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Pruning Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Th Big Easy  Hydrangea Pinky Winky

We are often asked “When is the best time to prune a hydrangea?” Confusion surrounds this topic because there are so many different types of hydrangeas. But here’s the important difference and easy instructions. Hydrangeas bloom on either old wood (flowers formed during the previous season or last summer) or new wood (flowers formed on stems that come up during the current season). And here’s the low down on how to prune these two different types:

Method One: For plants that bloom on last year’s wood –flowers formed during the previous season.

  • This is for Mopheads and Oakleaf hydrangea. Mopheads are the popular plants with large ball-shaped pink or blue flowers. Oakleaf hydrangeas have white flowers and large rough leaves shaped like oak leaves that turn reddish in the fall..
  • Flowers on these plants are formed on stems during the preceding summer, so if you cut them back in the spring, you’d be removing the flower buds. These plants are best trimmed right after they flower, in mid-late summer.
  • This group includes the widely planted mophead ‘Endless Summer’, the newer ‘Let’s Dance’ series, most forced florist hydrangeas and oakleaf varieties like ‘Snowflake’.

Method Two: For plants that bloom on new wood- flowers formed this season on the new growth.

  • This is for Smooth hydrangeas that have round, usually white flowers and for the paniculata hydrangeas that have conical flowers.
  • Flowers on these plants are formed on new stems each spring, so they can be cut to the ground in the fall, winter or early spring
  • Smooth hydrangeas include the popular Annabelle hydrangea and the improved Annabelle ‘Incrediball’ and the new pink Annabelle ‘Invincibelle Spirit.’
  • The paniculatas with cone- shaped flowers are plants like ‘Limelight’ and  ‘Little Lime’, the bi-color ‘Pinky Winky’ and the dwarf hydrangea ‘Bobo’.

Many of the newer hydrangeas bloom on both old and new wood, so pruning isn’t such a big deal.And you really never have to prune your hydrangeas at all. But at some point they might just get too big, too floppy or begin blooming poorly. Pruning improves air circulation and sunlight penetration. Spent flowers and dead branches can be removed anytime of the year. Call us for more help or bring in a branch and flower if you need help identifying your hydrangea.

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