hydrangea care studley's

Hydrangea Care

Hydrangea is an old-fashioned NH garden favorite and its appeal seems to pass from generation to generation. If your mother or your grandmother grew them, chances are they probably filled the vases in your childhood home.

There is something dreamy and romantically sentimental about those showy and abundant clusters of colorful flowers in shades of blue, pink, purple and white that we just can’t resist! It is for this reason gardeners get frustrated when their hydrangea won’t perform as expected.

If your Hydrangeas fail to grow or bloom, it might be due to plant selection or pruning needs. At Studley’s, we first advocate choosing a Hydrangea variety that thrives in our local zones. We typically carry three types in our garden center, each of them known to be reliably hardy in New England zones: macrophylla, paniculata and arborescens.

These Hydrangeas either bloom on growth from the previous season or they bloom on growth from the current season. What does this mean for you? They are ideal selections because they don’t typically require annual pruning to look their best.

Macrophylla, also known as, “Big Leaf Hydrangea,” come in several varieties:

-Bloom Struck
-Blushing Bride Hydrangea
-Endless Summer Hydrangea
Twist-n-Shout Hydrangea

Big Leaf Hydrangea boasts large, beautiful flowers in pink, purple or blue, and will typically bloom from last year’s growth. The best advice is to NOT prune Big Leaf Hydrangea varieties, unless the shrub has grown too big. If you prune them in the fall or early spring, you risk pruning off the flower buds.

Endless Summer blooms on both last season’s growth AND the current season’s growth. This is an advantage for New England gardeners. Even if these varieties of hydrangea experience any winter die back, you will still enjoy flowers in the summer. Just be patient – and know this is a variety that will take longer to bloom on the new growth.

Pruning Big Leaf Hydrangea To Control Growth

If you feel your shrub has grown too large, the best strategy to control growth is to prune 1/3 of the shrub every year after flowering. This ensures you still have 2/3 of the plant to flower each summer. To do this, wait until the spring when the trees begin leafing out and check your Big Leaf Hydrangea for the leaves to begin emerging. You can then prune back any dead stems to where you see new leaves.

Paniculata and Arborescens Hydrangea Varieties

The other two popular types of Hydrangea recommended for NH are Smooth Hydrangea Hydrangea arborescens, sometimes called ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea, and panicle Hydrangea Hydrangea , also known as ‘PeeGee’ Hydrangea. Arborescens and panicle Hydrangea flower on new wood, so while they do not strictly require regular pruning, they can be pruned in late fall or early spring and still produce abundant flowers in the summer.

With these types of Hydrangea, it’s a good idea to go out in early spring and remove any skeletons from last year’s blooms that are still on the plant, as these may not fall off naturally and can spoil the look of this year’s flowers. If you prune them in the spring, a good rule of thumb is to remove one-third of their height to encourage new growth and branching if desired.

Plant Hydrangea Now For Blooms Next Summer

With proper selection and care, you can achieve the gorgeous growth and spectacular show Hydrangeas are known for. Whichever type of you may have in your garden, or plan to add to your garden, you can be sure of lots of gorgeous blooms if you follow these simple pruning tips. Enjoy the reward of these stunning blooms in the garden or bring them indoors as cut flowers!

Fall is the best time of year to plant new shrubs in your garden. Plan for beautiful blooms next summer by planting a new Hydrangea today!

See you at Studley’s!

written by Jeffrey Meulenbroek

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