Answer: The bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) bloom on old wood that grew the year before. For this reason, any pruning to thin the plant or shorten it should be done in summer after they bloom. Spring pruning would be limited to removing any dead branches or stems due to winter kill. Wait before pruning in the spring to be sure the stems are truly dead, as spring pruning will reduce flowering wood for the coming season. Pruning in fall and winter should be avoided. The canopy helps to protect the lower parts of the plant, so do not prune in fall or winter.
General care for hydrangeas include top dressing in spring with compost and/or a general purpose granular or slow release granular fertilizer such as 10-10-10. Follow the label directions for how much to use.
Keep the plant mulched with organic mulch two to three inches thick. Spread it in a flat layer over the root area but do not allow it to touch the stems.
Water during dry spells as needed to keep the soil evenly moist like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet and not dried out. Avoid wetting the foliage when you water.
Faded blooms may be removed or left on the plant, as you prefer. Enjoy your hydrangeas!
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