Advice please - part two!

corrypawOctober 26, 2013

I had posted on the forum a while back, asking if I could relocate a very large, older hydrangea (5' tall)- thanks to the input I received, we did manage to move it to make way for our walkway to be replaced. BUT - now we have another issue. It survived the move fairly well (so far, at least), but we now realize that the entire lower half of the shrub is bare. I think where it was located before, the bareness wasn't really visible, as other things were in front of it - but now, it's a bit unsightly as all the leaves and new growth are on the upper half, and just bare (but alive) wood on the lower. A neighbor told me I should cut the entire thing back to about 4 inches from the ground, and let it start all over again - another neighbor said, cut it half way after it blooms next spring. I'm not concerned about giving up a year or two of blooms but I'm afraid either of these methods might kill it. Can someone with real knowledge of hydrangeas please tell me the best way to make my favorite shrub attractive again? Thanks so much!

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If a mophead type - Hydrangea macrophylla - it can be cut back hard without issue. You do want to wait until spring, when you see the new growth beginning to form and prune back at that time. 4" is a little severe IMO - I might opt for around 6" or so. And remove any wod that doe NOT develop new growth - this can be taken back right to the base of the plant.

You will miss the flowering cycle for at least the first season after the heavy pruning but you should be rewarded with some vigorous new growth that will improve on that bareness and the plant should bloom on schedule in subsequent years. If this is a paniculata or other hydrangea that blooms on new growth, the heavy pruning will not affect flowering provided it is done in early spring.

If in zone 6 or below, you will want to offer winter protection to ensure blooming on any macrophylla.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 2:18PM
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Thank you, gardengal48 - that's exactly what I wanted to know... it is indeed a mophead, so I will prune it no shorter than 6" in the spring, as you suggest. I'm in Suffolk County, Long Island, which is zone 7a I believe.... given what we went through last year during superstorm sandy, I'm amazed any of our shrubs survived, so we are taking special precautions this year just in case. My hydrangea did take a beating, so we want to give it extra TLC from here on. Thanks again for the help, I really appreciate it!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 11:17AM
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