Ask a Question forum→To prune or not to prune?

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Texas
Shaula
May 24, 2020 11:41 AM CST
Hi there would like to have some advice with my hydrangea, please. I bought it two months ago and it was blooming so beautifully but later it started to look like sunburn. I have it place in my back porch where is cover and shady all the time. I water it every day and it has a ton of new buds growing, but I don't know if should I prune it or not since I've read it supposed to be prune until late summer. Please any advise? Thank you.
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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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pirl
May 24, 2020 11:43 AM CST
@luis_pr
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
May 24, 2020 11:46 AM CST
Welcome!

Except for fading blooms, your Hydrangea looks great. I don't see any sun burn. Flowers get old and die but, there is a lot of new growth. When you get tired of looking at the flowers, you can trim them off. That isn't pruning.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
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Texas
Shaula
May 24, 2020 11:56 AM CST
Thank you Daisy! I was scared to cut the flowers and cause some damage to the plant, this is my first experience with hydrangeas. Would it get to bloom again this year? And why are the stems looking brown at the very bottom?
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
May 24, 2020 12:08 PM CST
I don't remember if they bloom twice but I don't think so. The brown at the bottom is bark. That's ok.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
May 24, 2020 2:16 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, Shaula. I guess we are both in Texas! Here are a few comments...

"I bought it two months ago and it was blooming" "Would it get to bloom again this year?" - If you bought it at a grocery store or at a florist, chances are excellent that it is not a remontant hydrangea and those blooms will be the only ones until next year. New flower buds will develop around July if this plant blooms once a year. If you bought it at a plant nursery, Lowes or HD then it can go either way, meaning it may produce blooms once or twice a year... If it produces blooms twice a year, it will soon develop invisible flower buds at the ends of the new stems that it grew this year. Then after a pause, the flower buds will open and resemble little broccoli heads. After the broccoli grows a little larger in size, it will start to resemble the blooms that you are now seeing.

Picture 1a: See the two browning leaves in the lower left hand corner of the picture. if you see the leaf edges browning inwards, it is having heat stress and needs more water. Heat stress can be caused by hot temperatures, by windy conditions, by transplant shock from the place where you bought it to its current location. They will typically get heat stress when temperatures are above 85F. If you know that it is going to be warm, you can water it the night before so it is prepared for the following day. A typical watering of 1 gallon is a start. Water the soil only, early in the morning, if a finger inserted into the soil to a depth of 2-4" feels dry.

Picture 1b: Take a look at the blooms now. A typical mophead produces blooms that start either white, a shade of pink, a shade of blue or shade of purple. The majority of the sepals in the blooms in picture 1 are light pink so I would assume this is the color that it sort-of kind-of had when you bought it. Hydrangea blooms stay on the plant for almost a year and then they fall (approximately). After the blooms open, the pink color stays on the blooms for 1-2 months and then the bloom begins a plethora of color changes. In this case, the sepals start to turn green. That should last for several weeks (month?). Then they should also get some darker pink-red-purple splotches here. That should also last for a while too. Then the blooms finally turn brown. Since we are not seeing the color changes in the pictures as they actually happened, I assume that browning is still some time away. . However, if there was a watering issue, the plant may decide to abort the blooms prematurely and would skip undergoing these color changes and go directly to brown. Since the lowest bloom has some sepals browned already, I suspect that the plant needed water, did not get enough and it started to abort the bloom and browned out those sepals.

Picture 1c: Now look at the dark green leaves in the bottom left corner of the picture. The color looks fine but there are some gray splotches. It may just be that you are watering the leaves with alkaline water. Or it may be that you are doing so much overhead watering that the plant is starting to develop powdery mildew. Hard to say from here. Suggestion: never water the leaves in order to minimize the chance of getting fungal infections like powdery mildew or cercospora leaf spot. Water the soil -only- early in the morning so the morning sun will soon dry them out.

Picture 2: from some angles of leaves, I detect signs of those grey splotches. The stems have some pores that the plant usually carry. They are called lenticels and appear as either brown dots, red dots, purple or black dots in the stems. As the plant begins the process of hardening off for winter, the color of the stems will change from shades of green to some sandy or brownish or greyish colors in the Fall. The bottom parts of the stems are the oldest parts of the stem. These were once green but with the years, they tend to change and remain other colors like gray or brown. Do not worry if you observe stem color changes in the Fall.

Sunburn - all the leaves look great. If they had sunburn, the leaves in direct contact with the sun would turn completely yellow -including the leaf veins- and the leaves underneath would remain dark green.

Prune or not to prune? There is no need to prune with a plant so small. But you could deadhead the spent blooms if you want. Deadheading usually entails cutting the little string called peduncle that connects the hydrangea bloom to the hydrangea stem. Warning: if this hydrangea blooms on this year's new stems too, do not cut those new stems or you will be chopping off this summer's blooms. See more info about pruning and deadheading on the link below:

https://plantaddicts.com/pruni...

Here in Texas, when temperatures are regularly above 85F, the plant will get heat stress and you should switch your waterings from Spring levels to summer levels. When temperatures are regularly above 95F, you should ratchet the amount of water some more or water more frequently. When temperatures are regularly past the 100s, you need to also do the finger test to make sure that the soil is not drying out early. The hydrangea roots are in the top 4" so even small summer winds will dehydrate them. Insert a finger early in the morning to a depth of 2-4" and water of the soil feels dry. Enough water? When planted in the ground, if you water with enough water, the soil should feel moist to a depth of 8". In a pot, you may check to a slightly higher depth like 6-7". If the weather forecast is windy, water the night before to minimize wilting episodes.

During the first summer, the plant may suffer from more wilting episodes than it will have once it becomes established. As a general rule, if the leaves look wilted, they can remain so provided that the soil is moist enough. Why? They will perk up at night and look fine in the morning. If I see them wilted in the morning then I know the soil did not have enough water so I water them then. If you observe an unusually bad wilting episode, feel to water a.s.a.p.

A good location for the pot is one where it gets sun until 11am (more or less) and no sun in the afternoon and no sun in the evening. If the location is windy, consider moving the pot away from winds or blocking the winds somehow.
Does that help you? Luis
[Last edited by luis_pr - May 24, 2020 3:29 PM (+)]
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Texas
Shaula
May 24, 2020 3:27 PM CST
Thank you so much Mr. Luis for your great advise. Yes I am close to Houston Tx. So temperatures are humid and high. Now reading your answer I can tell my plant had some heat and poor watering stress, as I never saw the change of colors you talked about, it went from pink to how it looks right now.
Yes, where I live the type of water is harsh.
I will trim off the dead flowers and I'll be monitoring the watering better as temperatures keep rising every day.
Thank You!
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
May 24, 2020 4:48 PM CST
I hope the plant blooms again for you!
[Last edited by luis_pr - May 24, 2020 8:39 PM (+)]
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Texas
Shaula
May 24, 2020 7:16 PM CST
Thank you so much Mr. Luis for your great advise. Yes I am close to Houston Tx. So temperatures are humid and high. Now reading your answer I can tell my plant had some heat and poor watering stress, as I never saw the change of colors you talked about, it went from pink to how it looks right now.
Yes, where I live the type of water is harsh.
I will trim off the dead flowers and I'll be monitoring the watering better as temperatures keep rising every day.
Thank You!
Texas
Shaula
May 25, 2020 6:20 AM CST
Thank you so much Mr. Luis for your great advise. Yes I am close to Houston Tx. So temperatures are humid and high. Now reading your answer I can tell my plant had some heat and poor watering stress, as I never saw the change of colors you talked about, it went from pink to how it looks right now.
Yes, where I live the type of water is harsh.
I will trim off the dead flowers and I'll be monitoring the watering better as temperatures keep rising every day.
Thank You!
Texas
Shaula
May 25, 2020 1:33 PM CST
Thank you Daisy! I was scared to cut the flowers and cause some damage to the plant, this is my first experience with hydrangeas. Would it get to bloom again this year? And why are the stems looking brown at the very bottom?
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
May 25, 2020 4:11 PM CST
If you bought it at a grocery store or at a florist, chances are excellent that it is not a remontant hydrangea and those blooms will be the only ones until next year. New flower buds will develop around July if this plant blooms once a year. If you bought it at a plant nursery, Lowes or HD then it can go either way, meaning it may produce blooms once or twice a year... If it produces blooms twice a year, it will soon develop invisible flower buds at the ends of the new stems that it grew this year. Then after a pause, the flower buds will open and resemble little broccoli heads. After the broccoli grows a little larger in size, it will start to resemble the blooms that you are now seeing.

Hydrangea stems have pores (the dots) and the number varies from one variety to another. The pores are called lenticels and appear as either brown dots, red dots, purple or black dots in the stems. The new growth from old stems is always green-ish but changes color throughout the year. As the plant begins the process of hardening off for winter, the color of the stems will change from shades of green to some sandy or brownish or greyish colors in the Fall. The bottom parts of the stems are the oldest parts of the stem. these brown parts were once green but, with the years, they changed and are now gray or brown.

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