Pruning Hydrangea

Pruning hydrangea

Pruning HydrangeaWhat is the proper technique for pruning hydrangea? Hydrangea is a highly popular plant whose spectacular flowers take pride of place in many gardens around the world. Originally from regions in China, Japan, North and South America, they are available in a variety of different types and sizes. Loved by gardeners for their easy-care nature and the stunning flowers they produce, you will regularly find the common mophead hydrangea, climbing hydrangea, smooth hydrangea, mountain hydrangea and the panicle hydrangea featured in many an English garden. Before you attempt to prune though, it is important to know what variety you have. Hydrangea can be roughly divided into two different groups. One group sprouts its flowers on old wood, such as the mophead hydrangea; the other group's flowers grow on new wood, such as the smooth hydrangea. The group your plant belongs to will determine the exact pruning method, as well as what time of the year they should be pruned. But how do you tackle pruning a hydrangea?

How do I prune a hydrangea?

It is not necessary to prune a hydrangea for it to mature into an eye-catching beauty. When pruning hydrangeas that grow their flowers on old wood, maintenance is as simple as deadheading the plant at the end of March. Cut them back to just above the top pair of thick and healthy buds, and new shoots will grow on the old stems. To maintain good growth and encourage abundant flowering, it is essential to regularly regenerate growth through pruning. Let the bush grow at its own pace for the first three years, and then cut about a quarter of the oldest and thickest branches to the ground every year after that. This also applies to mountain hydrangeas, and when practised regularly will allow you to regenerate the entire shrub every four years. Climbing hydrangeas do not generally require this level of pruning though, and only need attention when the shrub grows too large or too full. Hydrangeas that grow new flower buds on annual wood are best pruned in the springtime. In March you can cut these types of hydrangea back to about thirty centimetres above the ground. Varieties of hydrangea that bloom annually on new wood are the smooth and panicle hydrangeas. If you prune back smooth hydrangeas vigorously they will produce beautiful, large flowers later in the season. If you find smaller, spherical flowers more appealing, cut it back lightly and avoid heavy pruning.

Transplanting hydrangea

Transplanting hydrangea may become necessary if it has grown too big for its current position, or would perhaps be better suited to a different spot in the garden. The best time of the year to transplant a hydrangea is in the springtime, preferably during the month of March or April. It will be easier to see what you are doing as the plant has not developed its new leaves yet, and there is also less chance of frost damage occurring this time of year. Additionally, a hydrangea is still dormant in the spring, and this will give the plant some extra time to recover before it starts to form its large, beautiful flowers again. Pruning HydrangeaHow do you transplant a hydrangea? When digging it out, please make sure you remove a generous volume of soil with the plant so that it comes out from the ground with a large clod intact. Then, prepare a hole in your new position by making it approximately twice as deep and round as the root ball. Place the hydrangea in the hole and add potting soil and fertiliser before covering it in again. Finally, give the plant a heavy watering, and transplanting your hydrangea is complete.

Propagating hydrangeas

If you want to transform your garden into a sea of beautiful flowers, then why not try propagating hydrangeas yourself? Summer is the best time to propagate, and cuttings can be taken in a few different ways. Layering is the fastest of these techniques, and all you need is a low growing branch from your plant to get started. Remove the lower leaves from the branch first, ensuring that the upper leaves are still intact. Lay the branch on the ground and cover it with earth, making sure the remaining leaves are protruding above the soil. Place a brick or stone on the soil-covered part of the branch to keep it in the ground, and it will soon start to sprout roots without you needing to do anything more. After a year you can dig up the cuttings and re-plant them in another location. This method is the easiest way for you to propagate hydrangeas and spread them through your garden.

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