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Martha's Step-By-Step Guide to Climbing Hydrangeas

Native to Asia, climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) thrive in shady and in sunny conditions, and are hardy to Zones 4 to 8. They flower in late spring and early summer, and show off their exfoliating reddish bark in winter. I love how they grow up tall mature trees, and have planted dozens throughout the farm. Here’s how to plant them.

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Step 1

Dig a hole approximately two feet away from the base of the tree. Loosen the earth six inches deeper than the height of the pot. Mix in a scoop of organic time-release fertilizer with the loosened soil.


Step 2

Remove the plant from its container, and score the roots with a sharp tool, like a hori hori or transplanting knife, to help the roots spread out in the ground.


Step 3

Position the plant at a 45-to-60-degree angle, so the tops of the foliage are touching the trunk and the roots are pointing away. Fill in with a blend of compost and the soil that was dug from the hole. Tamp down lightly.


Step 4

Give the plant a good, long soak with the hose for several minutes. Climbing hydrangeas are initially slow to take off, but once established (in about a couple of years), they will grow quickly and vigorously.