The Q&A Archives: Hydrangea care

Question: How far back exactly do you prune a hydrangea bush? My new shrubs are only 1 to 1-1/2 ft tall now, they were planted last spring (May). Out of 4 bushes, only one had flowered. Will fertilizer be suffecient or do I need to add anything to the actual soil?
Thank you- Karen G.

Answer: The commonly grown hydrangea, also called big leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) produces flowers on new wood which grows on old wood so pruning is important if you want flowers. Since your shrubs are young, you won't need to do a lot of pruning this year. Wait until next spring. Then, just as the leaf buds begin to swell, cut everything down to about 18" from the ground. New shoots will grow from the 18" upright branches and those new shoots should flower for you. Hydrangeas like growing in acidic soil so if you feed with an acidified fertilizer, such as one formulated for camellias or rhododendrons, your hydrangeas should be happy. Enjoy your new shrubs!

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