When it comes to care and maintenance of bush of hydrangea, it will be related to pruning. However, one thing that you need to know about pruning hydrangea is that there are some types of hydrangea which will blooms from old wood. So, if you prune the wrong wood, it will be a mistake.
Hydrangeas Which Bloom on Old Wood and How to Prune Them
There are three types of hydrangea which blooms on old wood. Those are Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla cvs., USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 9), Oakleaf hydrangeas (H. quercifolia cvs., Z 5 to 9), and Bigleaf hydrangeas (H. serrata cvs., Z 6 to 9).
How to prune this kind of hydrangeas? You are able to prune them after the flower start to fade in late summer. It is done to determine if your hydrangea blooms on old wood. Bushes which have this characteristics usually will start blooming in early summer and then wilt in midsummer, even though you may see sporadic blooms may appear after that. These bushes will form the flower buds for the next year in late summer or early fall as the days get shorter and temperatures cool off. You are able to reduce the risk of removing these buds by pruning just as the flowers start to fade. If you get it done earlier after bloom, you can recover the bushes quicker so that they can produce more and bigger blooms in the next season.
If you want to have a hydrangea plant with a tidy look, you are able to remove old blooms. You can cut the blooms just below the flower head. Any wayward or straggly canes at the soil line can also be removed. You are also able to improve vigor of your hydrangea bushes by removing the oldest canes. When you see that your hydrangea is old and woody, you will see that they produce smaller blooms. So, you are able to do regular removal of a few of the oldest canes at the soil line to keep the bushes vigorous. As a result, you will find that they produce large and a lot of flowers. You are also able to do the same thing to keep a bush from getting too tall by targeting the tallest canes for removal. For further details of pruning, you can read also how to prune hydrangea bust into a tree.
Hydrangeas Which Bloom on New Wood and How to Prune Them
There are two types of hydrangeas which bloom on new wood. Those are Panicle hydrangeas (H. paniculata and cvs., Z 4 to 8) and Smooth hydrangeas (H. arborescens and cvs., Z 4 to 9). For these types of hydrangea, you are able to cut back the bushes in late winter before new growth starts. It is important for you to know that they have to grow and set buds the same year that they bloom, so shrubs that flower on new wood usually begin blossoming later than old-growth bloomers. It usually starts in midsummer and continuing until the first frost. As long as you avoid pruning when the flower buds are opening, these bushes are forgiving if pruning is not done at a certain time.
You are able to cut them all the way back if you want to get bigger flowers. You are able to cut the bushes all the way back to the ground in late winter or early spring. If smooth hydrangeas are pruned hard like this every year, they will produce much bigger blooms. However, there are a lot of gardeners choose for having smaller blooms o studier stems.
You are able to leave a framework of old growth if you want to reduce flopping. You need to know that some branches of hydrangeas often fall under the weight of their blooms, particularly after overhead irrigation or after a good rain. One of the ways to handle this flopping is to cut the stems to a height of 18 to 24 inches. It is done to provide a sturdy framework to support new growth.
How To Water Hydrangea
In the first year or two after your hydrangea is planted and also during any drought, you have to water them a lot. Throughout the growing season, water them at a rate of 1 inch per week. You are able to water 3 times a week deeply. This is done to encourage the growth of root.
If you plant bigleaf and smooth hydrangeas, you need to know that they need more water. To water hydrangeas, you can do it in the morning to prepare them for the heat of the day. You are also able to use a soaker hose to water deeply and keep moisture off the leaves and flowers.
Fertilizing Your Hydrangea
If you are lucky because you have rich soil, you may not need to fertilize hydrangeas. However, if you give too much fertilizer, it may burn your plant. So, the best way that you can do is to use a soil test to know the condition of your soil.
It is also important for you to know that each variety of hydrangeas has different needs of fertilizer. If you plant a bigleaf hyderangea such as Hydrangea Endless Summer Bloomstruck, it can be fertilized by several light fertilizer applications in March, May and June. If the hydrangea that you plant is oakleaf and panicle, you can apply fertilizer in April and June. If you plant smooth hydrangea, you only need fertilization once namely in late winter.
Protecting Hydrangea from Winter
When fall comes, you are able to cover plants to a depth of at least 18 inches with bark mulch, leaves, pine needles or straw. If you think that it is possible, you are even able to cover the whole plant including the tip of it. You are able to do that by making cages out of snow fencing or chicken wire.
Well to avoid wrong maintenance in cold climates you may read also this article about hydrangea care in winter. Then, you can loosely fill the cages with leaves. It is important for you to know that when you do this, do not use maple leaves. It is because they have a tendency to may when they are wet and then they can suffocate the plant.