Hydrangea - the ugly season

Do not despair...

We know many of you are feeling depressed about your hydrangeas - especially once we have shown you how to prune them....down to sad little stumps.

So I am writing this post to reassure you that although your hydrangeas may currently look like the most depressed plants in the garden, they will return again and deliver x10 fold if you make the harsh cut now. 

As you know, I am all about garden simplicity - making garden Rock Stars out of all of you....There are of course much more technical pruning techniques. Let's just keep it simple and get the job done. 

Oh and if you don't mind the old tatty flowers, you can do nothing and they'll still look great next season!

The advantages of a hard prune are as follows:

  • You can bring the Hydrangea back to a tight compact base so you get a nice shape next season
  • You can always plant in front of your pruned down stumps and ignore them until they pop up again
  • The pruning process enables the Hydrangea to put its efforts into new growth encouraging healthy new season shoots and blooms. 
  • You can grow new hydrangea from the cuttings (my favourite bit)

Now I'm going to show you a picture of a hard-pruned Hydrangea supplied by Sunnyside Nursery - this might be painful to look at, but should give you confidence that you can't really go wrong.....

Here are my 5 pruning steps:

  • Take a look at your hydrangea shape and imagine you'd like it to grow back as a round ball
  • Starting from the middle, use sharp secateurs to cut the woody (brown stems) down to just above the first or second green leafed bud (that is the new growth)
  • Make your cut on an angle rather than straight across
  • Continue around the base of the hydrangea until you have fairly tight round ball of sticks anywhere from 15cm to 30cm in height. 
  • Give the plant a handful of sheep pellets to feed them well 
  • If you think you'd like to grow more hydrangea, just take any long stems that have a woody (brown) colour and place them in a bucket of water reaching about 1/3rd up the stem. Leave them for now and I'll do another post soon showing you how to grow them once they have roots (this was taught to me by a neighbour who's grandmother used this technique to create her 1920's hydrangea empire. True story - involves talcum powder)

Got hydrangea questions? Want us to rate your pruning effort? Get in touch!


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