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Cutting and Propagating Hydrangeas

Martha Stewart Living, Volume 19 April/May 1994

Hydrangeas are easy to propagate. Cuttings may be taken from a shrub at any stage of maturity, or even from hydrangeas cut for an arrangement. Once the cuttings root, they can be planted outside.

1. Start with a stem at least 20 inches long, cut it into 4-inch pieces, and remove the leaves.

2. Dip the ends of the cut stems in rooting compound to stimulate root development.

3. Place the stems in a box of water-soaked sand. Place the box outside in the shade, and mist the stems frequently. They will root in 4 to 5 weeks. To test, pull gently on the top of the stem. If there is resistance, the roots have taken hold. At this point, pot the plants in individual containers or transplant them to a shady part of the garden. For a hefty-size shrub, plant 3 or 4 cuttings close together. It takes only 3 years for cuttings to grow into shrubs large enough to provide cut flowers.

When your shrub is mature enough to make plenty of blossoms, you will undoubtedly want to pick some for indoor enjoyment. However, it's essential to properly condition cut hydrangeas, or they will wilt within 2 hours of cutting.

1. Cut them early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and place the ends of each stem in boiling water for 30 seconds, making sure that the steam does not burn the flower head.

2. Plunge the flowers up to their necks in cold water. Drape paper towels across the tops of the blossoms to cover them completely. Tuck paper towels down into the container (don't squash the flowers), and mist. Do not allow the paper towels to dry out. Hydrangeas will be fully conditioned and ready for arranging in 4 hours.


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