Propagating Hydrangea Cuttings
Hydrangeas cuttings are generally easy to take but are slow to root, so it can be a problem getting them to survive over-winter unless they have rooted really well. I find it is best to take them in early summer, around July to ensure they get plenty of time to get a good head start.
There are several methods of taking Hydrangea cuttings. The following method is the one I use regularly with good success:
- Fill one or more 20 cm (8 in) deep pots (the pots need to be deep enough to accept the full length of the cutting stem), with one part sterile compost to one part sharp sand or horticultural grit.
- Take healthy young shoots, at least 15cm (6 in) long, with at least three leaf nodes, and without a flower bud.
- Take off the lower leaves from the bottom two leaf nodes and trim the base just below the first leaf joint. Leaving the top two leaves on the cutting. If the remaining leaves are very large, you can reduce them by half with sharp scissors.
- You can dip the cuttings in hormone rooting powder, however I find this is not necessary.
- Using a dibber, make deep planting holes in the compost, planting the cuttings around the rim of the pot. Plant no more than three to a pot, ensuring the leaves are not touching.
- Most of cutting (below the leaves) should be buried in the compost. Cover the pots with a little horticultural grit to improve surface drainage and prevent fungal growth.
- Water well and allow to drain. Place the cuttings in a damp shady spot. Remember hydrangeas are shade loving so they don't mind deep shade whilst rooting. Ideally place them in a gravel tray to ensure that plenty of moisture is available around the leaves.
- I find there is no real need to use a propagator or cover the pots with polythene, so long as you place the cuttings in a damp shady spot and not in bright sun.
- If the leaves wilt then spray them with tepid water on a regular basis until they perk-up.
- Hydrangea cuttings can take some time to root, so don't be tempted to check for roots until new shoots and some top growth appears, usually after about 4 to 8 weeks.
- Once they have rooted well give them a regular feed with a general purpose liquid fertiliser.
- They can be potted-on at this stage but I usually keep them in their original pots until they are large enough to be planted straight out in the garden, in late summer or early autumn.
- If the cuttings have rooted late then sink the pots into the ground and cover with a little mulch to keep them snug until the spring. Don't worry if the leaves fall off in winter as this is normal, they should sprout new shoots in the spring.
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