Hydrangea Care - Knowledgebase Question

Elburn, Il
Question by gagne5
March 27, 2010
I have asked this before I think - how & when EXACTLY do I prune my Hydrangea's? 2 out of 4 did not bloom last year and if they do not bloom again this year, I will be beside myself! They face East w/morning light and are in good soil - what do I need to do? They are starting to come up now and I have left last year's wood on there!

Answer from NGA
March 27, 2010


Sounds like you're off to a good start if you see buds swelling on the old wood. Hydrangea's bloom on the new growth of the season. With some hydrangeas, the new growth needs to develop from the old wood in order to bloom. With others, no old wood is necessary. Instead, they bloom on the new growth - regardless of pruning or if the shrub dies down to ground level each winter. Here's the catch - if you are not seeing buds swell on the old wood but you are seeing new shoots emerge from the crown of the plant, you can only hope you have the kind of hydrangea that blooms on new growth, not the kind of hydrangea that needs to develop flowering stems on old wood.

The only other thing that might affect flowering is lack of sufficient sunlight. 4 hours of morning sun is usually sufficient. Let's assume yours need the old growth in order to flower and that you are seeing bud swelling on the old stems. You can prune your hydrangeas all the way down to about 24" from the ground. You can also prune out some of the center stems or canes if they are old and non-productive. I prune mine down to about knee high. The buds that are remaining on the stems will develop into new stems and then branch out. Each of the new stems and branching stems should develop flowers at the tips. Best wishes with your hydrangeas.

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