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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Shrubs in Ireland ... Hedging in Ireland

How to prune Hydrangea macrophylla


 
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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 2142
Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 5:30 pm    Post subject: How to prune Hydrangea macrophylla Reply with quote

How to prune Hydrangea macrophylla.

Aside from the scatterings of snow we have received recently, a few shafts of sunshine have begun to cast their warming influence across our gardens. This increasing level of warming sunshine has begun to awaken plants and gardeners curiosity in those plants. One of the shrubs starting to rise from it sleep is Hydrangea macrophylla (often misspelled as Hydranga) commonly known as the Big leaf Hydrangea, mop-head or French Hydrangea.



Hydrangea macrophylla "Madame E. Mouilliere"
Hydrangea macrophylla "Madame E. Mouilliere" is a good example of this mop-head Hydrangea. This mounded deciduous shrub which originated in Asia and the Americas, grows to a height of 1.5 metres (4½ ft); with a similar spread. "Madame E. Mouilliere" produces dome-like mop-head blooms in shades of blue on acid soil, with pinkish red blooms displayed on limey soils, both throughout summer.

Hydrangeas delicate colouration is one of the main reasons why they are ideal for home décor through cut flowers. Even for the amateur they work well as cut flower plants, because unlike most annual cut flowers, there are prone to few pest problems and show a tolerance of harsh aspects and soils. Aside from the blooms, bold oval leaves with jagged edges cover the branches carrying the mop-heads; these lush leaves will often exhibit warm autumn colouration before shedding in winter.

Put your secateurs/pruners away.
As Hydrangeas usually flower during the summer, this would lead one to think that the best time to prune them would be after flowering in autumn, not so. Rather than pruning directly after flowering to give the plant maximum regrow time, we should instead hold off pruning until after winter. Leaving the old growth on the Hydrangea over winter will with a bit of luck act as a snow and frost buffer for this tender-in the-bud plant.

There is no need to prune newly planted Hydrangeas during the first two years in your garden, with the pruning regime only coming into force from the third spring onwards. Once the Hydrangea has finished flowering in late summer leave the plant with its old flower heads or mop-tops intact. The old flower heads will prevent any burning or blackening snow and frost from alighting on the plants newly forming flower buds.

Around the second week in March, you may remove the old flower heads, snapping them by hand or snipping them off with a sharp secateurs. The correct point to remove these spent flowers to is just above a newly formed pair of buds.

When exactly to prune.
Around the second week in March, you may remove the old flower heads, snapping them by hand or snipping them off with a sharp secateurs. The correct point to remove these spent flowers to is just above a newly formed pair of buds.

Next, remove one third of the plants older stems completely, carry this out using a combination of your secateurs and a loppers or long handled pruners. Following this method will force the Hydrangea to produce fresh new growth for flowering next season and increase the quantity of flowers produced. This form of annual pruning also prevents your Hydrangea reverting to a mass of un-flowering woody twigs, which so many plants end up as after years of incorrect pruning.

Finally, be kind to your Hydrangea after pruning, and it will reward you with lots of mop-head this summer, give it a mulch of well-rotted compost around its base to feed it and help retain moisture.


Hydrangea macrophylla Image courtesy
Jim Midcap, University of Georgia, United States
www.forestryimages.org

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