While it is true that hydrangeas don’t need a lot of care, a yearly prune of all types of varieties will help to encourage new growth.
This is especially important for ensuring a radiant, annual floral display, as hydrangeas flower much better on new stems.
According to the experts at gardening retailer Primrose, pruning hydrangeas will promote a more compact growing habit.
More often than not, hydrangeas that are left to their own devices will end up tall and leggy, rather than densely packed with foliage and flowers.
When to prune hydrangeas
Gardeners will know that it is nearly time to prune their hydrangeas when the flowers have turned brown and crispy, and its foliage starts to die back. This usually happens in late winter to early spring.
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The experts said: “When small buds start to form on the stems it is time to give your plants a prune. Leaving faded flowers on your mophead or lacecap hydrangea plants until late winter or early spring will help to protect them from frost.”
Climbing hydrangeas, on the other hand, will require just a light tidy every once in a while to remove any dead flowers.
It’s also worth pruning any overlong shoots immediately after flowering, but leave the top of the plant as far as possible, as this is where the majority of flowers will bloom.
How to cut back hydrangeas
Cutting back a hydrangea is “very simple” and “only requires one essential tool” – a set of clean, sharp secateurs.
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When cutting back hydrangeas, “always aim for clean cuts” using sharp secateurs. This will “reduce damage to the plant” and allow it to “heal and resist disease much better”.
Whilst established hydrangea plants are very tolerant of pruning, it’s worth remembering that extensive cutting back all in one go may reduce flowering the following summer.
Instead, it is recommended to give hydrangeas a hard prune every three years, rather than annually. A simple annual prune or trim is more than adequate.
How to prune hydrangeas
The gardening gurus claimed that these plants can be pruned “easily” for a “beautiful display year after year” when following these “three simple steps”.
1. Remove the dead seed heads and flowers
The first and “easiest” step is to use a pair of clean, sharp secateurs and simply cut off the dead seed heads and flowers just above the next set of new green buds.
2. Remove a third of the oldest damaged stems
Encourage new growth for the plant by removing a third of the oldest and any damaged stems. Prune to the ground to send energy back into the plant and to “encourage plenty of fresh new growth”.
3. Thin out congested branches
Hydrangeas can become densely packed in their centre, causing “damage to new stems” and “making the plant prone to mildew”.
To avoid this gardeners need to remove tangled and heavily congested stems with their secateurs.
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