Hydrangea Pruning, Restoring The Shape Form and Vigor Of Woody Ornamentals

How do you restore Hydrangeas size, form and health for best flowering?

Hydrangeas beautiful by overgrown
Hydrangea Big Blue beginning to outgrow it's spot (time for a major reduction in two parts)
Hydrangea Blushing Bride surrounded by love
Hydrangea 'Blushing Bride' Fitting right into the family (but not without some help from my Felco #2)

May 15th and Hydrangeas as showing signs of budding here in New York. Is it too late to crown reduce my Hydrangeas? There are two answers. But before we begin who can guess what type of tree the main header picture is representing?

The first answer has to do with old variety Hydrangeas that flower on Last Years wood or newer varieties that flower on new growth. If it’s flowers you are concerned with know that you can restore and reduce part of the plant this year and part of the plant the following year. This can be true for both old varieties and new varieties. The major difference is that new varieties will still produce an ample number of new buds to give you flower enjoyment. So now that realistic expectations are set lets talk about how you begin your Hydrangea Restoration. For additional information on Hydrangeas check out my March 28th 2011 article link @ #mce_temp_url# .

Hydrangeas as they mature tend to have many branches die back to their root crown. If you see these old canes, for lack of a better word, you can cut them as low as possible (only be aware many of these old canes may have new growth emerging from them). As the only surgeon present at the time of pruning you will have to make some choices about the pruning to be done. No decision after cutting something off can be considered a bad decision. Once it is done it is done. No going back. No passing ‘GO’ and no collection 200 dollars.

If you choose to take on this mission you will begin gaining appreciation and perspective as to how this plant grows, how it responds to pruning and what your needs, with this plant in this location, can become. I will begin with the tree forms of the Hydrangea, Grandiflora and Tarda. One arching over while the other is upright. Each having a purpose yet only one that demonstrates grace (in this gardener’s opinion).

Pee Gee Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora towering over it's neighbors in Early June
Hydrangea Grandiflora 'Pee Gee' 9 years in it's spot in Early June

Hydrangea peniculata Grandiflora, this link can give another perspective on the plant, #mce_temp_url# . The reason for the link is to educate everyone of the diversity of this form. My job is simply to open the door to the information. Everyone who passes by my words will see my open door and decide for themselves is they are to proceed through.

Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora demonstrating flowers and seasonal changes in September in New York
Pee Gee Hydrangea Tree demonstrating it's change of color with the temperature changes of summer to fall in September

All anyone needs to know about pruning and restoring Hydrangeas has to do with finding a strong developing new stem and to prune at least half an inch above where the new stem is emerging. The reason for leaving a small stub at the end of the older stem is to give the old woody stem the opportunity to close itself off (compartmentalize), similar to a deciduous tree. If a cut is made too close to the new growth there might be an exposed wound that never closes creating an opening for water, disease or insects. All of which can compromise the entire limb in the future. All of this information leads to one thing, the understanding of how plants respond to naturally occurring damage and or our pruning interventions.

Non-secuitor: I hope to plant a wall of Canna Lillies this year that will give me the opportunity to see hummingbirds again. Nine years ago I planted a grand wall of Canna Lilly ‘The President’, which grew to over 8 feet tall, and I was visited by this great bird that I had never before seen in and around my neighborhood. A Hummingbird. All I can say, is that moment changed my perception of how to design and plant to invite nature into your yard. I wish everyone a continued happy Spring-time as we all aspire to invite nature into our lives through our gardens.

Love – Peace – Happiness

BTW, the main header page is of a 40+ year old Crab Apple Tree that only displays flowers as numerous as this every 15 years. Isn’t life grand.

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