Hydrangeas are some of my favorite flowers. Easy to grow, beautiful and lots of craft projects can be done with them dried. You’ll find practical tips on how to prune hydrangea flower shrubs and their overall care.
General Care When Growing Hydrangea Flower Shrubs
Hydrangea shrubs or bushes are among favorite flowering plants for many people. They grow in a wide variety of sizes, colors and shapes. The flowers are gorgeous dried, or fresh in bouquets, craft projects, or simply enjoyed in the garden. They thrive in varying conditions from full sun to full shade, depending on the variety. Before planting a hydrangea, find out its sun/shade requirements.
They all need moist, well drained soil with rich compost and other organic matter added.
Feeding Hydrangea Flowers
Hydrangeas shouldn’t be fertilized at all, until new plants are firmly established. At least a minimum of 3 months after planting or transplanting. Should you decide to fertilize, do so sparingly, as too much nitrogen can cause the plant to stop flowering.
Much of the finished color of hydrangea flowers depends on two qualities. The variety of the plant itself, and the soil PH. Acidic soil PH gives blue shades, and more alkaline soils encourage pink tones.
Aluminum sulfate (1/2 oz to a gallon of water) can be added to soil to give the blue shades. Be sure to water thoroughly before giving the treatment. Plants should be at least 2 years old to do this with. Prolonged use year after year, may cause a fatal build up in the soil. Iron sulfate is a safer amendment, or try alternating between the two.
If pink is the shade you want to bring out, top dress with dolomite lime, or drench with a quick lime solution. Do this several times a year.
Problem – Why Doesn’t My Hydrangea Flower?
Hydrangeas fail to flower for a couple of reasons. Most commonly is frost damage. The other main reason is late pruning. Too much shade or nitrogen, are other factors to consider.
Partial shade means more than four (more like six) hours of sunlight. Planting in a more sheltered spot may be useful.
Reasons for Pruning Hydrangeas
Let’s look at why you need to prune hydrangea flower shrubs. Regrettably, many individuals intend to make them a smaller sized plant, which not a good reason to prune a hydrangea shrub. Unless you’re growing it in a bonsai dish, you’re bound to lose that battle.
Generally, plants ought to be pruned to improve their look, not to manage the size. The adult hydrangea is a shrub that can’t be made into smaller sized bush. If an individual cuts a big leaf hydrangea down, one year later it will regrow in size, and all the more the next season. If you would like keep them small in stature, substitute your large variety for one that is genetically designed to stay small.
Some short sized hydrangea bush varieties are:
- Pink Elf
- Blue Deckle
- Involucrata Tama Azisai
- Quercifolia PeeWee
- Serrata Shirofuji
- Blue Billow
- Mathilda Gutges
- Hortensis Compacta
- Glowing Embers
- Red Star
- Forever Pink
- Blue Danube
Proper Pruning Techniques of Hydrangeas
The dilemma is that the big-leaf hydrangeas, Hydrangea macrophylla (the type that form big round balls of flowers), form their blossom buds the previous summer season. If you decide to cut them short they won’t bloom much the following summertime. Almost all the renowned types of the blue mop-head varieties in blue, pink or white lace-cap hydrangeas produce their blossoms on old growth wood.
Not every hydrangea flowers on second year growth, and this increases the misunderstandings. The very sturdy tree type Pee Gee hydrangea, ‘Hydrangea Paniculata Grandiflora’, flowers on new growth along with the white-flowering ‘Annabelle’ variety hydrangea. There are also some varieties which blossom on both new and old growth, to further muddy the waters, so to speak.
The big leaf hydrangeas, lace-caps and mop-heads, ought to be pruned as follows:
Prune early in the year when the plant has begun to break dormancy. At this time of the season, you can discern which canes are alive as opposed to which ones are dead.
Begin by eliminating all dead canes, cutting them right down to the ground. This can be best attained by sitting next to the plant, so you’ll not leave ugly, 6 to 8 inch tall stumps.
When all dead canes are eliminated, analyze what is remaining. If still you have many live stalks, many of them being over 3 years in age, cut out a third of those, again cutting to ground level. This will encourage fresh growth. If the plant is not congested with a quantity of older stems, skip this part.
Tidy the shrub by removing any old flowers that remained, taking care to trim the smallest amount possible, basically deadheading.
Cut leftover stalks back by working from the top down, stopping and making the cut just above the top of the first or second pair of buds you come to. Using this technique, some canes will be cut little or not at all. Some will have living buds only near the base of the plant, thus in that situation, you’ll end up taking away a considerable amount of that stalk.
Step back and examine the shrub. If you find one stem that is much taller than the rest of the canes, cut it to be in proportion with the other stalks. If there are any curvy, fragile and spindly looking limbs, or those that trail on the ground, cut these back at the ground.
Remember the fact that any green buds you get rid of have the possibility to produce blossoms later in the summer. Would you like a tidier plant or more flowers? Bear in mind you can always cut those blossoms for bouquets, thus tidying the plant later in the summertime.
The white Annabelle mop-head variety is one of the hydrangeas that bloom on brand new growth. They are going to still bloom if heavily pruned. Even so, if cut down too far the brand new growth that results may be weak, and bend under the weight of the flowers, so don’t be too aggressive.
Be sure to use sharp pruning shears when pruning. Sterilize your shears between pruning different plants, so any disease is not spread.
One method to disinfect your pruning shears is to dip the blades in a disinfectant solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water, or use 70 percent wood alcohol. Dip each time, in between every cut of diseased plants, or you risk spreading the disease. Do not allow those diseased canes to remain in the area, or it can also spread to more plants.
You might also enjoy my posts Poisonous Plants and Children – Symptoms and Tips to Stay Safe, Beneficial Garden Insects That Are Perfect for Organic Pest Control and A Guide To Outdoor Pond Maintenance For a Healthy, Vibrant Habitat.
Hope you’ve found this post on how to prune hydrangea flower shrubs helpful in your gardening endeavors. With proper care of your hydrangea shrubs, you will be rewarded with healthy, thriving flowers for many years to come. They make great indoor décor for the home, and you can learn to easily make your own hydrangea wreaths.
Until next time,
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