Potted Hydrangea Houseplant – How To Care For Hydrangea Indoors
By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Hydrangea is a beloved plant that lights up the landscape with large globes of dazzling color in spring and summer, but can hydrangea grow indoors? Can you grow hydrangea as a houseplant? The good news is that potted hydrangea plants are well-suited for indoor growing and are relatively easy to care for as long as you can satisfy the plant’s basic needs.
How to Care for Hydrangea Indoors
If the hydrangea is a gift, remove any foil wrapping. Keep in mind that hydrangeas sold during the holidays may not be hardy enough to survive indoors. If you’re serious about growing hydrangea as a houseplant, you may have better luck with a plant from a greenhouse or nursery.
Move the hydrangea into a large container filled with high quality potting mix. Place the plant where it receives bright light. Outdoor grown hydrangeas tolerate light shade, but indoor plants need plenty of light (but not intense, direct sunlight).
Water your potted hydrangea houseplant frequently when the plant is blooming but be careful not to overwater. Decrease the amount of water after blooming but never allow the potting mix to become bone dry. If possible, water potted hydrangea houseplants with distilled water or rainwater, as tap water generally contains chlorine and other chemicals.
Use a humidifier if the indoor air is dry or place the plant on a humidity tray. Hydrangea is happiest in a cool room with temperatures between 50- and 60-degrees F. (10-16 C.), especially during blooming. If the leaves turn brown and crispy on the edges, the room is probably too warm.
Protect the plant from drafts and heat sources. Feed the plant every week while the plant is blooming, using a water soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength. Thereafter, cut back to one feeding per month.
When growing hydrangea as a houseplant, a period of dormancy during fall and winter is recommended. Move the plant into an unheated room with temperatures around 45 degrees F. (7 C.). The potting mix should be kept on the dry side, but water lightly as needed to prevent the plant from wilting.
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How to Care for a Potted Hydrangea Plant
Hydrangeas create a soft yet powerful statement, thanks to their abundance of clustered flowers in delicate hues of blue, pink or white. Though hydrangeas are commonly grown as shrubs, they grow successfully in containers as well. Caring for them in pots requires moderate care, whether grown indoors or out. Always choose hydrangeas that thrive in your region for best growth. For example, bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9, while oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) perform best in USDA hardiness zones 5b through 9.
Place your potted hydrangeas in areas that receive morning sunlight and afternoon shade, for best growth.
Add organic matter, such as peat moss, to soil to improve fertility, as potted hydrangeas perform best in potting mix high in organic content.
Fertilize potted hydrangeas with a water soluble fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20, following the instructions printed on the label.
Irrigate potted hydrangeas regularly, as these plants require consistent water for proper flower growth and fare poorly during drought. Water the plant often enough that roots remain moist without maintaining wet soil, which may lead to disease problems. Irrigate when the top layer of soil or potting mix feels dry to the touch. Check soil more than once on a daily basis until you are familiar with how often your plant needs water.
Prune hydrangeas with shears after flowering. Remove faded blossoms to encourage new growth.
Depending upon the variety, th e sun requirements may differ. For example, Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea arborescens like to grow in the morning sun, whereas Hydrangea macrophylla grows best afternoon shade. So, grow potted hydrangeas in the morning sun with afternoon shade.
For indoor hydrangeas, keep them near the south or west-facing window. Avoid growing them in the scorching sun, as it can burn the foliage and blooms, whereas too much shade can result in few blooms.
Tip: If you have kept potted hydrangeas in a sunny balcony, protect them from the afternoon sun by moving them away from the edge of the balcony.
The soil for growing hydrangeas in pots must be well-draining, and should not be compact. Therefore, choose a potting soil with a high amount of organic material. In the case of Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), you can make changes in the pH of the soil, according to the color of the blooms you want. For blue flowers, make the soil acidic (4.5-5.5 pH) and for pink flowers, make the soil alkaline (more than 6 pH).
Tip: For making the soil alkaline, use lime. Use organic mulch or sulfur to make the soil acidic.
Hydrangeas like moist soil to thrive, hence, require frequent and deep watering. In pots, soil dries out quickly and this water stress can cause foliage shedding. So water them deeply when the topsoil looks dry. Pour it into the pot until it comes out the bottom. Also, make sure that your pot has enough drainage holes to let the excess water drain out because waterlogged soil causes root rot.
For growing hydrangeas, the optimum temperature should be around 70 F (21 C) during the day and above 50 F (10 C) in the night. Make sure that the plant is not exposed to the temperature below 40 F (4 C) or else it might die. Bring the pots indoors when the temperature is not suitable. Give them shelter or keep them indoors during summer when the temperature rises above 100 F as excess heat can cause the plant to droop.
Tip: Protect hydrangeas from strong winds if they are the balcony it can break their brittle stems.