Ode to Heavenly Hydrangeas

Heavenly hydrangeas I do love you. 

Your blooms showcase my favorite color–blue.  

You come in other colors too:  white, pink and purple.   

The purple blooms are really cool.  

For on your bush you take the blue and the pink and where they mix it is purple that will rule. 

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How to prune hydrangeas:I bet you didn’t know that you get to choose whether your hydrangea is pink or blue.  Even better, you can change your mind.  For example, if you have a pink hydrangea and want it to be blue, you can make it blue.  Here is the secret recipe. 

Well, it isn’t really a secret but it sounds more mysterious that way.  To turn your hydrangea blue, you have to give it aluminum sulfate (soil acidifier)  Spread the aluminum sulfate around the base of the plant and work it into the top inch of the soil.  Sit back and watch this amazing transformation over the next several month as it slowly turns purplish and then blue.  Now the doctor in me says turning purplish and then blue can’t be a good thing.  However, in this case it is a very good thing.  If you want to go back from blue to pink add  lime which makes the soil alkaline.


This Spring: blooms will form on the old wood

I digress; getting back to the purpose of this post, which is how to prune hydrangeas. Knowing how to prune hydrangeas is key to growing beautiful hydrangeas.  The first step in pruning is knowing whether your hydrangea blooms on old growth or new growth.  Hydrangeas that bloom on old growth should only be pruned after they bloom. Hydrangeas that bloom on new growth should be pruned before they wake up in spring or as they are going dormant in the fall.  The exception to this is my favorite hydrangea, the Endless Summer hydrangea.  This hydrangea blooms on both old and new growth.    

Old growth bloomers, like the ones shown above, bloom in early summer and are done by midsummer.  They then set buds for the following year in late summer and early fall.  Prune these hydrangeas after they bloom.  Also, remove any spindly or damaged stems at this time.  Trim off just the old blooms as soon as they begin to fade.  Do not prune this bush back to the ground.  Doing this will remove the buds for next years blooms. 

New growth bloomers like the H. paniculata (cone shaped blooms) and snowball bush bloom on new growth.  These can be pruned to the ground in the late winter to early spring.  These can also be trained as a tree.  Careful pruning is required to develop the trunk and main branches. 

Endless Summer: Blooms on old and new wood. You can see the new growth at the bottom and the old wood will bloom first
Endless Summer Hydrangea

There is one exception:  Endless Summer, an endless blooming hydrangea.  This hydrangea produces flowers on both old and new wood.  It blooms in early spring on last years old wood and then again during the summer on this years growth–new wood.  Cut the faded flower stems to half their length to encourage new growth and buds.  Prune after the last bloom in the fall to control the shape and height of the plant.

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