There is so much to love about hydrangeas. Showy blooms, cottage appeal, what’s not to love? But add in those brand-new varieties with blooms that keep on hitting all summer long, like the grand finale at a fireworks show, and you’ve got some happy gardeners. While their bloom cycle is certainly appealing, the fact that they make it a little easier on their caretakers by blooming on both new and old growth makes them no-brainers. That means you can be a little more prune-happy and things could still fare okay.
That being said, knowledge and restraint will get you far with this Southern-favorite flower. Give your reblooming hydrangeas their best shot at the ultimate summer floral show by pruning with care—not to mention at the right time. There are limits, after all, to even the most forgiving of varieties.
Do: Prune in the Late Winter and Shape at the End of Summer
Reblooming hydrangea varieties like ‘Limelight,’ ‘Endless Summer,’ and ‘Twist-n-Shout’ don’t discriminate when it comes to where their blooms originate. Old wood, new wood, it’s all the same if you’ve got that reblooming magic. For that reason, they aren’t as finicky with their pruning as the popular ‘Nikko Blue’ and other once-a-season bloomers that can miss out on their highly anticipated floral show if you prune too late. Reblooming hydrangeas should be pruned at the tail-end of winter or early spring in order to encourage lots of new growth.
It will be time to give your hydrangea a little more attention once the summer starts to wane. “At the end of the blooming season, be sure to remove dead buds and stems, as well as shape the entire hydrangea while pruning,” says Dan Stuppiello, division merchandise manager of Live Goods at The Home Depot. Your get-ahead plan will make all the difference when next summer rolls along.
Do: Prune Flowers at the Right Spot
Take stock of your stems before you get out the shears. According to Stuppiello, old blooms that have faded should be cut back just above new buds, so that you don’t lose any future blooms in the process. You’ll be rewarded with healthier flowers that are ready for their own moment in the sun. In order to keep the blooms coming, Stuppiello also recommends fertilizing. “An all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer is good to use in the spring,” he says. And in response to the ever-popular color question, he shares: “Small amounts of sulfur will turn the bloom a deeper blue or pink color, however sulfur will not change the color of a true white hydrangea.”
Do: Cut Weak Stems
It’s not all about the blooms. Weak stems, dead branches, and browned-to-a-crisp leaves have all got to go as soon as they’re spotted. As for blooms that have their best days behind them, you should go ahead and take care of those too. “For these types of hydrangeas, it’s encouraged to prune almost immediately after their flowers have faded,” says Stuppiello. He recommends trimming just above the new buds to ensure you keep getting that season-long bloom time you’re after.
Don’t: Guess Which Variety You Have
Rule number one in caring for your hydrangeas: Know what you’re working with. “It’s important to cater to the needs of your hydrangeas and follow the plant tag instructions to ensure optimal growth for the following season,” says Stuppiello. You should be aware of what type and variety of hydrangea you have in order to best suit its needs—starting with where it’s planted. Know your zones, stay in your lane, and whatever you do, just make sure you’ve done your hydrangea homework.
Article by Patricia Shannon for Southern Living©
Source: The Dos (and a Big Don’t) of Pruning Repeat-Blooming Hydrangeas (msn.com)