I'm kicking myself...

fennelgrl(Z6a OH)January 4, 2006

because I followed my gardening neigbor's example and cut my hydrangea macrophylla 'nikko blue' to the ground. It was looking brown and droopy, so, in a clean-up frenzy on a warm day, I chopped it down. After I had cut a couple of stems, I noticed that they looked somewhat alive and had buds along the stems, but kept cutting anyway, thinking that I was doing the "right" thing.

The stems' live appearance prompted me to do a little research and I learned that these bloom on old wood! I think I just killed next season's blooms. Please tell me I didn't! I'm in zone 6a and I thought the winter would kill it to the ground anyway. Am I wrong?

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Doesn't sound good.

Hydrangea macrophylla -- Hortensia or Florist Hydrangea
This is a commonly grown hydrangea with large globe-shaped flowers. It is frequently forced by florists and sold as an indoor pot plant during the spring season. Once moved outdoors, flower color is dependent upon the pH of the soil in which it is grown: blue if acid; pink if alkaline. There are also several white flowered cultivars. Pruning can be accomplished at two different times. Late summer is more desirable, since most hortensia types flower only from the end buds of upright or lateral shoots produced during late summer and fall of the previous season. Prune as soon as the flowers have faded and strong shoots are developing from the lower parts of the stems and crown. Remove at the base some of the weaker shoots that are both old and new. Always try to keep several stems of old productive wood, with a sufficient number of stout new stems that will flower the following season. Early spring pruning (March), although acceptable, will result in the sacrificing of bloom for that growing season.

Pruning this species too late in the fall (after September) is harmful. New growth, both vegetative and reproductive, will not develop proper maturity.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 5:44PM
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storygardener(5/6 central oh)

You know...we have ALL made mistakes in the garden and that's the truth. Sorry to hear it.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 6:54PM
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Kymie17(z6a/5b NE OH)

Storygardener's right about the mistakes. And I'm sorry to hear that, too.

I think that the warning about new growth not becoming mature if you prune too late in September refers just to the fall regrowth, not new growth this spring. (Does that sound right, Allison and Bev?) If so... you haven't done anything irreversible, you'll just need to exercise a little patience while it grows big again.

Those hydrangeas are one thing that I really wish would come with more complete information on the tags... although getting a plant company to admit that the shrub is going to look like "a bunch of upright dead sticks" from late fall through most of the following spring is probably never going to happen.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 10:13PM
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highlandsgardener(Z6 Louisville)

OK, I've had enough. There are posters here who can do no wrong...as long as you're popular! No one in his right mind will prune a hydrangea down to the ground. If you're a "popular" poster, everything is OK. If you're a "newbie" you can rot in hell waiting for a response. I assume this is just like high school. There are the cool people and then there are the rest of us. Fine.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2006 at 7:55PM
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gdionelli(z6 WV)

Highlandsgardener, have you never made a mistake in your garden thanks to advice from someone else? We were all newbies to various plants at one time. If you've "had enough" then go to some other forum. I personally don't know Fennelgrl from Adam, but I sympathize -- I've done some horrible things in my garden from ignorance, and that's (unfortunately) how I've learned. There's a big difference between not having information and not being in one's "right mind."

Fennelgrl, my next-door neighbor also just trimmed hers to the ground, also on someone else's advice. I didn't know anything about hydrangeas, and so told her it was probably OK. I think Kymiel7's comment about new spring growth is probably accurate -- think of it as a bad haircut that will eventually grow back.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2006 at 10:02PM
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OK, I've had enough....

You're joking, right? It's too bad we don't have those little smiley emoticons so the sarcasm was obvious.

Fennelgrl -- I wouldn't worry too much about it. It will probably bounce back just as healthy in a year or two. That's one of the great things about gardening. Even tho' we are obsessed everyday, working with plants teaches you the long-term perspective. And before you know it, that English walnut is producing nuts!

Of course this bolsters my lazy-girl-argument that cleaning up the garden isn't always a good idea....

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 12:13PM
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need to take that italics off now...

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 12:33PM
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mrsgeekboy(z6 SWOH)

What the hell? Did I miss something?

Maybe I just don't lurk enough, but I don't recall ever seeing high school-type popularity contests here.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 1:45PM
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princess_mimi(z5 6 OH)

Gawrsh Highlandsgardener! I'm sorry that you don't feel "popular". I did a search and saw that the three posts you put up all had replies. I read the one about your pots. I don't know if not getting any takers is the reason you're upset but if it is try thinking of it this way...if you don't have a use for them why would everyone else? If it's not the reason... well, I'm sorry again.

I've done stupid things on someone's advice. I've probably given stupid advice too. (So far everyone has been nice enough to not tell me about it!) Beverly has reassured me that "you've got to kill a few to grow a few". It dosn't sound like you killed your hydrangea. It jus tmight take a while longer to bloom for you.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 10:21PM
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roots will be fine. I make it a practice never to cut hydrangeas back until they have all sprouted leaves below the dead part...I've cut too many green sticks in April....I've also discovered that the tips can be rather slow....

Don't forget, the gardener's motto is "there's always next year." And yeah...I've done some really dumb things. :) But, it is only really dumb if you do them a second time. :) :)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 4:48PM
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fennelgrl(Z6a OH)

I didn't figure that I'd killed the hydrangea, only destroyed this season's crop of blooms.

However, the loss of blooms alone is quite painful. I'll probably only be in the house one more season after this next (moving fall 2007), so I've cut my future bloom viewing by 50%!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 3:05PM
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granny57(6 Ohio)

Geeze!!!Highlandsgardener,What seems to be the problem???
I have been off line for a few months because of problems with my computer and was heartbroken because I couldn't get back on line to talk with everyone and read all the posts. And visit all the forums.Because even though I've had my computer since 12/04.I"m still a newbie.I haven't had much internet experience or computer experience.Even though I lack in those areas,I do have some people skills.
I do know If I posted a post that said I've had enough,I surely wouldn't expect any good from it.And I'd get nothing less.I see you've only been a member since 11/05 and already your angry.What's up with that?I can't tell you how many times I've posted and got no replies,Or said or did something dumb. "And let me tell you >Some were doozies!!!But I've never took it personally, And when I've said or done dumb or off the wall things,No one EVER said anything so rude to me.I have met some very Wonderful,Fun, Loving people on this internet,Forum,Thread,However you want to describe it.Maybe if you took the time to see what intrest these special breed of people,You'd find you have something in common with someone.Not everyone shares the same interest.
And I must say,No one wants to read a post that's
basically saying,We're all snooty or stuck up,Or were running a popularity contest.And no one wants to go out of their way to make you feel like your back in gradeschool, I for one, Feel honored to be part of all this.
My advice:Relax!!Take The Time ,And Smell The Roses!!!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 2:29PM
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granny57(6 Ohio)

Just wanted to say Hi!!! To all the special people I've met since I've been a member,And I know you all love me,I tease you too much for you not to!LOL!!And I can take as good as I give!!

Great to be back!!!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 3:07PM
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plantsnobin(z6 IN)

I live about an hour north of Louisville. I grow nikko blue, and it grows well, but I have never had a bloom on it in the several years I have had it. I don't prune it at all, but the buds just don't seem to be cold hardy enough on this variety. I have also planted endless summer and am not impressed with it either. Seems that the one plant I most want to bloom it the one that refuses.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 6:03PM
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Wow plantsnobin....Endless Summer is reliable in zone 6 central CT....is yours exposed to a lot of cold dry winds? I'm hoping I don't have that problem here as I bought it last summer......sigh....I really shouldn't plant anything until I know how the year runs I guess....but this year is hardly the one to guage it by I understand!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 9:44AM
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