Can you grow hydrangeas in pots? Here’s the lowdown

Yes, hydrangeas can thrive beautifully in containers.

Hydrangeas make a statement in any summer garden, with their dramatic flower heads bursting to life in your borders. But while the blooms can be planted successfully in the ground, can you grow hydrangeas in a pot?  

For those of you who love these beautiful specimens, you’ll be pleased to learn that hydrangeas can be grown in pots and work well in all styles of gardens, whether you prefer a cottage or contemporary look or are sourcing a plant for a balcony or patio. 

Blue hydrangeas in a containerCredit: Shutterstock/New Africa
Hydrangeas make a beautiful display in a pot and are ideal as a focal point

An introduction to hydrangeas 

Hydrangeas are hardy deciduous shrubs that provide structure and colour in a garden. The striking blooms come in various types, including large round and cone-shaped flower heads, with a range of white, pink and blue blossoms.  

My favourite is Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’. I have three forming a small border in my tiny front garden, which sits alongside a window box of bright red geraniums, and I can’t wait for them to flower each year. I particularly love the slight greenish-white tinge on the blossom. 

Can you grow hydrangeas in a pot?

It’s a resounding ‘yes’

“Hydrangeas are easy to grow in pots,” advises Roger Butler, owner of Signature Hydrangeas. As long as you keep them well watered and plant them in a pot that’s big enough to accommodate their growth, there’s no reason why they can’t be planted in a container. 

However, Butler does advise that some do better than others: “Hydrangea macrophylla and Hydrangea paniculata are the best hydrangeas to grow in pots, while Hydrangea quercifolia, Hydrangea aspera, Hydrangea serrata and Hydrangea arborescens are better in the ground.”  


Best time to plant hydrangeas

Start potting in the spring

The best time to pot hydrangeas is between March and June, advises Butler. One of the main priorities is to think about the pot size, giving the plant enough space to grow without becoming restricted. Consider the size and dimensions of your plant when it matures, and whether you’ll want to transplant it to a larger pot later. A rough guide is to use a pot a few centimetres wider than the one it came in. 

The size of the pot will also depend on the variety you select. Compact hydrangeas won’t grow to the same extent as traditional hydrangeas, so check the plant label for its eventual height and spread before you choose your pot.

Try this compact hydrangea
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bombshell’ is a beautiful compact variety with creamy white flowers with pale pink eyes, available at Crocus, currently discounted at £21.74. 

Adequate drainage is also key. Check the pot has sufficient drainage in the base to prevent the plant’s roots from becoming water-logged. 

Man holding a hydrangea in a pot at a garden centreCredit: Shutterstock/Olga Miltsova
Check the variety you’re buying and how large it will grow to ensure your pot is large enough to accommodate growth

If you plan to move your hydrangea around your garden into different positions, consider the weight of the pot you’ll be using. Rather than a heavy stone or terracotta container, would a lighter weight version be more practical? Primrose stock a lightweight plastic Bowl Ridged planter in beige, £37.49. 

Get the soil right

Check what your hydrangea needs

When choosing the soil, Butler suggests mixing it up: I prefer a combination of John Innes No 3 mixed with a peatbased compost because it retains the water far better than the peatfree compost. 

The sale of peat-free compost to amateur gardeners will be banned in England by the end of 2024. The UK Government announced the ban last year in a move to protect the environment. Organisations such as the RHS are already making peat-free choices ahead of the ban. There are plenty of easily available peat-free composts on the market, including Homebase’s peat free multi-purpose compost, £7 (50l). 

It’s also wise to check the soil type needed for your specific hydrangea, especially if you have a macrophylla variety that responds differently to acidic and alkaline soils. 

How colours change depending on soil type
The soil type is particularly relevant when growing Hydrangea macrophylla. Butler explains that pink varieties usually go blue in acid soils, while they stay pink in alkaline soils. Meanwhile, blue flowers will only remain blue if the soil is acidic and there is sufficient aluminium sulphate in the compost. If the soil is alkaline, the flowers will be pink. It’s slightly easier to grow white flowers, as they will stay white, whatever the soil type.   

How to plant your hydrangea in a pot

Five simple steps to success

Large pink hydrangea in a terracotta potCredit: Shutterstock/Marina Andrejchenko
Before you pot your hydrangea check whether your variety needs acidic or alkaline soil

There’s no great science to planting a hydrangea in a pot, just follow these five simple steps:  

  1. Fill your pot with the appropriate soil type for your hydrangea (see above). 
  2. Dig a hole as big as the pot it came in, remove the plant from the pot and position it within the container. 
  3. Leave a good gap between the top of the soil and the top of the pot to allow water to be absorbed without overflowing.
  4. Give the plant a good water.
  5. Add a layer of mulch to help the plant retain water for longer.

What is the best position for hydrangeas in pots?

Protect them from too much sun

Hydrangeas are best positioned in sheltered areas that receive the morning sun and afternoon shade. Although some varieties enjoy full sun, they are more likely to dry out and need extra watering. This is true for any plants that are grown in containers rather than the ground.   

Butler suggests that the ideal position for Hydrangea macrophylla varieties is in dappled shade and warns: “Certainly keep them out of the hot summer midday to mid-afternoon sun as the flowers may burn.” Instead, he suggests Hydrangea paniculata varieties would do well in full sun or semi-shade. 

How often should hydrangeas be watered in pots?

Don’t let them get thirsty

Hydrangeas in pots will dry out much more quickly than those planted in the ground, so during the hotter, drier months, check your plants regularly. Butler says: In the summer, the pots will need watering every day and must be kept moist the rest of the year. 

Do hydrangeas need feeding?

Give them a boost in the spring

Hydrangeas are relatively easy to maintain and don’t need feeding other than once in the spring. For this, Butler recommends using Osmacote or Miracle Gro. 

Will it need pruning?

It depends on the variety

The pruning of hydrangeas will vary depending on your variety, as some flower on old wood and others on new growth. Check the type you have before you prune to avoid limiting the growth of new flowers. 

 For macrophylla varieties, Butlers advises pruning the plant around April time: “Cut off the dead flower heads immediately under the flower head to the first growing buds, but do not prune too far down the stem as macrophylla flower on old wood. If you prune them too low, you can cut the flower buds off.   

“Hydrangea paniculata flower on this season’s growth so can be pruned back to two buds on last year’s growth, around March or April.” 

Camilla Sharman

Written by Camilla Sharman she/her


Camilla Sharman has worked in publishing and marketing for over 30 years and has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  

As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader. 

It was when she started her family that her freelance career evolved. Having moved into a period house two days before her first son was born, she had the perfect opportunity to combine working from home with writing about her own house renovation projects. Apart from appearing on the cover of Your Home magazine, Camilla’s written for Ideal Homes, Real Homes, House Beautiful, and kitchen and bathroom business magazines.  

It was inevitable that her interest in all things homes would lead her to writing home interest features. As a young girl she had the earliest version of Pinterest – a scrap book full of home inspiration images cut from magazines.  

In her spare time, when she’s not in her kitchen experimenting with a new recipe, you’ll find her keeping fit at the gym. In the pool, stretching at a yoga class, or on a spin bike, exercise is her escape time. She also loves the great outdoors and if she’s not pottering about in her garden, she’ll be jumping on her bike for a gentle cycle ride.