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Can I control the size of hydrangea in Missouri?

Posted by dowbright z6 in Missouri (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 5, 10 at 0:31

...Or will it become huge no matter that I need it smaller?

Totally new to this, and searched the web but didn't find a clear understanding...

So I'm bothering you guys!

Thanks for any potential info. It's full shade, near my front windows--oh, and do they have any fragrance? (ok if not! Delightful if SO!)

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Can I control the size of hydrangea in Missouri?

What kind of hydrangea are you talking about? Does it have a name?

It is always easiest if you buy one that grows about the height you want. What size are you desiring?

My Annabelles grow about 4 ft tall--which is the size I want in those spots, so I don't need to worry about pruning. On the other hand, I just planted a paniculata hydrangea (Vanilla Strawberry) that should grow about 6 ft tall--which is exactly the size I want for that spot. I also have a couple macrophyllas that are small--less than 3 ft.

In addition, some hydrangeas are hardier than others. If yours is Nikko Blue, for instance, you won't have to worry about pruning because here in Zone 6 Kansas, the winter weather "prunes" it. Thus my Nikko never gets more than about 3 ft tall, even though in warmer regions, it is usually a taller hydrangea.

With more info., we can probably give you more specific advice.


RE: Can I control the size of hydrangea in Missouri?

As stated above, the ability to easily control the size of a hydrangea by pruning depends a great deal on what type of hydrangea it is. Those that bloom on new growth - paniculatas and arborescens (Annabelle types) - can be pruned to size each spring without concern for loss of flowering. Most bigleaf hydrangeas (H. macrophylla ctvs.) bloom on old growth and should not be pruned to maintain a smaller size, as one typically removes all the flowering buds in doing so.

If you are willing to forgo flowering for a season or two, of course you can prune if needed, but it is better to select for a specific size rather than trying to keep something that wants to be big, small :-)

controling the size of mcrophylla

It is too late to tell me not to buy. I already have and do not want to dig up and throw away. I want each and every one of my 70 mychophyllas.

I have read that I wont loose the buds if I prune right after blooming. Before August one. My hydrangeas are four years old. What is the best I can hope to do?
Thanks AB

RE: Can I control the size of hydrangea in Missouri?

I'm not sure if that theory is very sound with most macs :-) In my climate they bloom until frost so there is no reasonable window of opportunity to prune "right after blooming". In many cases, it is the blooming stems themselves that constitute the wood that supports next season's blooms so pruning back anything more than just deadheading spent flowerheads puts flowering at risk.

Ideally, other than deadheading if desired and pruning out obviously dead wood in spring, my suggestion is to NOT prune macs but allow them to grow to size -- it's the 'right plant, right place' concept. If it grows too large for that location it should be sited differently.

Having said all that, if you want or need to keep an overly large mac in the same place (and with 70, I can understand the flexibility to move any of them is limited), then I'd suggest what is usually considered to be rejuvenation pruning. This involves pruning out a third of the oldest canes at the base each year. At the end of the third year, you will have a shrub that is reduced in height overall as well as one that has revitalized stem growth.

However, 4 y.o. is still pretty young to consider this method - most 4 y.o. hydrangeas have not even hit maturity or their full size potential yet and rejuvenation pruning is most often used with mature, well-established and very large shrubs. The alternative is to forego some of the flowering and simply prune out the longest, leggiest stems.

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