Propagate hydrangeas in 9 easy steps

With their old-fashioned charm, vibrant colours and large blooms, these flowers are hard to resist. Here’s how to propagate hydrangeas in nine easy steps


Growing hydrangeas from soft wood tip cuttings or semi-hard slips in summer is quick, easy and rewarding. The bonus? If you have a hydrangea with large bracts or great colour, any plant you propagate from it will have the same traits.



  • Take 15cm long cuttings from healthy hydrangea bushes selecting non-flowering, young green stems. It’s best to do this in the morning when the plants are well hydrated. Make the cut just above a node. Keep the cuttings in a cool place in a plastic bag until you’re ready to pot them up.
  • Use a suitable, free-draining but moisture-retaining commercial potting mix. Or make your own by mixing equal parts of moistened palm peat (obtainable from nurseries in compressed peat blocks) and coarse river sand or perlite. Moisten it before filling several clean, 8–10cm diameter pots.
  • Using a sharp blade, cut off all the leaves with the exception of the top pair of leaves surrounding the top bud.
  • Now recut the stems at a slight angle, just below the upper leaf node where you’ll see a pair of new buds developing in the axil of the stubs of the leaves you’ve just removed. If you want to propagate more plants, save the portion you’ve cut off and make similar cuts beneath and above each node.
  • Dip the end of the prepared cuttings in a hormone rooting powder or liquid specifically for semi-softwood cuttings and then tap to remove any excess.
  • Place each cutting in its own pot to a depth of about half the stalk and firm into place by pressing down the potting mix gently.
  • Water lightly.
  • Cover each pot with a plastic bag; you may need to put in some sort of support like a piece of wire coat hanger to prevent the plastic touching your cutting.
  • Secure the plastic bag with a piece of twine or an elastic band. Place the pots, on drip trays, in a shady, but bright place; never in the sun. Check periodically that the potting mix is moist; if not, water as necessary.

READ MORE: Growing bougainvilleas


Once the cuttings have begun to root, remove the plastic bag and water them when needed. This should be in about 3 – 4 weeks. Begin to feed the plants with a weak solution of Kelpak and Seagro or similar water-soluble fertiliser. Once the roots begin to emerge from the base of the pot, they’re ready to be planted into a larger pot until they’ve established a good root system and can then be planted out in the garden.

RELATED: Propagating plants