Step away from that Hydrangea and put down your secateurs!
Yes, you might be feeling the urge to prune those feisty hydrangeas as you go about tidying up your Fall garden, but hang on a moment while we tell you why that’s not a good idea!
Unlike many other flowering shrubs, hydrangeas don’t benefit from pruning, and in fact, you may be causing your hydrangea not to bloom if you cut them back.
One of the first things you need to do is to determine what kind of hydrangea you have in your garden. If you have a ‘Big Leaf’ hydrangea (the botanical name is Hydrangea Macrophylla, commonly known as a Mophead Hydrangea, Lacecap Hydrangea, Florist’s Hydrangea or Hortensia, or, if you have an Oak Leaf Hydrangea, you will know that they bloom in late summer. What you might not know, is that they only bloom on old wood.
If you prune them after they flower, there may not be enough time for them to develop old wood and flower buds before the next flowering season. If you prune them before summer, for instance in the spring, then you’ll be pruning away the buds and you won’t get any flowers at all.
The best thing to do is to step away from the Hydrangea, take your pruning shears and get busy on another shrub that actually likes being pruned.
So what if you have some other kind of Hydrangea?
Well, if you have a ‘reblooming’ Hydrangea that can bloom both on old and new wood, the effect of pruning won’t be as bad, but it still won’t be advisable. Leave that Hydrangea alone and you’ll find it will bloom more prolifically and for longer.
In short, hydrangeas don’t really need pruning at all. Especially when you buy the varieties we have in our center. The only thing you need to do is to remove the old dead flowers when the new growth begins in Spring.
What is the best way to deal with an untidy Big Leaf or Oak Leaf Hydrangea?
If your Big Leaf or Oak Leaf Hydrangea is scraggly and wild, the best way of getting it to look nice and tidy is to cut back only one third of the stems every year once it has finished flowering. This way, you’ll still have two thirds of the shrub flowering. Obviously this strategy will take time, but it will ensure that your Hydrangea continues to bloom without interruption.
If you have a Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea Arborescens) or “Annabelle” or a Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea Paniculata) or “PeeGee”, then go ahead and grab those pruning shears. These Hydrangeas bloom on new wood, so you’re safe to prune in Spring and still enjoy flowers in Summer. However, once again, they don’t really need pruning, so you’re equally safe just leaving them be