Hydrangea Spacing: How Far Apart Should You Plant Hydrangeas?

Thinking of planting several hydrrangea shrubs this season but aren't quite sure how far apart they need to be? The answer to this question will depend quite a bit on the type of hydrangea you plant, and where you plant them. In this article, gardening expert and hydrangea enthusiast Jill Drago walks through how far apart you should be spacing the hydrangeas in your garden.

Close up of a gardener wearing green gloves using a shovel to dig a hole in a garden next to a small hydrangea plant with bright pink flowers. Another small hydrangea grows in the background with pale green flowers. The garden is lined with round concrete stones.

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Hydrangeas can be used in so many different ways in the garden, from containers to hedges and everything in between. These large, dazzling flowers come in an array of dreamy colors and unique shapes. But hydrangea plant spacing dramatically impacts their growth and flowering potential.

There are bushy shrub varieties of hydrangea and there are also climbing varieties. Some can even be shaped to look like trees. With so many species and varieties, how do you know how much space to provide when planting hydrangeas in your garden?

Simply put, there should be enough space for the plants to thrive without overcrowding them. Still not sure exactly how much space to give your hydrangeas when planting? Use this guide to give your shrubs the proper space they need to shine.

The Short Answer

All species have different planting recommendations. With the exception of climbing hydrangeas, the best rule of thumb to follow is to space your hydrangeas with a one foot buffer around the width of a mature plant. For example, if your variety will be 5 feet wide at maturity, you should plant them 6 feet apart.

The Long Answer

Close up of a small flowering plant with mophead clusters of flowers in purple and pink. The plant's foliage is dark green, oval in shape, with a point at the tip and serrated edges. The plant is planted in a garden with very dark topsoil. There are other plants in the blurred background.
Proper spacing ensures a healthy hydrangea plant in the garden.

There are many reasons to ensure proper spacing of plants. Every plant needs space to spread its foliage and for the root system to expand. Sunlight needs room to pass through. Water and rain need to reach the roots in the soil.

When plants are too close, overcrowding can occur. This can lead to fungal disease, suffocation, and pest infestations. Nutrient loss is also another big problem with overcrowded plants. These congested plants compete for nutrients, water, and soil space. Not enough of these resources means the plants will not survive.

From the beginning, it is an optimal practice to provide proper spacing for any plants, including hydrangeas, to avoid problems. Though a one-foot buffer around the width of a mature plant seems simple, you will have to know more about hydrangeas and the different varieties before digging your hole.

About Hydrangeas

Large flowering shrub with rounded flower clusters in purple and dark pink blooming all over. The foliage is green, oval-shaped, with a pointed tip on each leaf.
These shrubs are resistant to most pests and diseases and prefer to grow in partial shade.

Hydrangeas are beautiful flowering shrubs that enjoy partial shade, but studies show that too much shade can lead to more disease pressure. There are several hydrangeas that love a well-shaded spot in the garden, however. The exception to this rule is the panicle hydrangea, which loves full sun.

There are six hydrangea species commonly grown in gardens:

Hydrangea anomalaHydrangea anomala, also known as climbing hydrangea, loves to climb up trees or the face of a building. Its flowers are lacecap and white.
Hydrangea arborescensH. arborescens, or smooth hydrangea, are shade-loving shrubs that boast huge dome-shaped flowers that are usually white, but recent hybridizations are producing some pink flowers.
Hydrangea macrophyllaH. macrophylla, or big leaf hydrangea, is known for its blue blooms and has both mophead and lacecap flowers in various colors.
Hydrangea paniculataH. paniculata, the sun-loving panicle hydrangea has cone-shaped flowers that range in color from green to white to pink. Sometimes all three colors at the same time!
Hydrangea quercifoliaH. quercifolia, or oak leaf hydrangea, has intricately cut leaves that are reminiscent of the leaves of an oak tree. Their flowers are long and spike-shaped.
Hydrangea serrataH. serrata, or mountain hydrangea, is a close relative to H. macrophylla. The flowers of this species range in color and are lacecap in appearance. The leaves of the mountain hydrangea are smaller than those of the bigleaf species.

Hydrangeas are tough plants with few issues with pests or diseases. To keep them safe from fungal pathogens, it is best to water them at the base of the plant. Keeping your garden beds clear of other plant debris and weeds will also help. Maintenance is fairly low, with little need to prune unless to preserve size and shape.

Transplanting Tips

Flowering plant with barely blooming white and purple flower clusters freshly planted in a large round hole. The soil at the base is darker than the rest of the soil, indicating moisture. A round, orange-red empty plastic container is to the left of the plant. A shovel stands erect to the right of the plant. A small mound of dry dirt is also to the right, near the shovel.
When transplanting these shrubs, consider the distance between plants so they have enough room to grow.

When bringing home a young hydrangea to plant in your garden, there are some things you can do to make sure the plant acclimates to its new home. Follow this simple guide, as well as plant it with enough room, and your hydrangea should not only become accustomed to your garden but flourish there as well.

Water First

Before you begin, water the plant while it is still in its nursery pot. A well-watered seedling will be less prone to transplant shock. Transplant shock can look like dried, wilting leaves and flowers. This can be remedied with extra care once it is in the ground. You may need to be patient while waiting for the plant to rejuvenate.

Dig the Hole

Dig a hole twice as wide as the size of the pot. If your soil is dense or clay, amend it with some organic material. This could be compost or peat. Adding organic material can help the water drain, which will help prevent root rot.

Plant at the Right Depth

Keep the base of the plant at the same depth as it is in your nursery pot. You do not want to plant these shrubs deeply. Water immediately after planting.

Choose the Right Time

It is recommended that you plant them in late spring or fall. No matter your planting timeline, keep it watered until it is established.

Once you have decided on the perfect variety for your garden, it is essential to know the mature size of that variety. Planting your hydrangeas at the correct spacing will allow you to enjoy them more and prune them less. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite hydrangeas and find out how much space to give them when planting.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Close up of a flowering shrub. The flower heads are bright white, large, rounded, and take up most of the surface of the shrub. The dark green foliage peeks out and is ovate with serrated edges.
‘Annabelle’ produces huge white ball-shaped flowers.

This is a smooth cultivar with massive white ball-shaped flowers. ‘Annabelle’ is a rapid grower and will reach its full size of 5 high feet very quickly. It has a spread of 4-6 feet and should be planted 6 feet away from other plants.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’

Close up of a blue flowerhead that is domed and attached to a shrub. A small branch with leaves peeks out to the right with green ovate leaves that are delicately serrated.
This cultivar has true blue flowers and prefers to 6-foot spacing.

‘Nikko Blue’ is a classic blue hydrangea. Its mophead flowers are abundant through the summer. This shrub matures at 4-6 feet tall and wide and should be spaced 6 feet apart.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

Panicles of flowers in pale green, almost white, growing on a shrub. The large shrub blurs toward the background. The foliage is dark green and ovate with a pointed tip and serrated edges.
‘Limelight’ produces large green flowers that turn pink over time and last until frost.

This panicle flower variety can grow anywhere from 6-8 feet high and wide. The flowers on ‘Limelight‘ are very large. They begin the season in hues of green and later turn to pink, red, or burgundy, and last through the frost. Space these plants 8 feet apart.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’

Flowering shrub growing in sunlight. The flower heads have small green flowers and larger flowers with rounded white petals growing more on the outside. The leaves are oakleaf shaped and green with deep veins. More of the same shrub grows in the blurred background.
Since this variety grows up to 3 feet high and wide, it should be planted 4 feet apart.

‘Pee Wee’ oakleaf is a smaller oakleaf variety with creamy white panicle-shaped flowers that will fade to pink in the fall. This shrub will only reach 3 feet in height and width and should be planted 4 feet apart.

Hydrangea serrata ‘Tiny Tuff Stuff’

close up of a lacecap flower head with tiny purple flowers on the inner part of the flowerhead and double blooming pure white flowers encircling the purple center. The sun shines brightly on the flowers and a few shiny leaves that have serrated edges.
‘Tiny Tuff Stuff’ is a compact variety that produces lacy flowers in blue and pink.

This mountain hydrangea is compact and a great choice for smaller spaces. It has small lacecap flowers that range from blue to pink depending on the pH of your soil. ‘Tiny Tuff Stuff’ will max out at 2 feet in height and width and should be planted 3 feet from other shrubs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I plant my hydrangeas too close together?

When you plant hydrangeas too closely together, they will not receive ample water and nutrients due to competition. You will notice small flowers, or possibly no flowers at all. The foliage runs the risk of wilting over and over again to the point of damage.

If you are attempting to plant a hedge, buy the largest size hydrangea available for the biggest show. It is so important to keep the full size of the hydrangea in mind no matter what species you plant. Be patient, hydrangeas are relatively fast growers and they will fill in in no time!

What if I don’t have enough space for hydrangeas?

If you are really desiring hydrangeas in your garden but you may not have enough space for them, you can always plant them in a container garden. You can move these pots around your yard as needed, and even overwintered.

To successfully grow hydrangeas in a pot you will want to start with a container that is larger than the nursery pot your hydrangea is growing in. Hydrangeas need room for their roots to grow so they can take up the correct amount of water and nutrients to grow healthy and strong.

Final Thoughts

With so many different varieties of hydrangeas, you are bound to find one that will fit perfectly in your garden. Just remember to keep the full size of your plant in mind for proper hydrangea spacing. Enjoy these low-maintenance beauties in your garden for years to come.

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