Hydrangeas forum: Hydrangea Pruning...?

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Name: Jason
Gold Bar, Washington (Zone 8b)
Apr 26, 2015 7:40 PM CST
I guess this could be considered a "how to prune hydrangeas" question... can a Limelight Hydrangea be snipped back to a new set of buds further down on the stem, similar to the way you would do a typical fuchsia or a coleus plant? our limelight hydrangea doesn't branch very much and its not really all that full. i'd like to cut back the tips of the new growth, which is now anywhere from 4-8 inches long, back to the first set of buds to encourage branching and to keep it bushier. does that work on hydrangeas? or is it a mistake?
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Apr 27, 2015 10:40 AM CST
riverman - I just pruned my 'Limelight' a couple of weeks ago. It's a standard form - one trunk. Since they bloom on new wood, you can prune them in winter or spring. I wouldn't prune in fall because of pruning encouraging new growth that might not harden off in time for winter. Some of the plant energy would go into growing new stuff instead of reserving for winter. Without seeing a photo, it's hard to tell how far you can safely prune.
Name: Jason
Gold Bar, Washington (Zone 8b)
Apr 27, 2015 8:27 PM CST
yeah, we cut it back to a reasonable size in late feb. its got seven main stems that come from the base. we left those stems 18 inches tall and bare in order to allow room for the hostas and heuchera to grow beneath it. you can see that each of the seven main stems has 2 or 3 new stems coming out right above where we cut it down back in feb.
Thumb of 2015-04-28/riverman123/3a2110

what I want to do is cut the new shoots back by 1/3, or perhaps 1/2, just above the next set of intersecting leaves where you can see tiny buds starting to form. normally we just let them grow, then all the new shoots that are now only 8 inches will turn out to be single 4 foot long stems with absolutely no branching at all. we want it to have a more bushy, full look. will cutting each new stem now encourage it to be bushier later on, the same way you pinch back a fuchsia to give it a fuller look? I would assume those tiny buds in the pic below will turn into new shoots themselves if I cut the stem just above them, no? or does it not work that way?
Thumb of 2015-04-28/riverman123/dc4be3

[Last edited by riverman123 - Apr 28, 2015 4:32 AM (+)]
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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Apr 28, 2015 4:44 AM CST
I'd imagine that since you already made reduction cuts this year, pruning again might mean a year without blooms. Any that might decide to form anyway could be really small and stunted. The later in the season you make cuts, the weaker the new growth will be at flowering time.
I see a couple of these plants each time I drive into the city that are really full of branches and blooms, but the plants have lost any claim to pleasing form or shape, and the blooms hang down in the dirt on weak stems.
I'd recommend waiting until next early spring to start the next layer of branches. Smiling

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