The Q&A Archives: Hydrangea Pruning

Question: I have a hydrangea- Blue Lacecap -rounded 3ft. zone 5. How do I prune it?

Answer: The most common 'Lace Cap' Hydrangea is of the genus macrophylla. This shrub can grow three to six feet in height. It is a rounded shrub with many unbranched stems coming from the ground. H. macrophylla is cold hardy to Zone 6, but generally needs protection in our area if you want it to bloom and grow to its full potential. This Hydrangea blooms in late June, July or August, depending upon the cultivar. The relatively flat-topped flowers range in color from white, to pink, to blue.

H. macrophylla blooms on buds formed from the previous year's growth. In order for it to bloom the buds have to make it through the winter. Without protection in Zone 5, the buds will often die in the winter even if the branches survive. In many winters the entire shrub can die to the ground. Although it will come back with lush new growth, there will be no blossoms the following summer. To assure that your H. macrophylla blooms, wrap it in a chicken wire cage filled with leaves for the winter.

Hydrangeas do not require pruning except to remove dead wood. If you want to prune to encourage a particular shape, time the pruning based upon whether the Hydrangea blooms on the current or previous year's growth. If it blooms on the previous year's growth (and yours does), prune right after it blooms. If it blooms on the current year's growth, prune in late winter or early spring, while it is dormant.

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