap varieties of  Hydrangeas are strong vigorous growers.

It is without question that mature lacecaps can be marvelous. They find themselves very easily blending into wooded surroundings because they snuggle up to and around trees such as dogwoods and shrubs.

It has been common knowledge that lacecap and mophead Hydrangeas are both classified as Hydrangea macrophylla. The growing environment is the same for both types.

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas - How To Grow and Care for Hydrangeas
Hydrangea Macrophylla (Mophead)

Mophead is a nickname used to describe the familiar ‘snowball’ bloom hydrangeas. The florets are sterile forming large colorful globular heads.

Some of the most desired varieties of Hydrangeas include the Mophead Hydrangeas which produce extremely large, light-blue balls of flowers. Originating from China and Japan, cultivated plants of this species are now available throughout the Western world.

In many cases, the plants are tolerant of wind and salt spray. Newer Mophead varieties flower more reliably on new growth and older stems, which means they will blossom even after a tough, cold winter.

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas - How To Grow and Care for Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Paniculata

Paniculata varieties of Hydrangeas feature a panicle (cone-shaped) flower head consisting of fertile and sterile florets blooming on new wood. Paniculatas are easy to grow and hardy in some areas.

A Hydrangea Paniculata is usually an evergreen shrub with many-branched stems, but it can be trained to grow as a compact single-trunk tree. Branches are rounded and arching, spreading upwards as well as outwards in a pattern of semi-arches; it is a tough, fast-growing plant tolerant of pollution. In addition to being one of the hardiest hydrangeas, it thrives more happily in urban environments and is more drought-tolerant than other varieties of hydrangeas.

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas - How To Grow and Care for Hydrangeas
Hydrangea Anomala

This is a climbing hydrangea featuring a white lacecap bloom. Several varieties of Hydrangea anomala were found in the 1800s in the Himalayas, Japan, and China.

It’s hard to believe that these inhospitable and shady spots are home to some of the most beautiful hydrangeas in the world. It takes time to establish itself, but eventually, it will grow along walls and fences, clinging to them with aerial roots. A heart-shaped and dark green plant, it appears in early spring with a mass of white lacy flower heads and then in autumn – turning yellow.

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas - How To Grow and Care for Hydrangeas
Hydrangea Quercifolia

One of the most beautiful hydrangeas is Oak-leaved Hydrangea, with its unique oak-shaped leaves and white flowers. Hydrangea quercifolia originates in the southeastern United States.

It grows in a variety of habitats, including dry forests, steppe regions, and forests with clay, sandy-loam, and moderately dry soil. A good location for this shrub is one where it will remain warm all year round. It will tolerate periods of frost as well.

This evergreen deciduous shrub ranges in height from 120 to 170 centimeters. In spite of the generous growth of this plant, it reaches a width of 1.70 meters. As a solitary plant, the beautiful Hydrangea quercifolia is one of nature’s most impressive plants. When grown in groups, it is a perfect hedge plant or privacy screen in the summer.

9 Beautiful Hydrangeas - How To Grow and Care for Hydrangeas
Hydrangea Macrophylla (Serrata)

The short hydrangea ‘Preziosa’ has a good permanent bloom and is a good choice for smaller gardens. A spectacular flowering spectacle occurs when this attractive plant begins to bloom in July and lasts well into October.

Hydrangea serrata ‘Preziosa’ is covered with numerous dainty flower balls during its flowering period. Various shades of rose-red appear in the individual flowers.

It is impossible to influence the flower color of the small-grown hydrangea ‘Preziosa’, as it determines its color on its own. Their preference for pink does not change even in acidic soil! This plant, which some gardeners refer to as a sawn hydrangea, has distinctive features, which include red-brown shoots and leaves.

How To Grow Hydrangeas In Containers

These showy beauties do not have to be planted only in gardens. Many varieties of Hydrangeas are suitable and wonderfully effective when planted in large containers.

Growing hydrangeas in containers is a bit more tricky than growing them in your garden, but the results are well worth it. For successful growth and long-lasting beauty, gardeners need to be selective about choosing the appropriate varieties for containers.

Mopheads and Lacecaps — Which is Which?

Before you get the urge to dash out and buy the first hydrangeas that meet your eye, it’s wise to learn the difference between “mopheads” and “lacecaps.” Chances are, some gardeners may never have heard these terms associated with hydrangeas. As peculiar as these names sound, they truly are the names designated to two cultivar groups of macrophylla hydrangeas!


Hortensias {H. macrophylla}, also known as bigleaf or garden hydrangeas, are very popular and widely grown. Hortensias, also known as “mopheads,” was named in honor of Hortense, the daughter of 18th-century botanist Prince de Nassau. Mopheads feature large round flowerheads resembling pom-poms and bloom from mid to late Summer.

Their flower clusters differ from lacecaps in that some varieties produce sterile flowers with petal-like sepals, while others bear smaller fertile flowers with starry petals. Those bearing sterile flowers bloom for several months, although their color gradually fades toward Summer’s end. Mopheads bloom in solid masses, their clusters often so heavy that they cause their stems to droop and bend.


Lacecap hydrangeas bear flat round flower heads with centers of fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of sterile flowers. Their center flowers are not exactly showy, however, the outer rings of their sterile flowers are quite striking. Interestingly, the structure of these flowers really does remind one of a fancy “lace cap!” The fascinating flower heads of lacecap hydrangeas are also somewhat reminiscent of pinwheels.

Where To Plant Hydrangeas

Take a look around your garden before you decide to grow hydrangeas in containers. Hydrangeas all prefer full to partial shade or partial sun. You must have a location for contained hydrangeas where they will get minimal morning sun and plenty of afternoon shade. If the only place you have to place your potted hydrangea is on your shaded patio, you and your hydrangea will both be happy! Just remember to avoid placing them in full sun or they simply won’t thrive. Also, try to place your containers in an area that is protected from the wind.

Choose The Most Beautiful Hydrangea From All The Varieties Of Hydrangeas

When you’ve decided which varieties of hydrangeas you want to plant, always buy them at a reliable nursery or garden center. Experienced nursery people can be a big help in selecting what you need. Select plants with well-balanced shapes to achieve a pleasing effect in your containers. Inspect the leaves for signs of disease or insect problems, and always buy only healthy plants. It’s best to buy plants already in bloom to make sure you’re getting the most beautiful hydrangea variety that you will love to look at.

Grow Hydrangeas In Containers – Select The Perfect Container Size

Both mopheads and lacecaps need containers that are a minimum of 15-16 inches in diameter. A good rule of thumb is to select containers at least 2-4 inches larger both in-depth and diameter than the nursery pot in which it was growing. This will give the root ball adequate room to grow. Choose light-colored containers, as lighter colors reflect heat away from the roots of your plants. It’s also critical that your containers have adequate drainage holes since all hydrangeas insist on well-drained soil.

Soil, Fertilizer, and Planting

Always use commercial potting mixes in your containers as they are sterilized and disease-free. Your hydrangeas will thrive in humus-rich potting soil, and using a soil-less mix is also an asset as it helps retain water. There are many potting mixes available with slow-release fertilizer granules that are excellent for container plants.

Should you decide to grow hydrangeas in containers, especially the Macrophylla varieties of hydrangeas, be aware that they can have either pink or blue flowers, depending on the pH of the soil. Acid soils produce blue flowers, whereas alkaline soils produce pink blossoms. In garden settings, their colors can be changed by adding either sulfur or lime, depending on the color you want to achieve. This is much more difficult in containers because of the small amount of soil you have to work with.

When planting hydrangeas in containers, place several inches of potting soil in the bottom of your container first. Center your hydrangea on top of this base soil, then fill in with more soil around the sides so there are no air pockets. Firm the soil gently with your hand, adding a final amount of soil around the top to make sure the roots are covered. Place a layer of fine bark or other mulch on top of the soil to help keep the plant from drying out. Water your hydrangea thoroughly right after planting, making sure the soil is quite moist.

Water Requirements Of Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are true water gluttons, and even more so when planted in containers. Daily watering will keep your plant from drying out. Lack of water will make for a very droopy, unhappy-looking hydrangea with wilted leaves. You may want to invest in some “drip” watering systems available these days. Remember, hydrangeas don’t want to be soggy or over-watered — just nice and moist!

Noxious Pests or Other Problems To Watch For

Ah yes — even the most beautiful hydrangeas attract a few pests! Among some pests to watch for are aphids, red spiders, leaf tiers, and rose chafers. Hydrangea foliage is also susceptible to leaf spots and powdery mildew. Always treat insects or diseased plants as soon as possible. Your friendly local garden will be able to quickly steer you in the right direction for a proper treatment plan if needed.

How To Prune Hydrangeas

When to prune is sometimes simply a matter of convenience. We have pruned both in the Autumn and early Spring and had good results either way. It does seem that the later and the more harshly you prune the fewer flower blooms can be expected the next season. This is because most hydrangeas bloom on “old” wood. With young plants, be sure to prune enough growth to form them into a good “shape.” This is generally 10 to 20 percent of the growth. Once the plant is established, cut only 3 or 4 of the oldest canes back to the ground each year and leave the others to make flower buds for the next season.

Color Of Beautiful Hydrangeas

The color of beautiful hydrangeas will vary considerably due to the pH of the soil they are growing in. The blues are best in acid soil and the degree of blueness is controlled by the amount of available aluminum and the capacity of a particular variety to draw it up. The reds and pinks enjoy an alkaline or neutral soil. The whites stay white but usually enjoy the same conditions as the reds and pinks.

To encourage the “bluing” of the flowers, you need to raise the acidity of the soil. This can be done by soaking the soil around the hydrangea with a hydrangea colorant several times at weekly intervals in the Spring and again in the Autumn.

To encourage pink to red blooms on plants in high acid soil, apply lime to the soil. The lime should be applied at the rate of one pound to every ten square feet of the surface area once or twice a year until the desired bloom color is obtained.

Note: Color correction takes some weeks or even months for the desired changes to take effect.

Drying Blooms Of Hydrangeas

Hydrangea blooms will not dry successfully when freshly flowering. For drying, the flower heads need to be of a “papery” consistency. This is usually towards Autumn before the first frost. Pick the leaves off the flower stems and hang them upside down for a few days in a dark, warm place. Sometimes it helps to use a fan for air circulation. Store or arrange the dried blooms in a dry place away from direct sunlight as this will fade the color.

Read More: https://plantaddicts.com/all-about-hydrangeas/

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