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How To Propagate Hydrangea In Water: A Step-by-Step Guide

Wondering about ways to make the most out of a Hydrangea plant? Simply propagate the Hydrangea in the water!

Generally, to propagate Hydrangea in water, you’ll need a healthy softwood cutting of 6-8 inches which you submerge in water and let the root initiate. For successful propagation, you’ll have to start the process in the spring when the plant is in its active growth phase.

Despite water propagation having a low success rate, a few tips and tricks may help you achieve a new plant. 

Is it Better to root Hydrangeas in Water or Soil?

Hydrangeas are woody shrubs growing from Zone 3 to 8, while some varieties still manage to unfurl their buds in Zone 9

You can easily have a bunch of these colorful perennials by vegetative propagation (stem or leaf cutting) either in soil or water medium.

However, you may not find many references about ways to propagate Hydrangea in water since barely a few succeed.

Planting the cuttings in the soil allows the root to have a natural growth environment, and eventually, the roots are sturdier. 

Moreover, the soil method is more reliable as it can produce more positive results. 

Although the water allows you to monitor root development as they are visible closely, rooting is questionable. 

The difficult water rooting of Hydrangeas has more to do with its woody nature than the process.

How To Propagate Hydrangeas In Water?

Unlike the general vegetative propagation using both the stem and leaf cutting, you can use softwood cutting to multiply the Hydrangeas in spring.

As Hydrangea leaves do not really produce roots in water, many gardeners avoid it and prefer investing the energy in stem-cuttings. 

Regardless, the best time to propagate Hydrangea in water is in the spring when the plant is in its active growth phase. 

Here are the steps that worked for me after several trials and errors.

Stem-cutting Propagation

You should obtain the cutting early in the morning when the sunlight intensity is low to prevent the wilting of the cut portion.

  • Begin by selecting a non-flowering stem with 2-3 pair of leaves that is healthy and diseases free. 
  • Cut the stem 6-8 inches long, just below the set of leaves, using a sharp pruning shear.
  • Remove all the lower leaves carefully, but keep the top set intact. This prevents bacterial and fungal growth due to leaves decaying in the water.
  • You may partially trim the top leaves in large-leafed Hydrangeas to minimize the stress on the softwood cutting.
  • Fill a glass with filtered or distilled water and submerge the cutting. Ensure half the stem is underwater while the leaves remain above the water. 
  • Place the glass in a suitable location that can receive indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight over the cutting to prevent wilting and drying.
A Hydrangeas stem in a glass jar filled with water to propagate.
Mine worked well, even with a few large leaves intact.
  • Change the water every 2-3 days to avoid bacterial and algae growth on the cutting.
  • You might be able to notice the root development after 2-3 weeks. Once the root is 1-2 inches long, you may transplant them into a pot with some well-draining potting mix.

If you plan to grow them in your garden, use some deer deterrents because Hydrangeas are deer’s favorite snacks to munch on. 

From Editorial Team

Apply Rooting Hormones!

Drop some rooting hormones in the water substrate to boost the root initiation in Hydrangeas stem cutting. 

Ensure not to add more of those. Or, you might damage the bottom end of the cuttings, failing the propagation.