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How to Plant a Hydrangea Tree + Other Hydrangea Tree Tips!

Getting reading to add a hydrangea tree to your garden and wondering how to plant a hydrangea tree? See these hydrangea tree tips for help!

How to Plant a Hydrangea Tree

What is a Hydrangea Tree?

A Hydrangea Tree is a unique and visually stunning horticultural creation that combines the elegance of a traditional hydrangea shrub with the structured form of a small tree.

This ornamental plant is cultivated through careful pruning and training, coaxing the hydrangea to grow into a single, sturdy trunk topped by a rounded canopy of vibrant and voluminous blooms.

The distinctive appearance of the hydrangea tree adds a touch of charm and sophistication to gardens, patios, and landscapes.

With its eye-catching clusters of flowers, ranging in colors from white flowers and pinks to blues and purples, the hydrangea tree stands as a captivating focal point, making it a popular choice for garden enthusiasts seeking both beauty and botanical ingenuity.

This unique tree can come in a few different types, including panicle hydrangeas and others. (It is a bit more rare to find bigleaf hydrangeas in tree form.)

Be sure to read our guide explaining the varieties of hydrangeas if you’re unsure about what to get.

Related Reading: 15 Best Companion Plants for Endless Summer Hydrangea

Why Get a Hydrangea Tree in the First Place?

A hydrangea tree can be a desirable addition to a garden or landscape for several reasons:

  1. Aesthetic Appeal: The tree’s unique form, with a single trunk and a rounded canopy of colorful blooms, adds a touch of elegance and visual interest to outdoor spaces.
  2. Versatility: Hydrangea Trees are versatile in terms of placement. They can be planted in gardens, used as standalone ornamental specimens, or incorporated into larger landscaping schemes.
  3. Seasonal Interest: Hydrangea Trees are known for their large, showy flowers that bloom in a variety of colors, depending on the specific hydrangea variety. These blooms provide vibrant seasonal interest, often lasting from spring through fall.
  4. Low Maintenance: While hydrangeas, in general, are known for their low maintenance. The hydrangea tree, once established, requires minimal care. Regular pruning to maintain its shape and remove dead wood is typically all that’s needed.
  5. Adaptability: Hydrangeas are adaptable to different soil types and climates, making them suitable for a wide range of gardening environments.
  6. Symbolic Significance: Hydrangeas are sometimes associated with various symbolic meanings, such as gratitude, abundance, and heartfelt emotions. Planting a Hydrangea Tree can carry sentimental value in addition to its aesthetic benefits.
  7. Attracts Pollinators: The large, showy blooms of hydrangeas attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, contributing to the overall health of the garden ecosystem.
  8. Longevity: With proper care, hydrangea trees can have a relatively long lifespan, providing lasting beauty to a landscape.

Click here to shop for hydrangea trees at Nature Hills Nursery online!

First Editions® Vanilla Strawberry™ Hydrangea Tree Form

from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

When to Plant Hydrangea Tree

The best time to plant a hydrangea tree is generally in the early spring or late fall, depending on your local climate and weather conditions. Here’s a breakdown:

Early Spring:

Planting in early spring, after the threat of frost has passed, allows the hydrangea tree to establish its roots before the heat of summer. Aim for a time when the soil is workable but not excessively wet.

Late Fall:

Planting in late fall, after the hottest days of summer have passed but before the ground freezes, is also a suitable time.

Fall planting allows the hydrangea to focus on root development during the dormant winter months, promoting a strong foundation for spring growth.


  • In warmer climates, where winters are mild, early fall planting can be particularly advantageous.
  • Avoid planting during the hottest part of summer to prevent stress on the newly planted tree.

Regardless of the season, it’s crucial to monitor weather conditions and choose a time when the hydrangea tree will have a chance to acclimate to its new environment.

Adequate watering and care during the initial establishment period are essential, regardless of the planting season.

Now let’s get into the details of how to plant a hydrangea tree.

How to Plant a Hydrangea Tree

Planting a hydrangea tree requires careful consideration of the site, soil conditions, and proper care. Follow these detailed instructions to ensure a successful planting:

1. Choose the Right Variety:

  • Select a hydrangea variety suitable for tree form, such as the “PeeGee” (Paniculata Grandiflora) or “Limelight” hydrangea.
  • Consider the climate and choose a variety that is well-suited to your region.
  • Learn about your variety before putting it in the ground. Some require full sun and others like partial shade.

2. Select a Suitable Location:

  • Choose a location with well-draining soil. Hydrangeas generally prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil.
  • Ensure the planting site receives partial to full sunlight. Morning sunlight and afternoon shade are often ideal. Some hydrangea plants do well in more shade.
  • Some hydrangea trees do well in a large pot. But keep in mind that this will ultimately limit the size of your ornamental tree. However, this can make it easier to control how much water and sun your plant is getting.

3. Prepare the Soil:

  • Test the soil pH and amend it if necessary to achieve the preferred acidity.
  • Enhance soil drainage by adding organic matter such as compost. Well-drained soil will help protect against things like powdery mildew.

4. Dig a Proper Hole:

  • Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the hydrangea’s root ball but just as deep.
  • Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to encourage root penetration and a strong root system overall.

5. Planting:

  • Remove the hydrangea from its container and gently loosen the roots.
  • Place the hydrangea in the center of the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball sits slightly above the soil surface.
  • Backfill the hole with soil and tamp it down gently to remove air pockets.

6. Watering:

  • Water the newly planted hydrangea thoroughly. Provide enough water to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  • Mulch around the base of the tree to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

7. Pruning:

  • If the tree has been pre-pruned into a tree form, little pruning may be needed initially. (More info on pruning is provided below!)
  • For subsequent years, prune in late winter or early spring to shape the tree and remove dead or weak branches.

8. Fertilizing:

  • It is a good idea to apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to promote healthy growth.
  • Follow the recommended dosage on the fertilizer packaging.

9. Protection from Frost:

  • In regions with late spring frosts, protect new buds by covering the tree with a breathable fabric if frost is predicted.

10. Ongoing Care:

  • Monitor soil moisture regularly, especially during dry periods.
  • Keep an eye out for pests and diseases, and treat for them promptly if necessary.

By following these detailed instructions, you can establish a healthy and thriving hydrangea tree that will contribute beauty to your garden for years to come.

Limelight Hydrangea Tree

Still need more info? Here are some other helpful tips about caring for a hydrangea tree!

How Tall Does a Hydrangea Tree Grow?

The height of a hydrangea tree can vary depending on the specific variety, growing conditions, and how it’s cultivated.

Generally, hydrangea trees can reach a height of 8 to 15 feet (2.4 to 4.5 meters), but some varieties may grow even taller under optimal conditions.

It’s important to note that hydrangea trees are created through pruning and training, typically forming a single trunk with a rounded canopy.

The size can also be influenced by factors such as:

  1. Hydrangea Variety: Different hydrangea varieties have varying growth habits and sizes. For example, the “Pee Gee” hydrangea (Paniculata Grandiflora) is commonly used for tree form and can grow quite tall.
  2. Pruning Practices: Regular pruning is essential to maintain the tree form and size. Pruning is typically done in late winter or early spring to remove dead or weak branches and shape the tree.
  3. Growing Conditions: The overall health and size of the hydrangea tree can be influenced by the quality of the soil, the amount of sunlight it receives, and the availability of water.

When considering a hydrangea tree for your garden, it’s advisable to research the specific variety you’re interested in and to follow proper pruning and care practices to achieve and maintain the desired size and form.

Keep in mind that the size mentioned here is a general range, and actual growth may vary based on local conditions and specific cultivars.

How to Prune a Hydrangea Tree

Pruning a hydrangea tree is essential to maintain its shape, encourage healthy growth, and enhance flowering.

Here are general guidelines on how to prune a hydrangea tree:


Prune hydrangea trees in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This is because many hydrangea varieties produce flowers on new wood, and pruning at this time encourages the development of new shoots.


Use sharp, clean pruning shears or loppers to make clean cuts and minimize the risk of disease.

Remove Dead Wood:

Start by removing any dead or damaged branches. Cut these back to the base or to a healthy, outward-facing bud.

Shape the Canopy:

If your hydrangea tree has become too dense or if you want to maintain a specific shape, selectively prune some of the older branches to open up the canopy. This allows sunlight and air circulation to reach the interior of the tree.

Control Size:

If you want to control the size of the tree, you can cut back the branches to the desired height. Make cuts just above a set of healthy buds.

Remove Weak Growth:

Identify and remove weak or spindly growth. Focus on keeping the strongest, healthiest branches.

Encourage New Growth:

To encourage the production of new flowering wood, prune back some of the older stems to just above a set of healthy buds. This helps rejuvenate the plant and promotes vigorous new growth.

Deadheading Spent Blooms:

If your hydrangea variety produces large flower heads, you can deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowering. Cut the old blooms just below the flower head.

Adjusting for Variety:

Be aware of the specific type of hydrangea you have, as different varieties may have different pruning requirements.

For example, “PeeGee” hydrangeas (Paniculata Grandiflora) can be pruned more aggressively, while some mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) may need more restrained pruning.

Always refer to the specific care guidelines for your hydrangea variety, as pruning requirements can vary. Additionally, be patient and observant, as hydrangeas may take a year or two to fully recover and show the results of pruning.

Where to Shop for a Hydrangea Tree Online

It isn’t always easy to find these unique and small trees for sale at your local nursery and garden centers.

The good news is that there are a handful of trusted online retailers that keep them in stock year-round. Sometimes this is the best way to get the exact hydrangea species you’re looking for.

Keep in mind the ideal times of the year to plant and enjoy! (I personally love the limelight hydrangea trees.)

Best Places To Buy Tree Hydrangeas Online:

That’s all for now hydrangea lover – until next time!

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