Get more hydrangea with these simple steps

hydrangea

Hydrangeas burst with blooms summer and fall in colors ranging from blues and white to lavender and pinks. You can increase the number of plants by using simple propagation methods. | Photo courtesy of University of Missouri Extension

HILLSBORO, Mo. — One of summer’s most showstopping bloomers is easy to transplant and propagate, says University of Missouri Extension horticulturist Debi Kelly.

Hydrangeas burst with blooms summer and fall in colors ranging from blues and white to lavender and pinks.

Bloom size varies on this low-maintenance perennial shrub, which tolerates almost any type of soil, sun or shade, although it prefers partial sun.

It is best to transplant in early spring or late in the fall when the plant is not actively growing. Transplanting puts the plant under stress and makes it harder for it to adjust to its new surroundings.

Instead of transplanting, consider propagation, a way to create new plants from existing ones, says Kelly. There are two ways to do this: layering and division.

To layer, dig a trench and bend a limb section down into the trench. Remove a 1 inch small ring of the bark all the way around the limb. This is where the plant will develop new roots. Cover with soil, leaving 6-12 inches of tip growth.

After it has developed enough roots, cut the branch from the mother plant and move to a new location. Allow plenty of room between plants.

To propagate by division, choose a well-established plant. In spring before plants leaf out, use a shovel to divide the clump and move to a new location, says Kelly.

Another option is to take softwood cuttings. In early summer, select terminal cuttings from nonflowering shoots. The terminal bud grows at the end of a branch or stem.

Cuttings should be 3-5 inches long and have at least three leaves. Cut at a slight angle at a node. Dip the cut end in a root hormone and place in a moist growing medium. Remove half of each leaf to reduce water loss and wilting. Keep the cuttings in a shaded area while rooting.

For more information: “Hydrangeas, the bold chameleon of plants” (MU Extension news release), www.extension.missouri.edu/n/3358.

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