The Q&A Archives: Hydrangea

Question: I heard you can collect Hydrangea seed and start them. If so when is a good time to get the seed, and when should I start them? I read something about this but dont remember where I read it. Thanks Kim :~)

Answer: I have never heard of anyone collecting seed from hydrangea and starting them that way. I'm sure it is possible to do this, but it may be a challenge. Hydrangea are an absolute breeze to propagate from an easy process called "layering". In the fall, take a long, flexible limb (one that will easily reach the ground without breaking), and notch an area of the stem with a sharp knife. Dust the notch with a rooting stimulation hormone such as Rootone, dig out a small area of soil, placed notched area of the limb (dust side down) into the small hole, and cover with soil, securing the limb to ground either with a small stone or a floral pick. In the spring, separate this limb from the mother hydrangea. There should be a new rootball at the area at which you made that original notch. If the hydrangea is on its own rootstock, rather than grafted onto a hardy or disease resistant base (scion), you can also propagate by digging up and replanting a "sucker" from the base of the plant. It will eventually grow into a full size specimen. Provide it with rich soil in full sun, and keep it well-watered until it gets established.

If you want to try growing hydrangea from seed, it's easy to do. Seedlings of species varieties will produce plants that resemble the parents; seedlings of hybrids will produce a mixed bag of results. A cold frame is ideal for this purpose. Sow ripe seeds in late winter/early spring in a mix of moistened sand and fine peat moss. Scatter seed thinly over the top of the soil mix, and cover them lightly. Then place a sheet of glass or plastic over the flat, and provide light shade so sun doesn't "cook" the seedlings under the cover. Keep soil evenly moist. When the seedlings are sturdy, transplant them to individual pots or to a nursery bed until they've grown large enough to be planted in their permanent homes.

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