Propagating hydrangeas from cuttings is very easy, even for the beginning gardener. If you find a hydrangea that you are fond of ask for a cutting and follow the simple steps below.
Propagate hydrangeas from cuttings
Hydrangeas can propagate readily from softwood cuttings taken during early summer or hardwood cuttings taken from dormant plants in winter. Softwood cuttings come from new wood with partially grown foliage. Hardwood cuttings come from rigid branches that grew the previous summer. Softwood cuttings are the better choice. With proper care, they’ll root in a few weeks.
Preparing Tip Cuttings
Use a sharp, clean knife to cut softwood shoots with three or more sets of leaves, making the cuts just below leaf nodes. After stripping the lower one-third of the leaves from the stems, cut the remaining leaves in half with scissors. This preserves moisture that normally escapes through leaf transpiration. Coat the bottom 1 inch of each cutting in rooting hormone powder and gently tap it to remove the excess.
Hydrangea cuttings need sterile, moisture-retentive, well-draining rooting medium for hydration and support and to discourage fungal disease. Vermiculite, perlite, coarse sand or a commercial soilless potting mix all work well. Fill a clay or plastic rooting pot with your choice of damp medium and insert a pencil into the medium to create a hole for each cutting. After positioning the cuttings in the holes to the depth of cover their hormone coatings, tamp the medium around their bases.
Protecting Planted Cuttings
Constant humidity is essential for rooting. Provide a miniature greenhouse by spacing four sticks at equal intervals around the rim of the container. The sticks form a supporting frame for the clear plastic bag that you slide over them to cover the entire pot. The plastic bag should not contact the leaves. Place the protected cuttings where they get bright light but no direct sun.
Hydrangea cuttings root most quickly at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a heating mat if it’s colder than this. Lift the pots’ plastic every day to check their medium for moisture, adding water only when it’s dry to the touch. Too much water promotes rot instead of roots.
After two or three weeks, examine the roots’ development by sliding your fingers beneath each cutting and carefully lifting it free. If the cuttings have several strong, healthy white roots, open the plastic bag and slide it down 1 inch each day. Keep the medium moist as the cuttings adjust to the less humid environment. When they start producing new growth, transplant them to individual containers of potting soil. Keep unrooted or sparsely rooted cuttings in the plastic-covered pot and check them each week.