Answer: Growing hydrangeas in containers is a bit more tricky than growing them in your garden, but the results are well worth it.
Hydrangeas all prefer full to partial shade or partial sun. You must have a location for contained hydrangeas where they will get minimal morning sun and plenty of afternoon shade. If the only place you have to place your potted hydrangea is on your shaded patio, you and your hydrangea will both be happy! Just remember to avoid placing them in full sun or they simply won't thrive. Also try to place your containers in an area that is protected from wind.
Both mopheads and lacecaps need containers that are a minimum of 15-16 inches in diameter. A good rule of thumb is to select containers at least 2-4 inches larger both in depth and diameter than the nursery pot in which it was growing. This will give the root ball adequate room to grow. Choose light colored containers, as lighter colors reflect heat away from the roots of your plants. It's also critical that your containers have adequate drainage holes, since all hydrangeas insist on well drained soil.
Always use commercial potting mixes in your containers as they are sterilized and disease free. Your hydrangeas will thrive in a humus-rich potting soil, and using a soilless mix is also an asset as it helps retain water. There are many potting mixes available with slow-release fertilizer granules that are excellent for container plants.
When planting hydrangeas, place several inches of potting soil in the bottom of your container first. Center your hydrangea on top of this base soil, then fill in with more soil around the sides so there are no air pockets. Firm the soil gently with your hand, adding a final amount of soil around the top to make sure the roots are covered. Place a layer of fine bark or other mulch on top of the soil to help keep the plant from drying out. Water your hydrangea thoroughly right after planting, making sure the soil is quite moist.
Hydrangeas are true water gluttons, and even moreso when planted in containers. Daily watering will keep your plant from drying out. Lack of water will make for a very droopy, unhappy looking hydrangea with wilted leaves. You may want to invest some "drip" watering systems available these days. Remember, hydrangeas don't want to be soggy or overwatered -- just nice and moist!
Enjoy your new hydrangea!
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