Removing Dead Hydrangea Blooms
Removing dead hydrangea blooms is necessary so as to give the next bunch of blooms enough room. The technique you use when removing the dead blooms depends on the type hydrangea you are dealing with.
Hydrangeas that Bloom on Old Wood
There are basically two types of hydrangeas. Those that bloom on old wood, meaning that the plant produces new Spring blooms on the previous year’s buds. One of the ways of identifying these hydrangeas is noting that they bloom in early summer. Also, because they bloom early, their flowers also die by mid-Summer. Followed soon by the development of buds which will bloom the following year. Examples of hydrangea varieties that bloom on old wood are Oakleaf, Mopleaf, Bigleaf or Lacecap.
When removing dead blooms on these types of hydrangeas, it’s important to do it as soon as the blooms fade. This is usually in late Summer or in early Fall. Removing the dead blooms early is necessary because you can do any trimming before the new buds are produced. If you wait for too long, then chances are that you will cut off some of next year’s growth.
To remove the dead blooms, use hand shears to deadhead the blooms. Immediately after they are spent, make clips under the heads along the stems at a point above a bud and preferably above two buds. This way you will get lateral growth. The process also tidy’s up to the appearance of the plant.
In case the plant has dead canes, dying canes, broken canes, it’s best to trim them at this time by cutting them all the way at the base.
Hydrangeas that Bloom on New Wood
Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood produce new growth every Spring. The blooms appear in late Summer and are all from the new growth. These varieties tend to flower later in the season compared to the varieties that bloom from old wood. This is because they require extra time to create buds. Examples of varieties that bloom on new wood include Smooth hydrangeas such as Annabelle, Panicle hydrangeas such as Limelight.
When working with these varieties, it’s important to remove dead blooms during Winter before they start growing. Some people also remove the dead bloom during other times. However, you want to avoid any form of trimming when the flowers are about to bloom in Spring and Summer.
You can also time your deadheading to give you the size of the flowers you want. If you remove the dead flowers in Winter, you will get bigger and showier flowers. If you deadhead in the Fall, you will have smaller blooms produced on sturdier stems.
To remove the dead flowers, you don’t have to be as cautious as to when working with the old wood varieties. You can cut as much as a 1/3 of the stems with the dead flowers.
General Removal of Dead Hydrangea Blooms
In general, you want to remove the dead blooms to improve the appearance of the plant as well as to promote fresh growth. However, you also want to remove dead canes and crossed branches as well. Use your shears to cut off any unwanted branches. You may also need to use loppers to trim stronger and older canes at the base of the plant. This is especially necessary when dealing with hydrangeas that are several years old and have started producing fewer and smaller blooms.
Cleaning up the plant improves airflow and provides the buds with enough room to grow strong and produce beautiful blooms. Cleaning the plant also removes any branches or leaves that might be sick and prevents the spread of the diseases.
You might also consider pruning the plant more intensely to reduce its size or shape it. If your hydrangea has grown so big and is occupying too much space. However, when cutting the canes, it’s important to note that the hydrangea blooms are heavy. Don’t get carried away pruning old canes because the branches need them for support. The weight of the flowers can cause the branches to flop over and you might be forced to prop them up.
You can also check this article on deadheading clematis if you have some or are considering growing them in the future.
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