Ask a Question forum: Cutting back flowering bush

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Vancouver, BC Lower Mainland
ChrisBush
Mar 12, 2018 6:15 PM CST
My landscapers cut back my 2 huge flowering bushes and I think they need more cutting back. Also, since they cut them back the bark is peeling off leaving a very greenish and new bark. Is this normal and should I leave them as is or cut more?
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DaisyI
Mar 12, 2018 6:30 PM CST
Welcome!

What kind of plants are they?
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Vancouver, BC Lower Mainland
ChrisBush
Mar 12, 2018 6:51 PM CST
they are a type of hydrangea. I'm getting conflicting information. Some are saying to let them go until the end of the summer and others are saying cut back to the ground early spring. I hope they start some bloom if I have to keep them until end of summer, they're an eye sore

What kind of plants are they?[/quote]

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obliqua
Mar 12, 2018 7:26 PM CST
Hydrangea Quercifolia, Oak leaf hydrangea,

There is no reason to remove more of the plant unless you want them to stay short? This plant will reach 6 to 8 feet tall , in one season. It should have been pruned after it bloomed, this plant blooms on previous year's growth. If this plant was pruned recently, it may or may not bloom this year. You would never cut this plant to the ground? The plant will leaf out as soon as the weather warms, You will have a full bush of leaves, if the plant does not put on buds. If the plant does not produce leaves, it is dead, so there is no reason to think that you will have a bare shrub. Oak leaf Hydrangea has naturally shaggy bark.

This plant is easy to grow, and should not be pruned a lot. You can prune for shape, but if you want a smaller shrub, this is not the plant. There are other dwarf cultivars of oakleaf hydrangea, that stay small, like Pee Wee, Sykes Dwarf, Little Honey (chartreuse foliage)and Munchkin, most of these grow to 3-4 feet.

Hurst, TX (Zone 8a)
luis_pr
Mar 15, 2018 5:23 AM CST
Hello, ChirsBush. Oakleaf hydrangeas should be peeling their bark in your area about now or so. Mine have just about completed that and are putting out new foliage growth on top of last year's leaves. You can just let the bark peel and fall to the ground on its own whenever it wants to.

In the Spring, hydrangeas also begin to make internal changes to the stems and branches to basically 'turn off' the winter protection that protected the flower buds and the various stems/branches thru winter. At this time, you may notice that the surface color changes from sandy or grayish to greenish. In the Fall, as they harden for winter, the stems turn sandy/grayish. This is all normal.

However, oakleaf hydrangeas should not be pruned when they did or normally. Tell the landscapers to keep these hydrangeas off limits (unless you first 'ok') and to, normally, never to do this at this time because the result is that now, you will not get flowers this year. Oakleaf hydrangeas typically develop invisible flower buds at the ends of the branches in the Summer/Fall and then these invisible flower buds open in Spring. Because of the pruning, there are no flower buds in the shrubs now so this year, you will just get new stems, new branches and new foliage. The invisible flower buds develop somewhere from July thru September, depending where one is located. For me that happens in mid July-ish and later for you up north. If you want, make an electronic reminder for 2019 and set it to display before you normally engage the landscape people or before you yourself start pruning, whichever happens first. Or make a note in a wall calendar and pass it on into 2019's calendar in December 2018 (when you buy the 2019 calendars).

Hydrangeas normally do not need to be pruned on a regular basis if they have been planted in an area where they can attain their estimated size at maturity per the plant label. If the shrub was already in the house when you bought it, you can research the type of oakleaf hydrangea and then look what estimated heights and widths are given online by mail order companies or by universities. Some get large 10' say and others are more compact (Ruby Slippers, Muchkin, Pee Wee, Sikes Dwarf, Jetstream, Vaughn's Lillie). The only prunings that I would do to oakleafs is (a) in mid-to-late May, I would prune to the ground any stems that have not leafed out (hardly happens for me) or (b) prune any growth that might be a safety issue (growing into walking surfaces, etc). Oakleafs can be safely pruned any time after they have bloomed but before this July-September period when they develop the invisible flower buds.

The good news is that this pruning will not affect the gorgeous Fall foliage that they produce so enjoy that! Hope that helps.

Luis
[Last edited by luis_pr - Mar 15, 2018 5:54 AM (+)]
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purpleinopp
Mar 15, 2018 4:32 PM CST
Whoever accepted money to do this should be ashamed.
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Calif_Sue
Mar 15, 2018 6:42 PM CST

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purpleinopp said:Whoever accepted money to do this should be ashamed.


I agree Sad

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Vancouver, BC Lower Mainland
ChrisBush
Mar 15, 2018 10:03 PM CST
Thank You! I really appreciate all your reply's and advice. I wish I had known what the landscapers has planned but I live in a townhouse complex and have no control over the common areas. In any case, today I can home to find them both cut back even more with one being cut back completely. It seems the main thing is I will not get flowers this summer but the bush will regrow and be even nicer next year. Is this accurate?


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Name: Suzanne/Sue
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Calif_Sue
Mar 16, 2018 12:17 AM CST

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Hurst, TX (Zone 8a)
luis_pr
Mar 16, 2018 12:48 AM CST
Correct. The roots were not harmed so they will generate new growth. Not pronto! of course but, in a while. Similar things happen with mophead hydrangeas, when winter cold kills all growth above the soil and then new growth develops in Spring and the plant is restored, albeit smaller than before. As time passes, the shrub should be the old size again. It is best now to provide soil that is evenly moist and well mulched. Adding alfalfa tea or plain alfalfa to stimulate growth would be the most I would add (no fertilizer needed yet).

I would suggest contacting the person(s) in charge of the townhouse complex to explore/see what can be done to prevent this issue in the future. Landscape companies probably get their orders saying to leave alone certain areas alone or certain plant alone so, see what can townhouse complex people do to keep you, their customer, happy.
[Last edited by luis_pr - Mar 16, 2018 7:24 AM (+)]
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tx_flower_child
Mar 17, 2018 8:15 PM CST
I can't even imagine why a landscape company would chop down your oakleaf hydrangea let alone come back and give it another chop.

You definitely need to talk to the townhouse mgmt.

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