Ask a Question forum→Help with new hydrangeas

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Minneapolis - Zone 4
ymallh
May 13, 2020 7:21 AM CST
We had some landscaping done last year and got some hydrangeas for the front of our house. Unfortunately, being the novice gardeners that we are, we did not save the tag to know what type of hydrangeas we have. Does it grow on old or new wood? We don't know. Last fall we cut off the dead blooms but did not cut them all the way down. Now it is mid-May in Zone 4 and we are not having any new growth on the old wood but rather new growth coming out of the ground. I am wondering if it that is being we may have done something wrong by cutting off the old blooms too late, or if we actually have a new wood plant that needed to be cut all the way down. Is it too late to cut it all the way down?
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Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
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oneeyeluke
May 14, 2020 5:41 AM CST
You should save your old wood, because there nothing left when you cut it off. Nurse the plant you have and regrow as much new wood and you can. I would pull back the hardwood mulch and loosen the soil around the base of the plant, so it can get more oxygen. Give it some time, and when time comes for more flowers, you can leave the old wood on the plant and have more to work with next year. Good luck
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
May 14, 2020 6:01 AM CST
It's typical to lose some of the old wood over the winter, especially in cold areas and with the mop head types. When you do get flowers and deadhead them, clip the dead flower right below the flower head. Leave the cane. The next year, when it begins to leaf out, any canes that don't leaf out are dead and can be removed at that point. Some gardeners leave the dead canes until the Bush is fully leafed out to avoid taking good canes. Others remove about a third of the canes every year to encourage new growth. You can have blooms on the new canes. My hydrangea lost all of its old canes this year, even though the winter here was mild. It's all leafed out with new canes, and about half of them have blooms on them. Do remove some mulch from around the base. Do not cut the new growth.
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Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
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luis_pr
May 14, 2020 9:02 PM CST
Does it grow on old or on old & new wood: Well, you are about to find out this summer. It probably tried to bloom from old wood in early Spring but, the stem got zapped by cold temperatures. Mid to late summer is when remontant hydrangeas will produce blooms from new wood.

Because you are in Zone 4 and the stems got zapped, you most likely have a macrophylla or serrata type of hydrangea. They usually have their stems zapped by ole man winter if you do not winter protect. The others are more winter hardy and thus they tend to be able to leaf out from last year's stems.

To see if the stems are dead or not, you can do a scratch test (very lightly scratch to see if you see "green" or not) or you can wait until the end of May to see if it produces any leaves. By the end of May, the chances are close to nil that it will leaf out. But... you can do the scratch test now or at the end of May.

If you get nothing by the end of the month, you can prune the dried out stems all the way down.

Did you do something wrong by cutting off the old blooms too late? No, there is no such as deadheading the blooms too late. But deadheading is not the same as pruning. Last year's blooms can be deadheaded at any time or never. Just cut the little string that connects the stem to the bloom (it is called a pedicel).

The leaves look a little crinkly perhaps because of late frosts. You have chances of late frosts all May long. Your average date of last frost goes through the last week of May. Expect to need to protect the plant if there are warnings until the end of May ... and since it is an average, assume end of May + two more weeks to play it safe. the more mulch you pu, the more protection the leaves get (the roots are normally not affected by frost so all we are doing with mulch is to completely cover the plant to protect the leaves). You can use frost cloth to protect. Since it still so small, you can also cover it with a lot of mulch when you hear of late frosts. then reuse the mulch elsewhere after frosty times are over. If a frost zaps the leaves, you will get new ones but it will take 2-4 weeks, So if they are zapped, just give the plant water to keep the soil as evenly moist as you can. Then once you are beyond your average date of last frost, you can apply fertilizer. A 1/2 to 1 cup of cottonseed meal, organic compost or composted manure will do. You can also use a general purpose, slow release, chemical fertilizer with a NPK Ratio of around 10-10-10.
[Last edited by luis_pr - May 15, 2020 1:52 PM (+)]
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Minneapolis - Zone 4
ymallh
May 15, 2020 7:08 AM CST
Thank you all for your responses! This is really helpful! Obviously I have a lot to learn!
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
May 15, 2020 7:48 AM CST
You're very welcome. I was hoping that Luis would chime in. He's our " expert" on hydrangeas, helped me once or twice. There lots of great folks here to help you with any gardening problems.
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