Pruning hydrangeas - Knowledgebase Question

PEARL RIVER, NY (Zone 6A)
Question by bigcacti
February 6, 2009
Can I prune out all branches (stems?) that have dead flower clusters on them? When should I prune them>


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Answer from NGA
February 6, 2009

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With the exception of Oakleaf hydrangea, which can be pruned to the ground each autumn, hydrangeas produce flowering shoots in the spring on last season's wood. So, to prune for flowering, reduce the old wood by one-half to one-third after bloom. The shrub will develop new flowering wood the following spring. Hydrangeas can be identified by the characteristics of their leaves and flowers. Climbing hydrangea is a deciduous vine with long, green, heart-shaped leaves and short, stiff flowering branches with flat white flower clusters. Smooth hydrangea is a deciduous shrub with oval, grayish green leaves and white flowers in roundish clusters. Bigleaf hydrangea has thick, shining, coarsely toothed leaves to 8" long and white, pink, red or blue flowers in big clusters. This is the most often planted hydrangea. The Peegee hydrangea has green leaves that turn bronzy in the fall, and clusters of white flowers that slowly fade to a pinky bronze. Oakleaf hydrangea has deeply lobed, oaklike leaves that turn bronze or crimson in the fall. It has creamy white flowers in the spring. Hope the above descriptions will help you identify which hydrangea you're growing and how it should be pruned!

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