The Beauty of Indoor Hydrangeas: A Complete Guide

Indoor hydrangeas, also known as gift hydrangeas, grace the shelves of warehouse clubs, box stores, grocery stores, and florists from Easter through Mother’s Day. These captivating plants, adorned with their unique and colorful blooms, are almost impossible to resist. However, they often lack essential care instructions, leaving many unsure of how to care for them once they finish blooming. While we don’t sell indoor hydrangeas, we are here to share our expertise and provide guidance, whether you receive one as a gift or give it to yourself.

What Sets Indoor Hydrangeas Apart?

Indoor hydrangeas, primarily Hydrangea macrophylla, are developed specifically for the gift plant market. Plant breeders focus on their suitability for greenhouse production, high-quality disease-resistant foliage, and of course, their stunning and vibrant blooms. Unlike their outdoor counterparts, little consideration is given to their long-term performance. As the name suggests, these hydrangeas are meant to be enjoyed indoors for the duration of their bloom.

Caring for Your Indoor Hydrangea

To ensure your indoor hydrangea blooms last as long as possible, find a cool, bright spot for it away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature changes. When you bring it home, check the soil surface. It should feel slightly moist. If it feels dry or the pot seems light, it’s time to water. However, be mindful of any non-draining decorative outer containers or foil wrappers that may hold excess water. Remove these before watering and return the hydrangea to its decorative element once it has thoroughly drained.

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The key to extending the bloom time of your hydrangea is to maintain a cool and well-watered environment, making sure the soil remains moist without being soggy.

To Trim or Not to Trim?

As the flower color fades, you can choose to either leave the spent blooms or snip them off. Some blooms age more gracefully than others. Once all the flowers have opened and faded, the hydrangea will not produce any more blooms for that season, especially if you are growing it indoors.

Post-Bloom Care

Despite being sold as indoor hydrangeas, these plants are not suitable as houseplants. Growing them indoors under regular household conditions greatly limits their chances of long-term success. The light levels and temperatures inside a home do not support the growth of flower buds, and the low humidity and lack of air circulation can lead to pest or disease outbreaks.

If weather permits, you can attempt to plant the hydrangea outdoors. However, keep in mind that most indoor hydrangeas were not developed for outdoor performance. Many are not cold tolerant and will not survive winter in areas colder than USDA zone 7 or 8. Planting it outdoors in a protected spot with a layer of mulch over the roots can yield the best results.

Outdoor Hydrangeas as Gift Plants?

Yes, outdoor hydrangeas are also available as gift plants, especially around Mother’s Day. These varieties are specifically developed for the outdoor, landscape, and garden market. They are selected for their ability to thrive in nursery production and withstand long-term outdoor conditions. If your plant comes with outdoor planting instructions, you can assume it is safe to enjoy indoors for a few weeks before transitioning it to its permanent spot outdoors.

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Indoor hydrangeas bring a touch of natural beauty into any space. While their lifespan may be limited, the joy and elegance they provide during their bloom make them a delightful gift or personal indulgence. Remember to care for them attentively, and consider the possibility of planting them outdoors to enjoy their beauty for seasons to come.

Hydrangea
Image source: Ames Farm Center

Ames Farm Center