Home for Hydrangea

Debbie Kinney of Madison Heights, Virginia, asks: "Can I grow a hydrangea in a container? I'm disabled, and container gardening might be easier on my back." Here's the answer.

Yes, in Virginia you should be able to grow a hydrangea in a container. However, gardeners living in cold-winter climates probably can't grow woody plants in containers unless they bring them into a semi-heated garage or cool greenhouse over the winter. Tending a shrub in a large pot might be easier on your back than growing it directly in the ground, but you'll spend more time watering it. Hydrangeas like to stay slightly moist. Their large leaves wilt readily when the roots become too dry. Depending on the container's size, you may have to water daily, or even more frequently, during hot, windy weather.

Put the container in a spot where the hydrangea receives direct sunlight every morning and shade in the afternoon. Mix some timed-release fertilizer into the potting soil at planting time, then apply a liquid fertilizer in spring and early summer in following years. Prune right after blooming to keep the plant from outgrowing its pot.

Deb Brown is professor emeritus, University of Minnesota Department of Horticultural Science.