Have you ever done something every year for years—and then, while you are doing that very thing you have an epiphany: What if you’re not doing it right?
What if, for all those years of doing a particular thing, you were doing it incorrectly?
The stems are mostly bare except for the new growth starting.
Every fall or winter I cut back my hydrangeas. I cut them back because they lose all their leaves and new growth starts. So I cut them back, shaping them at the new growth buds, like my roses.
Well lo and behold; I’ve been pruning my hydrangeas at the wrong time of year.
I have been cheating them out of blooms. Yes, it seems that I have been stealing blossoms from my hydrangeas. I’m a blooming thief.
Hydrangeas fall into two groups. One group blooms on new growth and one group blooms on old growth. It all boils down to the type of hydrangea you have.
Hydrangeas that bloom on new growth can be cut back at almost any time of year. Most gardeners cut them back in May or June.
I have hydrangeas that bloom on old wood. My hydrangeas are Lacecap Hydrangeas (hydrangea macrophylla normalis).
Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood (old wood are stems that have been on the plant since the summer before the current season) should be pruned before August, because this type sets its flower buds in August, September, or October.
It turns out that hydrangeas don’t even need pruning unless they are kept in an area where growth is objectionable. Of course my hydrangea sits directly in front of my office window, so I have to hack it back every year.
Hydrangeas return to the size they were before they were pruned pretty quickly, so it is best to grow them in an area in which size isn’t an issue.
So this year I will remove all old dead blooms. I will remove all dead stems.
After a very light pruning.
Because it is Fall, I will lightly trim the top of the plant so as not to disturb many of the bloom buds for next season. And, I will report back during the next bloom season and see how my new pruning method works.