How To Transplant a Hydrangea?

Transplanting a Hydrangea shrub is a simple task, provided you have prepared for it properly and have chosen a good time to move it. Perhaps you’re moving it from one spot in the garden to another, or maybe from the garden to a container. Regardless, all you need to transplant your plant is a shovel and a large pot!

Transplant your Hydrangea by digging a hole, then digging out the shrub’s root ball, and moving the root ball into the first hole that you dug. Fill the hole with fertilized soil, soak the root ball thoroughly in water, and continue to water every two or three days to help the plant’s roots set.

If your Hydrangea is moving to a container, fill it about a third of the way with soil and follow the above instructions, instead of moving the root ball into the pot.

The remainder of this article will detail the steps to successfully transplanting a Hydrangea and offer tips on how to ensure your plant recovers well from the move.

5 Steps to Transplanting Your Hydrangea

Moving your Hydrangea from one place to another can be done in five easy steps. While you really only need a shovel and sometimes a pot (if you’re moving the Hydrangea to a container), there are a few other materials you may want to consider using, such as:

  • Gardening gloves
  • A durable bag or a wheelbarrow to transfer plants in
  • A trowel to help remove the shrub’s root ball

1. Dig the New Home First

Before even embarking on the transplant process, dig into the shrub’s new home first. It’s essential to do this at the very beginning because the longer the Hydrangea’s root ball is exposed, the longer it could take for it to form a robust root system in its new location.

From the moment you dig the shrub up, the plant is at high risk of experiencing transplant shock. Transplant shock refers to the stress that a plant with disturbed roots can experience, making it more susceptible to damage and root death.

It’s a process that occurs when the plant’s root system isn’t sufficient for its size and general needs.

If you’re transplanting a large shrub, make sure its new location is deep and wide enough to accommodate its root system. Additionally, if you’re moving a shrub to a container, make sure the container is large – at least twenty inches wide – as Hydrangeas roots grow rapidly once developed and will quickly outgrow a pot any smaller.

2. Dig the Hydrangea Up

When the Hydrangea’s new home is prepared, you can begin the process of digging the shrub’s root ball up. To do this, you’ll need a shovel, trowel, and, if desired, a bag or wheelbarrow to carry the plant in.

Hydrangeas can be very large shrubs, meaning their root systems are heavy and sometimes difficult to remove. To protect yourself from injury, have a second person around to help carry the shrub.

A wheelbarrow is a great option to avoid having to carry a heavy shrub from one location to another.

Push your shovel deep into the ground in a circle around the shrub. Generally, Hydrangea roots don’t grow deeper than about six inches. So, your shovel will hit the root ball about six to seven inches in.

Dig until you can lift the root ball out from all around the shrub. Remember, you may need a second person to help you remove it with another shovel or trowel.

3. Make the Transplant

Once you’ve dug up the root ball, it’s time to make the move.

You can place the Hydrangea bush in a durable bag or wheelbarrow to move it to its new location. Another handy, durable yard tool is the Gorilla Cart from, which is slightly more compact than a wheelbarrow.

With four wheels, a handle, and removable sides, the Gorilla Cart makes heavy-duty yard work much easier on the back and legs.

Consider pruning the shrub prior to moving if it’s very large, or use gardening cord ties to tie some of the branches together to prevent them from getting in the way.

With someone’s help, lower the root ball into the first hole that you dug, which should be about six to seven inches deep and just as wide (as was the shrub’s last home).

If you’re looking for good cord ties, try these Generic Plant Ties from They’re great for office management but you can also use them to tie your hydrangea’s branches together. This one comes in a 100 ft roll so you can use it for anything else you like.

If you are moving the Hydrangea to a container, remember that their fast-growing roots will not succeed in a small pot. A Hydrangea container should be twenty or more inches wide and have a drainage hole at the bottom.

4. Fill In the Hole

Once your Hydrangea is settled in its new home, begin to fill in the hole with soil. Here, you can use a mixture of older soil (the stuff you dug up) and newer, fertilized soil.

Hydrangeas love compost, so feel free to use some when transplanting your shrub. You can mix compost into the top layers of soil around the plant.

5. Soak Root Ball

Finally, soak the root ball specifically (not the entire Hydrangea) to ensure that it has water in its new environment. If the weather is warm during the move, you’ll want to provide the shrub with plenty of water in the coming days and weeks to help it establish a strong root system.

If the weather is cooler during the time of transplant, it means that the Hydrangea will shortly be going dormant (if it’s not already, as we will discuss below). Thus one thorough watering should suffice until the growing season begins again.

Keep an eye on your Hydrangea after the move. Signs of transplant shock include curling, yellowing leaves, and overall plant death. Hydrangeas prefer to live in moist soil, so if the shrub isn’t dormant, make sure to water it regularly. The more water a transplanted plant has, the better its chances of survival.

There are a few other things to remember when transplanting your Hydrangea, including what time of year you’re doing it and what to do if your plant looks like it’s dying.

When Should I Transplant My Hydrangea?

As previously mentioned, Hydrangea transplant timing is everything. This is because Hydrangeas are perennial plants, meaning that they come back to life every year.

So, moving it in the middle of the growing season– while it can be done– isn’t the greatest timing for the shrub, as it disturbs the growth process for the following year.

If you’re thinking of transplanting your Hydrangea, you should do it just before or after the dormancy season. Before the ground freezes in the fall, move your Hydrangea and give it one good watering before it goes dormant for the winter.

If for whatever reason, you can’t transplant your shrub at any time other than in the middle of the growing season, it can still be done. The disturbed roots and excessive heat of summer can stress the Hydrangea and dry it out quickly; this explains the importance of having the new hole dug first, so the shrub’s roots aren’t exposed to the environment for too long.

Needless to say, transplanting the shrub in the middle of Winter is incredibly difficult, especially if you want to move it from an outdoor garden. Thus, the best times to make the move are in the Spring and Fall.

How To Tell if My Hydrangea Is Dormant

A dormant Hydrangea will have lost all of its leaves and flowers as the weather gets colder and the ground begins to freeze. This will happen every year in the Fall. However, the Hydrangea’s stem should still be green and lively. Additionally, the Hydrangea should begin to “come back to life” in the Spring– if it’s not and also shows some of the below signs, it may be dead.

If the Hydrangea is dead, the stem will have turned yellow to brown and may wilt. The flowers and leaves won’t return in the Spring, and you’ll generally witness stunted growth of the plant. The flowers will turn brown, dry up and drop off the plant.

Keep in mind that sometimes the shrub will skip a growing season right after the transplant, so be patient when you’re nursing the Hydrangea back to good health. It can take a considerable length of time for a Hydrangea to redevelop its roots.

To help this process along, you can ensure it is getting enough sunlight. If you’re living in a US state with lots of suns (like Nevada) then this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you’re living in a place that often experiences cloud cover (such as Connecticut) then you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure your hydrangea is happy.

Garden State Bulb Hydrangea Nikko Blue Live Bare Root, Spring Planting (Bag of 4)


In summary, you can transplant your Hydrangea by digging a hole, digging up the plant’s root ball, and moving it to its new location. If you’ve moved the plant before Winter, make sure to give the root ball a thorough soak.

If you’ve moved it during the Spring, continuously water the Hydrangea to help it establish a strong root system. Depending on the size, these plants can be hefty, so having a second person nearby to help is recommended.

If you follow these steps, successfully transplanting your Hydrangea shrub should be a straightforward and fulfilling task.

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