The Q&A Archives: oakleaf hydrangea

Question: I pruned my oakleaf hydrangea last fall. It had started to take over my front garden covering many of my perennials. I usually leave the flowers on as they look pretty when the snow falls. This year I have bald stems or the leaves start to emmerge then wither and die. Did my late pruning cause this or was it our late snowfalls after the plant started to break dormancy. I bought it in an eight cm container approximately 7 years ago,

Answer: This hydrangea blooms on old wood so pruning in fall would limit flowering. The osciallating temperatures over the winter would definitely have stressed the plant. And, fall pruning can stimulate late season growth that does not harden before winter. So those could explain some lack of vigor. The leaves emerging and then withering could be related to late spring freeze damage to the buds or to a disease issue. I would suggest you consult with your local county extension to obtain a more specific diagnosis and based on knowing that, determine what to do. If a chemical control is needed, they will have the most up to date information on what to use and how/when is best to use it for maximum results. Good luck with your hydrangea -- the fact that it is well established and healthy until now gives it a fighting chance!

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