Hydrangea plant - Knowledgebase Question

Antioch, CA
Question by molivar
May 25, 2005
I have three very tall 6 FT Hydrangea plants (all side by side), Very beautiful. They recently started to bloom flowers everywhere rose color, lavender, blue , lime and light pink flowers .... recently our gardner decided to cut out with a chain saw a section of my hyrgrangea - he shaved most the new leaves, flowers & new emerging flower buds. He also chopped out various pieces of wood that had new vine-leaves appearing. It was hit or miss with the chopping of the flowers & wood as some leaves and flowers were left untouched. The Hydrangea now has varioius sizes of bare wood and uneven distribtuion of blooming leaves/flowers vs chopped leaves & flowers. He then proceeded to the next bush, but this time he decided to cut out the new flower buds just appearing (these flowers had not bloomed yet) , but this time he did not cut any of the leaves or wood. again it was hit or miss with the various cutting of the flower buds. What a disaster! I called him and he said the Hydrangeas were getting too bushy. Does this sound right? I tried to explain to him that the Hydrangea was not too bushy. I told him that any pruning should be done after all the flowers & leaves have completely bloomed/dried out etc and are ready to be pruned back to keep the growth & height consistent. He said it will grow back fast. Will this area grow back this summer and catch up with the others? or will I have to fix it in the fall? he was cutting out pieces of wood with emerging leaves and flowers? last year I did a slight purning in the fall of all the old flowers and any of the dead wood. we are debating if we should hire another gardner.

Answer from NGA
May 25, 2005


The damage is obiviously already done and you won't have the lovely flower display that you anticipated. You're right, hydrangeas should be pruned after they've finished flowering, not before. However, an established hydrangea will overcome the shock of poor pruning and yours will probably rebound later this summer. I'd wait until this winter to do any additional pruning. You may want to even things up and it's easier when all you see is bare wood as opposed to branches in full foliage. In my garden, I prune my hydrangeas back to knee-high during the winter months. In the spring the bare stems produce lots of new flowering stems. I also completely remove any obviously dead stems growing from the center of the plant. This keeps the shrubs in constant renewal and I always have lots of flowers. Maybe this is the type of pruning you can try this winter. There will be less debris to have to cart off, and you'll be able to see what you're cutting. Best wishes with your hydrangeas!

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