‘Correct’ time to prune hydrangeas or risk no bloom next year10/21/2023
BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine on best time to prune hydrangeas
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the most commonly grown hydrangeas in gardens are lacecaps and mopheads.
Mopheads are identified by their full, roundish heads of large petals and lacecaps have tiny flowers in the bloom’s centre and an outer border of large petals.
The experts said: “Most pruning is in late winter or early spring. However, climbing hydrangeas are pruned after flowering in summer.”
Gardening expert Jessica Walliser, a horticulturist and the award-winning author of seven gardening books, also shared with Savvy Gardening that pruning of these varieties should “never” be done in autumn.
The expert said: “Whether you are growing gorgeous panicle hydrangeas like these or classic mophead hydrangeas, pruning should never be done in autumn.”
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The gardening pro warned Britons that pruning in autumn could “remove flower buds next year”, depending on the variety.
Although the blooms on mopped hydrangeas can, in mild areas, be removed as soon as they have faded, it is best to leave them on the plant over the winter months.
According to the RHS, this offers some frost protection for the “tender growth” buds below.
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They added: “Remove the dead flowerheads in early spring, cutting back the stem to the first strong, healthy pair of buds down from the faded bloom.
“Lacecaps are hardier, and the faded flowerheads can be cut back after flowering to the second pair of leaves below the head to prevent seeds developing, which saps energy from the plant.”
If gardeners have an established hydrangea, it is recommended to cut one or two of the oldest stems at the base to encourage the production of new, replacement growth that will produce more flowers.
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Overgrown plants can be entirely renovated by cutting off all the stems at the base.
The experts noted: “However, this will remove all the flowers for that summer. The stems won’t bloom until the following year.”
If there is any frost damage in spring, prune back affected shoots to just above the first undamaged pair of buds on healthy wood.
It is also important to remove weak, straggly stems, according to the gardening pros.
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