Planting Hydrangea's - Knowledgebase Question

Newmarket, ON
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Question by wtverbak
April 8, 2006
I have two Endless Summer Hydrangeas in full sun in my backyard. Being a new gardener (just one season), I have read many articles pertaining to this bush, and I get conflicting reports onto the amount of sun needed for this bush. Some say in full sun, some say partial sun to shade. Which is best for this plant. Also, can I plant them on the North and North East side of my house where there is limited sun but may become quite windy (almost tunnel like)? And lastly, I have read many of the questions and answers of these bushes on your e-mail address, but I find myself still confused on how to prune these bushes. Would I de-flower after the flower has gone brown and dead? Do I de-head just below the flower, or do I go further down? And in the spring, do I need to prune back the bush at all, or do I leave the bare stems (after cold winters) alone? Please advise me for I am lost and am losing it quickly.

Answer from NGA
April 8, 2006
Let's see if we can clear up some of the confusion about hydrangeas. There are many different types and they respond differently to sun exposure depending upon whether you live in a long, hot summer area or a short, cool summer region. Big leaf hydrangeas grow and bloom best in full sunshine, however, their leaves tend to wilt during hot afternoons when the sun hits them fully. The plants recover overnight, but the wilting foliage can be quite alarming to new gardeners. So, big leaf hydrangeas will appreciate some protection from hot afternoon sunshine.

Endless Summer is a big leaf hydrangea and will appreciate morning sunshine and afternoon shade in your gardening region. Endless summer blooms on both old and new wood so even if the shrub dies down to ground level in cold winter weather, it will still produce flowers the following summer. If it does not die down to ground level you can prune it in early spring, just as the buds begin to swell. It isn't necessary to remove the spent blossoms, but pruning the dead flowers off will keep your plant looking attractive and will encourage additional branching which could bloom later in the season.

I wouldn't recommend planting it in a windy area. The wind will tatter the leaves and could break some of the branches when they are heavy with blooms.

As for pruning, I'd wait until the buds begin to swell on the stems and then cut the stems down to about knee level. Or, you can count the buds from the base of the stem up and prune just above the second or third bud. Pruning in this fashion will keep your hydrangea from becoming too overgrown and it will ensure you get lots of new flowering stems. If the buds do not swell, the stems are dead and can be cut off at ground level. You will see new growth from the roots as soon as the weather warms.

I hope this answers all your questions!

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