Best Hydrangeas For Small Gardens

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.

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small blue hydrangea shrub

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.

limelight hydrangea

Dwarf hydrangeas

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.

small hydrangea plant

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.

small white hydrangea flowers

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.

potted hydrangeas

Pruning hydrangeas

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. [1]

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.

hydrangea flowers

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.


Have you tried growing dwarf hydrangea shrubs in a small garden? Let me know in the comments below.

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small hydrangea varieties

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Susan

    Hi all I’m hoping someone can help me. I’m looking for dwarf hydrangea seeds. I’m not having much luck as I live in northern Ireland and can’t get anybody to send them to my address. Would anybody know a company I could try?

  2. Lyosha

    I love hydrangeas! so cute and the scent is fantastic. If I had a garden I would love to have them in it. hopefully one day

  3. Elizabeth Ervin

    I never knew these were called hydrangeas. They are on of my list of favorite flowers. So vibrant.

  4. Laura Linklater

    Amazing! My MIL just sent me a picture of her hydrangeas in the UK and your blog post came at the perfect time! I really needed some information on the basics (I know nothing apart from what I would like!)

  5. Riyah Speaks

    I’ve always found hydrangeas to be so pretty. I don’t have a garden but I’m glad I learned something new.

  6. Erica (The Prepping Wife)

    I feel like you were reading my mind this week. My husband and I were just talking about hydrangeas and their colors, and planting them. My aunt had them when I was a kid, and I loved the vibrant colors, so they’ve been on my list of flowers I want at my house as well. I am a big fan, and this blog post came at the perfect time!

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