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It is beginning of September in central Europe and I have an hotensia (Hydrangea) which is currently not flowering. It barely survived the last winter, but I am happy that it came back with many leaves which look healthy. The hotensia grew quite a bit over the year, and it turned out that its pot is getting too small since the root-ball is very compact. It was easy to separate the root ball and the pot by simply holding the stems and shaking a bit. For that reasons I took the complete root ball and planted it as a whole into the garden in normal soil.

My question: My neighbor gave me a lecture that this will kill the plant and avoid it from ever flowering again. I seriously doubt that giving the roots more space without disturbing them would have any negative influence on the plant. Who is right - her or me? And why?

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Unless the soil in the ground where you planted the hydrangea is toxic in some way (in which case nothing will grow in it), no, it's not true to say it will kill the plant.

Hydrangeas do, though, prefer soil that does not dry out frequently and for this reason, a shadier spot is usually chosen, with many people digging over the planting area, incorporating composted material prior to planting. This is not essential, just desirable, but do keep the plant well supplied with water until late autumn if your weather is dry, as well as keeping it watered during dry warm spells next year while it is still settling into its new situation.

With regard to flowering, Hydrangea macrophylla varieties (hortensia type) flower on the previous year's wood, which means pruning should preferably not be done at all other than removing spent flower heads and dead tips of stems in Spring, although selective stem pruning can be done later if the plant gets too large without losing all the flowers.

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