Small hydrangea shrubs are ideal for creating a colorful display in urban gardens, but how do you keep your hydrangea small?
In this article I’ll show you how to plant, prune and care for hydrangeas to keep them small and compact.
This post contains affiliate links. Please read the disclosure for more info.
Hydrangeas are hardy perennial shrubs with large flower heads that can be pink, purple, blue or cream colored.
Hydrangeas can tolerate a wide range of conditions so they’ll do well in most gardens.
In cool climates, hydrangeas can be planted in a spot that receives full sun, but in warmer climates they’ll grow best in a position that receives morning sun and afternoon shade.
Some hydrangea varieties can grow up to 10 feet (3 metres) tall and wide, but you can keep them to a smaller, manageable size with regular pruning or choose a dwarf hydrangea that will stay small without a lot of pruning.
Planting dwarf hydrangeas in your garden is a great way to enjoy these beautiful shrubs without requiring a lot of pruning to keep them compact.
Most dwarf hydrangeas grow to around 3 to 5 feet (90 to 150 cm) tall so they’re great for small gardens.
Little lime hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) are one of my favorite small hydrangea varieties.
They grow 3 to 5 feet tall and have beautiful light green flowers that turn light pink as the flowers mature.
Paraplu (Hydrangea macrophylla) is a smaller version of the popular Bigleaf hydrangea.
They have long lasting pink flowers and grow 3 feet (90 cm) tall.
Little Honey (Hydrangea quercifolia) is a small deciduous hydrangea with white flowers and bright yellow foliage that turns red before the leaves fall off. It grows 3 to 4 feet (90 to 120 cm) tall.
Mini Penny (Hydrangea macrophylla) has beautiful pink or blue flowers depending on the acidity of the soil.
It grows 3 to 4 feet (90 to 120 cm) tall and regular deadheading will encourage a second round of blooms in the fall.
Pee Wee (Hydrangea quercifolia) is a mini oakleaf hydrangea variety that grows 4 feet (120 cm) tall.
It has beautiful white flowers and blooms during the spring.
Planting hydrangeas in containers
Potted hydrangeas are ideal for small gardens, courtyards, balconies and decks.
You can plant any variety of hydrangea in a pot because the container will keep them to a smaller size than if they were planted out in the garden.
Choose a large container that has drainage holes in the bottom and use a quality potting mix that is easily draining.
Make a hole in the soil, place the plant in the hole and backfill with soil.
Leave an inch or two at the top of the pot so the water doesn’t wash over the edge when you water it.
Place the pot somewhere that receives at least six hours of sun each day.
I like to use a plant stand with wheels, which makes it a lot easier to move it around to catch the sun.
Water twice a week during spring and summer while they’re actively growing and less often when the weather cools down.
Use a slow release fertilizer in early spring to promote beautiful, large flowers.
Hydrangeas can grow 12 inches (30 cm) a year, so regular pruning is essential to keep them small and compact.
The best time to prune hydrangeas will depend on the type of hydrangea because some varieties bloom on old wood, while others bloom on new wood.
Hydrangeas that bloom on old growth like Mountain hydrangeas, Bigleaf hydrangeas and Climbing hydrangeas should be pruned in late summer.
Hydrangeas that bloom on new growth like Smooth hydrangeas and Panicle hydrangeas should be pruned in late winter to early spring and you can cut them back by two thirds. 
Potted hydrangeas grow a lot slower than shrubs planted in the garden but they’ll also benefit from a yearly prune to keep their size small.
So there are my tips for keeping hydrangeas small and compact.
With the right care you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful flowers of these low maintenance shrubs, even if you have limited space in your garden.