Taking Variegated Hydrangea Cuttings

While we were out of town this past weekend we visited one of my wife’s aunts. She has a custom built log cabin in the woods surrounded by her garden. Since her property is very shady one of the most prominent plants in her garden is her hydrangeas. She has several kinds of hydrangeas that I’ll show you in a later post, but I was fascinated by her variegated hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla). In the picture below you can see why. Even without blooms you would have an interesting plant to admire because of its variegated foliage, and the flowers aren’t half bad either!

Here’s a closeup of the variegated leaves. It has a creamy colored edging that sneaks inward toward the dark green heart of the leaf.

Can you guess what I did? Of course you could, it’s in the title of this post. I took cuttings! I managed to limit myself to four suitable stem tip cuttings for rooting. Each cutting has at least 2 nodes along its stem not including the node with the top leaves, 3 nodes in all.

One of the challenges I faced with the hydrangea cuttings was transportation. I needed a way to keep them moist over the course of a few days. I couldn’t root them while away from home so the solution was a plastic bag. By wrapping the cuttings in a moist paper towel I was able to keep the cuttings from drying out. I kept the cuttings indoors over the next couple days in a cool location until I was able to get to them. I took the cuttings on Saturday and rooted them Tuesday morning.

When I was ready to stick the cuttings I got my potting medium ready. It wasn’t anything complicated, just plain old sterilized playground sand in a cleaned out plastic container.

Then I put some rooting hormone powder into an old yogurt cup. Cleaned out of course! I try to re-use what I don’t recycle then recycle what I re-used. It’s a good idea to use a cup like this then discard the hormone to prevent spreading possible diseases or contagions through the new cuttings.

Then it was time for a dip. I made sure that the cut ends of the hydrangea cuttings were damp by running them for a second under some water. Then I dipped them in the powder and shook off any excess.

Finally I stuck the cuttings into the sand and watered them. It may be unconventional but I don’t put drainage holes in the sand containers, nor do I use misters. I’ve found that as long as I keep the sand damp, not soaking wet, that the cuttings do fine. This is probably because the sand is (or should be) completely sterile. If I monitor the moisture every couple days then I should have some newly rooted variegated hydrangeas in a couple weeks! Once these baby hydrangeas have rooted I’ll give you a peak at their roots.

If you want more information on plant propagation check out The Basics of Cuttings.

11 thoughts on “Taking Variegated Hydrangea Cuttings”

  1. My variegated hydrangeas are actually blooming this year! I took the cuttings two years ago and I can say they root easily. But like you said, even without the blooms the plants are great. I used a mix of peat, potting soil and a tad bit of compost to root them. Thanks for the step by step and I bet your Aunt’s garden is beautiful.

  2. I, too, love the variegated hydrangeas. I often use the leaves of the variegated ones with the flowers of the mopheads to make a stunning flower arrangement.

    Always Growing

  3. Tina,

    I’ve used the peat before also but I haven’t used compost. I’m sure there are many methods that will work well for rooting!


    They do look kind of like hosta leaves with the variegation.


    I bet those flower arrangements look fantastic!


    That’s why I couldn’t resist taking a few cuttings.


    The flowers are great! I like the lacecaps better than the mopheads.

  4. That is a really unique hydragea. Your cutting technique is very interesting. I’ll have to dry it out. When I make cuttings, I just stick it in water and wait for it to root. Not much success, but I think I may try your method!

  5. Gail,

    Is it too much clay and limestone or is there just not a place for it?


    Definitely give it a try! The rooting hormone really works wonders. My success rate with it is very high. Don’t use it on vegetables or herbs though. Most of them, like rosemary and tomatoes, will root well without it anyhow.

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