Best Time To Prune Off Dead Flowers?

donna1952(8 W WA Puget So)September 27, 2005

For years I have been waiting until early spring to prune off the dead flowers from my hydrangeas, and the plants seem to prosper every year. A neighbor took exception to this practise, and said she was told to do it in the fall.

Her plants did not flower well the next year, and as a matter of fact all of her plants have since died. Would anyone on the forum care to discuss this subject? Thanks.

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In zone 8, I do not believe the timing of deadheading was the main contributor to your neighbors hydrangea decline. I have heard/read here and there that some believe that leaving the dead flower heads on the plant somehow helps to protect the buds below from the cold but that is just a theory and in zone 8 should not be an issue at all. If it works for you and you are happy with the results...great, but at most, the fall deadheading "might" account for less blooms on your neighbors plants but it certainly did not contribute to their deaths. I'm not there to see for myself, but I'd guess that you are doing other things (besides deadheading) VERY differently from your neighbor that accounts for the large difference in your hydrangea's health......yg

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 10:24AM
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I agree with yellowgirl - the timing of the deadheading is not critical in our climate and shouldn't even account for reduced blooms on your neighbors.......unless she got a bit carried away with the "deadheading" and pruned somewhat more severely. There are other factors at play as to why hers have declined or died.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 9:00AM
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donna1952(8 W WA Puget So)

Thanks for the responses. I agree that the deadheading timing probably didn't cause the demise of her plants. I think that not watering them was the culprit. It just kills me to see plants die - and every time I visit the BOX garden stores (Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) and see hundreds of brown plants sitting there waiting to go to the dump, I threaten to ask for the watering job. But they never seem to mind losing them, and they don't offer them for sale either.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 10:26AM
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When I take a plant away from the Big Box stores, I don't refer to it as a sale or purchase but rather a rescue!! I have rescued quite a few from them and I share your frustration.....yg

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 11:35AM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

Its sad how Home Depot just lets all those plants die. The reason they don't offer them at reduced prices is the vendor takes everything back so there is no loss to HD. I figure the vendor just nurses them back for sale next spring, by then the roots are completely bound.

Our Lowe's does actually reduce prices, especially on perrineals. I just bought almost 20 plants (russian sage, miscanthus graziella, bearded red tongue, solidago, coreopsis to name a few) for a dollar a piece. All in excellent condition. However, I found a 2 gallon container with a leafless stick coming out of the middle which was labled "Assorted Hydrangea" that was only 1/2 price of $29.99. I offered them a dollar for it, but of course they said no.

As for the OP, I usually wait until spring to prune off the spent flowers. I like to crumble them up around the plant, as I've read they are a good source of Aluminume Sulfate.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 2:56PM
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