Time to Transplant Hydrangeas

If you’re wondering  about transplanting your hydrangeas, now is it. The time to transplant hydrangeas is one of the questions that often comes up during my lectures and talks as audiences realize they need to move their plants.

Big leaf hydrangea flower

Big leaf hydrangea flower


Here are a couple of reasons to transplant your hydrangeas: it has grown too big for its space and you always find yourself needing to cut it back which often results in fewer flowers. You either cut it at the wrong time or you damage it when you cut it. Or you realize that it is too exposed to winter weather and always dies back to the ground like the one in the photo and maybe that wouldn’t happen if it was in a different place. Or you never get around to it in time or whatever.

If a big leaf hydrangea shows winterkill, it might be time to transplant itter winter killed its stems.

Big leaf hydrangeas will grow new stems after winter killed the old ones. Time to transplant?


Late August/early September is a good time to transplant your hydrangea. It gives the plant time to establish roots before it goes completely dormant or winter comes and the ground freezes. Secondly, you can monitor it while it still has foliage which can tell you when it needs attention. A third reason for this timing is by now, usually the intense heat of summer has waned which takes a lot of stress off the plant. Yet the soil is still warm enough to encourage root development. Lastly, in most geographies, rain becomes more regular. There is nothing as good as the steady, slow drip of rain for a plant to get established. Otherwise it will be up to you, the gardener, to provide irrigation to maintain the proper moisture level for your plant. That gets old fast as you get busy with back to school activities and all of life’s responsibilities.



Somewhere better! Try to find a place where your plant can grow to its intended full size with morning sun and afternoon shade: its ideal environment. But we don’t live in an ideal world, do we? So do the best you can considering your options. Most importantly as we have learned if you live in a climate with finicky weather, do your best to site your plant with some kind of protection from winter, and desiccating winds. Look for places that have protective persistent winter foliage like Alberta spruces, arborvitae, rhododendrons, oaks, beeches and the like. Maybe there are structures like fences, sheds, your house or a neighbor’s house or shed that can provide screening from the prevailing weather. Move some Adirondack chairs around for the winter if necessary to block the weather. Take a moment or two to examine your options before making that move.


With some help, I just moved about nine of my big leaf hydrangeas this past week from all over my yard. They were in the wrong places so we took an entire day to plant them where I think they (and I) will be happy.

One of things to do is make a hole deep enough to let water pool at the base of the plant. That way it can sink in slowly to keep the roots moist, a critical success factor for a transplanted hydrangea. Then wrap/lay that soaker hose (if you’re using one) around the base of the plant. Here’s a photo of one of the nine we moved before we laid the mulch.
Transplanted big leaf hydrangea with soaker hose at base

Transplanted big leaf hydrangea with soaker hose at base before being mulched.


I devote an entire chapter to this subject in my book, Success With Hydrangeas, A Gardener’s Guide. I write about moving all species of hydrangeas, not just the big leaf beauties. If you have already purchased the book, Chapter Four has all the info you need. If you would like to buy a signed copy of my book, just go to www.lorraineballato.com to place your order. Alternatively, your favorite bookseller can provide an unsigned copy.

Here’s to happy hydrangeas, no matter where they are planted!


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