Hydrangeas are some of the most beautiful perennials you can find in a garden. It is important to know how to prune your hydrangeas to keep them healthy and thriving. Hydrangeas have multiple strains which require different pruning techniques, so it is important to decipher which is your type in order to provide proper care. Here is a simple breakdown and quick guide for pruning your hydrangeas.
Mophead or Lacecap and Oakleaf hydrangeas
Mophead or Lacecap hydrangeas (these are the only type hydrangeas that are usually blue or pink) and Oakleaf hydrangeas (leaves shaped like large oak leaves, white blooms) can both be pruned the same way. The most important thing to remember about these hydrangeas is to prune them in the summer before August because by August the hydrangeas may have already set their bloom buds for the next year. If you prune the pre-set buds, your hydrangeas will not be able to bloom the next summer. Each year the previous year’s dead stems should be removed as part of the pruning process. Every five years or so it is important to trim about 1/3 of the healthy stems, similar to giving your hydrangea a haircut. This will make sure the plant thrives and will give it a refreshed look. If you need to trim back a hydrangea plant in order to reduce its size, it is best to do this in June or July so as not to affect the buds for the following year.
H. arborescens (Annabelle) hydrangeas
H. arborescens (Annabelle) hydrangeas are easy to prune because they will bloom almost no matter what. Annabelle hydrangeas can bloom in hedge form and can be pruned to a few inches from the ground in the fall. This is to make the hedge look less overbearing in the winter months.
H. paniculata (PeeGee) hydrangeas
H. paniculata (PeeGee) hydrangeas can grow into a tree shape if the developing trunk and main top branches are not removed. These types of hydrangeas are not necessary to prune each year, which makes for easy maintenance, however if you do want to prune you can do so in the fall winter or spring time. It’s important to note that if the PeeGee gets trimmed down out of tree form it will naturally grow back into a hedge unless you form it back into a tree. Hydrangeas are so beautiful and can dominate your garden with their colourful large buds. Knowing how to care for your hydrangeas will ensure they grow beautiful and healthy for years to come. Want to learn more about caring for hydrangeas or any other plant or flower in your garden? Ask a Ritchie Feed & Seed garden pro for expert gardening advice!