The Q&A Archives: Hydrangea Pruning

Question: I have a Hydrangea that was here when I moved in. It does not bloom. This is the 1st year I've tried to "deal" with it. I read that I should cut back old canes to the base of plant. In reading your FAQ's you seem to say nothing of the sort. To be perfectly honest I'm not even sure how to tell what canes are old and what aren't. I did read at 1 site that if you cut off terminal buds the plant will not flower. Did I damage it for good? What about identification? This one has green sort of large tear drop shaped leaves but two that someone just gave me have dark, almost purple leaves. Should I care for them differently?

Answer: Hydrangea is easy to grow in rich, porous soil. They're fast growing and very forgiving if you make a mistake in pruning. The plants will grow in full sun to part shade. They'll bloom best if protected from hot afternoon sun. You can prune to control the size of the shrub by cutting it all the way down to the ground. Or, just cut out the stems that have flowered, leaving those that have not, and you'll have a number of nicely spaced flower clusters, and new stems the following year. The hydrangea with oval, gray-green leaves is H. arborescens (Smooth Hydrangea) and those with purplish leaves are H. quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea).

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