Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

March 18, 2014

Hydrangea pruning method depends on variety

CLAREMORE —

Hydrangeas in most home gardens belong to four different species and each of these has slightly different requirements when it comes to pruning.
The four main types of hydrangeas grown in NE Oklahoma are:
Hydrangea quercifolia, with the common name of  Oakleaf  hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla, which are the familiar bushy large-leafed garden type
Hydrangea paniculata, mostly called panicle hydrangea
Hydrangea arborescens, often called smooth or wild hydrangea
 
The Oakleaf hydrangea is usually the sturdiest of the hydrangeas, takes the full morning sun, has beautiful white blooms, waxy leaves, and brilliant fall color. The Oakleaf hydrangea is an Oklahoma Proven “shrub” that was picked as the first representative shrub picked for the OK Proven Program, started in 1999. See: http://oklahomaproven.okstate.edu/gallery.html.
In the spring, you can prune out any deadwood, but these also bloom on old wood, so any pruning of living tissue now would remove flowers. Oakleaf hydrangeas require very little pruning. If you wish to improve the shape of the plant, prune it in the summer after the plant finishes flowering.
The second and most diverse group of hydrangeas, Large leaf or Garden hydrangea, is the most common hydrangea planted as a shade-type ornamental, and the type your grandmother grew in her garden. There are two main types of these species: “mopheads” and lace-caps. Big-leaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood, meaning they bloom on stems produced during last season. 
Pruning in the spring would remove the flower buds, leaving us with a bloomless plant this year. Instead, prune big-leaf hydrangeas in the summer, after they finish blooming and strong new shoots are developing from the crown or base of the plant. Remove the weaker shoots, both old and new, by cutting them at the base. You’ll want to leave several stems of old productive wood, as well as strong new stems that will flower next season. As the plant ages, gardeners can remove up to one-third of the stems each season to keep the plant productive. 

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