Monday, May 17, 2010

Hydrangea advice, please! When should I prune old wood?

My little hydrangea is in its second season now. Did very well after I planted it in spring of '06. It's leafing out now but still isn't really full and bushy-----will this come later? My question really is, how long should I wait to cut off the "old" wood that doesn't have leaves or buds or any sign of regrowth? Thanks for any help!

(I live in Maryland.)

Hydrangea advice, please! When should I prune old wood?
You can prune dead or broken branches at any time. General rule of thumb for pruning flowering shrubs in colder climates: If it blooms before June 15, prune after if blooms; If it blooms after June 15, prune in early spring.

There are different types of Hydrangeas. Here are their pruning rules:

Big Leaf Hydrangeas - In warm climates prune after flowering. In colder climates leave the flower head on through winter %26amp; prune in midspring.

Hydrangea paniculata (Unique, Tardiva, etc.) - Prune early spring before active growth.

Hydrangea arborescens (Annabelle) - Minimum pruning required. Where not stem hardy, prune dead wood in early spring.

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oak Leaf Hydrangea) - minimum pruning required; prune in spring if necessary.
Reply:Beware of cutting old wood. I cut "old" wood in the spring of 2006, after what I thought was a reasonable time with no new growth of leaves. Well, I was rewarded with a very bushy green hydrangea with no flowers! My Dallas Community Gardening friend said do not prune at all. Except dead leaves, flowers. Some hydrangeas cannot be cut back as severely as others. Mine was one of them. Last fall I resisted cutting the dry, dead looking wood and it looked like a stick bush all winter. But I already have beautiful hydrangeas coming out. Hope yours are lovely as well.
Reply:my mother-in-law is having the same problem with her plants! don't prune at all to see if they will bloom at all! u might have planted the variety that is cold hardy in ur area, but to tell u the truth, it's just the roots that are hardy, and not the stems which carry over next years flowers. our cold winters are just too much for em(the stems)! don't prune at all for this season to see if they will bloom..... if they don't it'll probably be best just to replace with the new kinds, "endless summer and forever%26amp;ever" which will bloom on old and new wood! good luck!
Reply:Once the leaves begin to appear you can cut the woody parts back. I live in California so I am not sure if this works for Maryland but I cut my hydrangeas back in the fall before winter so they are all ready for spring. I have done them both in fall and now and find that when I do them in fall they get leaves by February. Mine are already bushy and setting bud. In your area, I would check with the local nursury to see if fall pruning is an option for you. But certainly you could prune them back in early spring so you could get more growth by May. Hope that helps.

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