Hydrangea Pruning

vtmcNovember 22, 2013

I just purchased my first single family home and have never owned hydrangeas before. We have a fence in the backyard and my wife wanted to line the fence with a variety of different hydrangea. I have been told that pruning is not necessary by some and others have told me to prune. The following might be too much information and I don't know if it helps or not. On both sides of the back gate we have the following in order mirroring each other - Japanese Vine Rose, Vanilla Strawberry, Nikko Blue, Preziosa Red, Bombshell, Royal Purple, and Endless Summer. In another area are pee gee, lime light, little lamb, little lime, wedding ring, bombshell, and Tokyo Delight. I obviously went a little overboard because of a huge sale at the nursery and am now a little worried because I had no idea they might need to be pruned and if so how to do it. They were just planted last week and I live in Northern VA about 15 miles from Washington DC, zone 7.

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Newly planted young hydrangeas are best left alone. If your hydrangeas were planted in a location where they can grow to their estimated size at maturity without bumping and encroaching other plants, do not prune them on a regular basis. It is an annual chore that is usually not needed. Below is a link to a website that covers pruning in lots of detail.

If the plants are cramped for space or cause safety concerns then yes, either prune them as needed or transplant them to a location where this chore is not often required.

That suggestion is in addition to a regular chore of cutting off stems that cross, look "ugly" or dead wood (I am referring to stems that, for one reason or another, do not survive during winter and become obviously dead by May when they still have not leafed out).

If the shrub develops flower buds in the Fall only (oakleafs and some macrophyllas like Nikko Blue and Tokyo's Delight as an example), you can prune after it has bloomed in Spring but before the start of July. If it is a macrophylla rebloomer like ES, you can prune at any time and not loose a whole year's worth of bloomage because eventually, it will bloom again. In the case of these rebloomers, cutting off the spent blooms forces development of new blooms so feel free to deadhead the blooms when you do not like the color/form anymore. See pruning suggestions for ES in the second link below.



Paniculatas (like Vanilla Strawberry) and Arborescens (like the Annabelle types) produce flower buds in Spring so you can prune them after they bloom thru the time when they are about to produce new flower buds again on the following year.

Enjoy. You have a very nice collection. Maintain 3-4" of mulch up to the drip line and fertilize them once in Spring. Try to keep the soil as evenly moist as you can, meaning no prtiods of dry soil then moist then back to dry and so on. A 1/2 cup to 1cup of compost, composted manure or cottonseed meal should be enough for newly plan ted hydrangeas. You can also use a slow-release general purpose chemical fertilizer with a NPK Ratio of 10-10-10 (some forms of Osmocote for example). You can sprinkle some coffee grounds, liquid seaweed or liquid fish thru the growing season but stop around July to make sure that they go dormant in time for winter's arrival.


PS - I would love to go overboard as you did too! The only thing that keeps me under control is the lack of shaded areas and the possible addition of a 1-yr old puppy to the family.

This post was edited by luis_pr on Sat, Nov 23, 13 at 13:13

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 9:09AM
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kidhorn(7a MD)

I live near you in Montgomery county MD. You should never have to prune them. The best thing to do is to bury them in leaves over the winter since they'll bloom on buds that form in the fall and need protection. What I do is pile leaves on top of them in the fall and as long as the winter isn't too cold, they produce blooms the next year.

You don't need to do this with pee gee and limelight as they bloom on new growth. Generally speaking, if the hydrangea produces white blooms, you don't need to bury them. Otherwise you do.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 10:39AM
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All I CAN say is that you have a wonderful collection. I love
all of those...as they are in my garden also.
Over board is good when it come down purchasing
hydrangeas. Good luck with them.
I consider Luis a real expert with these plants....always
good, detailed advice.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 10:01AM
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