By Joanne K., Pitt County EMGV
Gorgeous hydrangea blooms in hues of pink, purple, blue, white, and green are the current stars of eastern NC gardens. These shrubs have really rebounded this year with robust blooms after the disappointing hydrangea displays in 2022 due to an exceptionally dry year.
But now as the blooms start to fade, gardeners are faced with the question of when to prune their plants.
Pruning is needed to remove old blooms, control size and shape, remove diseased/damaged stems and leaves, or rejuvenate an overgrown plant.
The rule of thumb for hydrangeas is if they bloom on old wood, cut back immediately after blooming, removing only about 1/3 of the plant. If they bloom on new wood, prune after flowering or in winter.
The challenge is to determine what kind of hydrangea you have.
Hydrangea blooms are perfect for dry, indoor winter arrangements. An easy way to dry the blooms is to place the mature flowers with all of the leaves stripped from the stem in a container with a couple of inches of water. Keep the container out of direct sunlight.
In a couple of weeks, the process will be complete. The blooms won't absorb the water, and the dried color will be more vibrant than ones allowed to dry on the stem. Google "how to dry hydrangeas" for more information.
With careful plant selection, your garden can feature a beautiful continuous hydrangea display from late spring into the fall and winter!
'Merritt's Supreme Hydrangea,' H. macrophylla, Pink Bigleaf Hydrangea,
in the Wet Site Garden at the Pitt County Arboretum. Photo by Joanne K.
Oakleaf Hydrangea, H. quercifolia,
in row 2 of the Walking Trail at the Pitt County Arboretum. Photo by Joanne K.
'Limelight Hydrangea', H. paniculata,
in the Perennial Garden at the Pitt County Arboretum. Photo by Cindy C.