How to Divide a Hydrangea

2 Materials
30 Minutes

Did you know that hydrangeas can be divided? Me either! But it can be done. Grow your garden and double your stock for FREE with this cool gardening tip.

Last week, I was walking the gardens with my dogs. While touring the beds, I started inspecting the hydrangeas to see how they are leafing out and filling in this spring.

I'm hoping that this year's everblooming variety will bloom better than it did last year. To learn what happened to my everblooming hydrangeas last year, click here.

Anyway, while inspecting the plants, I noticed one of the shrubs looked like it sprouted a few baby sections. I saw three smaller clumps from the main plant. Which means, I have additional plants that are attached to the main hydrangea that I planted several years ago.

Now, I could just leave them be and allow them to stay with the mother plant. But this is a great way to grow my garden and get more stock for FREE! And I'm all about free stuff when it comes to gardening!

To be clear, I have never done this before but free plants are always worth trying something new. I did a quick google search to see if this was indeed a thing and I found a bunch of search results so, I was totally doing this!

So much like dividing a perennial, I grabbed a shovel and started digging out the baby hydrangeas. Not gonna lie - digging through those roots was not easy but it was worth the effort. Here's how I did it!

Supplies Needed to Divide Hydrangeas

Not much is needed to divide and replant hydrangeas. It is likely you have most of these supplies on hand, but in case you don't, here is a good list of items to keep in your garden shed. I use them all the time with various gardening activities so they are worth the minimal investment.

  • Spade Shovel
  • Pitch Fork
  • Garden Gloves
  • Garden Soil with Soil Amendments
  • Lots of Effort

How to Divide Hydrangeas

If you are unfamiliar with how to divide a plant, click here to learn the basics. While not difficult to do, this does require a little more effort than dividing perennials. I jumped on the shovel to help slice through the thicker roots. Do what you can to salvage as much of the root ball as possible. The less damage to the root ball, the easier it will be to establish the transplant.

  • Grab your garden supplies.
  • While you don't have to wear garden gloves, I recommend wearing them. They will help you grip the shovel and protect your hands from blisters.
  • Start digging with the shovel around the base of the baby clump. I prefer to start with the outside of the plant and work my way in.
  • Use your body weight if needed to dig through and under the roots. The roots can be pretty tough though, so don't be shy about jumping on the shovel to dig down and slice through some of the thicker roots. Try to salvage as much of the root ball you can. The more protected the roots are, the easier it will be to acclimate to it's new location.
  • Dig around the base of the clump in a circle and use a lifting motion when digging under the plant to start separating it from the mother plant. This will help loosen the roots and lift the clump out.
  • Use a pitchfork to get underneath and help lift the root ball out.
  • Continue digging and lifting. It took me about 10-15 minutes to get two clumps out but was well worth the effort. I got FREE plants now!
  • Immediately replant the baby clumps in another area then water it. In general, hydrangeas prefer morning light and afternoon shade.
  • Since this is a transplant, keep an eye on it after planting. Make sure the leaves stay healthy as they fill out. The plant will likely show some signs of stress while it takes time to acclimate in its new home. Do not fertilize it. Only back fill the garden hold with good healthy garden soil. Add soil amendments like compost, manure and peat moss if the bag of garden soil doesn't have it mixed in.
  • Do not expect much out of the transplants this season while they devote their energy to developing a good root system. As long as the plant continues to leaf out and stays green, they will be fine. With gardening, good things come to those who wait.
Step 1: Look at hydrangea and see where the plant naturally wants to split off.
Step 2: Start digging around the baby to pull it out. The roots are tough but keep at it!
Step 3: Separate and lift out the baby hydrangea.
Step 4: Replant in another location.

What Do You Think?

Isn't that so cool? I really hope this works. Google search results sound pretty positive, so I'm going to keep an eye on them like I would any other new transplant and hope for the best! Like I mentioned earlier, I'm not expecting much from it this season. And I'd rather it doesn't flower this season anyway so that it focuses on developing a good healthy root system in its new home.

For more tips and tricks about hydrangeas, click here.

Resources for this project:

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Adolfo
    on Aug 14, 2020

    Is it recommended to do the splitting in a particular time of the year? Spring, fall or summer? I don’t mention winter since I’m in the north east and the ground would be frozen solid during that time.

  • Khawkey
    on Aug 26, 2020

    BEFORE DOING THIS: Make sure that you know which type of hydrangea you have. Ours only flower on SECOND YEAR WOOD. Therefore, if you cut back the stems that grew last year, then you will not have any blooms. This applies to cutting them back as well. The new green shoots on our plants are the ones that will bloom the following year. As the author states, if you do this, you probably won't have much of a bloom that year.

    We have had great success with layering branches in the ground for propagating new plants..

Join the conversation

3 of 18 comments
  • Jane
    on Aug 16, 2020

    Another method that works for propagating Hydrangeas is to layer some of the lower stems. You put a lower growing stem on the ground and cover with dirt. While still attached to the main plant it takes root. You then dig it out and move to its new location. I love “free” plants. It’s also good for trading with other gardeners.

    • Hi. My mother taught me how to do this. Hydrangea lower branches usually hang toward the ground. She would dig a little hole into the soil, bring the limb down and put a rock on it to hold it in place. It will root at the leaf junctions. Then cut it off from the mother plant and give it it’s own spot! I filled a yard with hydrangeas this way. P

  • Joanie
    on Aug 17, 2020

    I got me a Pitchfork and I'm gonna work on this one!! Thank you so much!!

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