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If you inherit a garden, you’ll almost certainly discover a very unloved and ancient Hydrangea somewhere. This is how you should bring it back to its former glory.
Hydrangeas can get very woody if they’re not looked after, but there are a few tips to revive a hydrangea and get it producing those magical globes of flowers once again. If you prune it right, you can invigorate just about any plant, allowing you to enjoy summer blooms from your plants once again.
Deadhead in spring
There’s a general rule in gardening that you should deadhead everything, but before you take the scissors to your hydrangea, beware! The growing tips of hydrangeas can be tender, so it’s best to leave flowers in place throughout the winter.
When new growth appears in the spring, and the weather becomes milder, old flowers can be removed. Stems should be cut back to the first strong bud beneath each flower.
Take each dead flower from the year before in your hand. Trace your finger back to the first healthy bud beneath the old flower head. Using sharp secateurs, cut cleanly through the stem above the healthy bud. Continue this process until all old flowers have been removed.
Renovate or reduce the size
You can cut more off than just flowerheads if you want to reduce the bush’s size. If you just want to reduce of the branches of your mophead hydrangeas, cut them down in summer before August or risk not seeing any flowers in the following year. Hydrangea paniculata or arborescens can be pruned at any time.
If you’re trying to breathe life into an older plant, remove a few of the old woody stems, cutting them back to ground level. This can also be done in spring as you deadhead your hydrangeas. Identify any dead or diseased stems. These can be black, devoid of any leaves, or contain withered buds. Using sharp secateurs again, entirely remove these stems by tracing your finger back to healthy plant material or soil level and cutting cleanly through the branch.
Prune climbing hydrangea in the summer
Climbing hydrangeas are ideally pruned in the summer, immediately after they’ve flowered. Long shoots can be cut back to a main branch, but don’t cut more than a third of the overall plant off, otherwise you’ll reduce flowering for the following year.