The Gift Hydrangea - What To Do With It

Managing The Foil Wrapped Hydrangea

Quite often we hear questions similar to the following:

"My daughter gave me a beautiful hydrangea for Mother's Day. It has done so well that I would like to know if I can plant it outside or should I grow it inside as a houseplant?"

Whether it was a gift or whether it was bought by you, hydrangeas that are purchased with foil around the pot are often different from those purchased at a nursery. The foil wrapped hydrangea has usually been grown for a one-time, spectacular show. The plant has been fed specifically to produce many large blooms quickly, quite often at the expense of the future health of the plant.

In addition, the hydrangeas chosen for this purpose are grown entirely in a greenhouse and may not be winter hardy in the areas in which they are purchased.

Q. You may ask, "If the area I live in is not warm enough to grow hydrangeas outdoors, can I grow them indoors like a houseplant?"

A. Growing hydrangeas indoors in a home setting is not very satisfactory for a number of reasons. Hydrangeas do best when they can have a period of dormancy, brought on by freezing weather. Except in a greenhouse, hydrangeas, indoors, draw insects, lose their leaves and seldom set bloom. They tend to dry out quickly and wilt, causing them to lose their vigor.

However, as you can see from the pictures below, some gift/florist-type hydrangeas can be grown very successfully in the landscape.

Even though it is not an ideal solution, if one lives in an apartment or in an area where hydrangeas cannot survive, it's possible to grow them indoors under certain conditions:

1) Place the hydrangea in the coolest room in your home; an unheated room is ideal.

2) Place it next to a window where it can get as much light as possible.

3) Most important: do not overwater it by allowing it to stand in water or by watering it too often. In the winter, it's best to keep it on the dry side, although it should never dry out so much that it wilts.

It is always best to plant the potted hydrangea outdoors whenever possible. It should only be planted outdoors in early to mid summer as it needs time to acclimate to outdoor conditions before winter arrives.

In summary, foil wrapped hydrangeas are best used as a temporary plant in ones home unless it can be planted in the garden.


Growing Gift Hydrangeas Outdoors

I have planted many foil wrapped hydrangeas outdoors, either in a pot or in the ground. The number of blooms I've had on all of these plants put together can be counted on two hands. From the email I receive, I don't think my experience is unusual, but I am hearing from more and more people with success stories about these type hydrangeas. Below are two.

The pictures of the pink mophead, to the left, was sent to me by Laura from north Louisiana. It is an example of a foil-wrapped hydrangea from Walmart that has been a complete success in the landscape. It has been in the ground in Louisiana for 4 years at the time of this picture. It even survived a killer ice storm in '99.

The picture on the right of the pink and blue hydrangeas was sent to me by Belinda from Greenville, SC. She says that her Mother-in-law loved hydrangeas, and these two plants were sent to her funeral. Belinda took them home and planted them next to each other near her porch.

She says that the plants "have flourished, and each summer I am pleasantly reminded of how much my Mother-in-law would enjoy the sight of them. One was pink and the other was purple. They have come together as one bush and bloom in a variety of shades from deep violet to almost magenta."

IDEA: Beth, is a "hydrangea aficionado" from Roanoke, VA. She writes that she's stumbled across an idea for continuing to enjoy hydrangeas she receives as a gift.

She says, " After they have been enjoyed inside, I plant the hydrangeas in terra-cotta pots and put them outside on my front covered-porch in late April. They seem to love the shaded area by day and the cool nights. I fertilize and water them often. The terra cotta pots keep them from being too wet...Some of the store bought ones from this year are actually growing new leaves and getting ready to flower again.

After awhile, Beth plants these hydrangeas in her yard. She now has a whole row of them - happy and healthy.


An Alternative to Gift Hydrangeas

If a foil wrapped hydrangea has stimulated your interest in growing hydrangeas, visit our online selection, and purchase a hydrangea that is sold for the landscape. The cost is similar to a "gift hydrangea". If you live in an area where mophead hydrangeas can be successfully grown, you will enjoy this nursery grown hydrangea for years and years.

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Author Judith King - Published 10-17-2017