When can you move hydrangeas?

y-studio/iStock/Getty Images

Hydrangeas are easy-to-grow shrubs that produce large flowers anywhere from spring until autumn, depending on the variety. Hydrangeas in general prefer sunny areas with some afternoon shade and well-draining soil.

If you would like to move your hydrangea, they generally transplant well, as long as you do it at the right time.

Autumn move

Moving hydrangeas in the autumn is ideal. Transplant them after your area receives two or three hard frosts. This is also a good time to prune hydrangea varieties that bloom on new wood. It's easier to move a hydrangea that has been pruned since you're dealing with less of a bush and you can more easily work around the plant. Panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) and smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) are examples of hydrangeas that bloom on new wood.

Spring action

You can also move a hydrangea in the spring. Do so before it begins to sprout new growth, if possible. If you didn't prune hydrangeas that bloom on new wood in the autumn or early winter, you can prune them now. However, don't prune your hydrangea at this time if your bush flowers on old wood, such as big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla). If you do, you will cut off this year's blooms.

Lifting tips

Use twine to tie up the branches and get them out of your way. Then dig around the bush and cut under to get as much of the root ball as possible. You'll have to cut through some of the feeder roots, but adjust your digging as necessary to get the majority of the root ball. Push down on the handle of your shovel and pull up at the base of your plant to lift the hydrangea out of the ground.

Replanting guide

Replant your hydrangea as soon as possible. You should have your soil bed ready, tilled and amended with organic matter before lifting it out of its current location. Dig a hole that is two to three times as wide as the root ball, but at the same depth. Place your hydrangea in the centre of the hole and lightly pack in the soil around it. In the end, your hydrangeas should be planted to the same depth as it was before. After planting, water your hydrangea with 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) of water.