JWR
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2005 7:44 am

Pee Gee Hydrangea Pruning

I have a pee gee that is about 5 feet tall, not inculding the branches that are bent with the weight of the flowers. It had to be staked in order to support their weight. I would like to prune it but to my novice eyes there is no obvious way to do this. About two feet from the ground, three branches grow upright from the trunk. One branch is about an inch below the two others. It also is more mature and taller than the others. Each of these has many shoots. I suspect I should choose one of the main branches to eliminate. Anyone have any advice as to how to prune?

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Grey
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 8:42 pm
Location: Summerville, GA, Zone 7a

Hey JWR - how old is your hydrangea?

Paniculatas (PeeGee types) can be pruned in the fall or winter, so your timing is great.

I suggest trimming out crossing branches and those that do not contribute to an attractive form.

All dead wood should be removed from hydrangeas every year. After the plants are at least 4 years old, about 1/3 of the older stems can be removed down to the ground.

Hope that helps!

The Helpful Gardener
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Location: Colchester, CT

The other thought here is selecting a single branch and staking it to get a tree form in later years; there is a row of these plants in the town where I work that are 5' tall trunks that are 10"-12" in caliper (easily a hundred years old!). They are cut back to the same point yearly and the lady who owns the house sells the lot to a florist at a tidy profit. More importantly these trunks don't bend (for the obvious reasons) and make for a very nice presentation...

That bigger lower branch sounds like a good start to a tree form; this plant can be pruned right until June really and not lose the blossom, so I would cut it to the selected trunk and leave the whole leader for now (minus blooms and really soft wood). Wait for the breaks in spring and select your branches, cutting them back about halfway in May. Wait for fall and blossoms; repeat (until tree trunk reaches desired height. That's my favorite way to show off this fall beauty! :D

HG

JWR
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2005 7:44 am

PeeGee

I don't know how old my PeeGee is. I bought it two years ago. I would guess about 5 or 6 years.
I do want my PeeGee to be trained like a tree. There are no branches lower than two feet. I thought I should do major pruning now because it is so weighted down and am afraid the weight will break off major branches. I'm from CT and am concerned snow and rain will add further strain. The diameter of the trunk is only at most two inches.I'm not sure what you mean by cutting it to the selected trunk. Should I prune all new growth(soft wood)?

The Helpful Gardener
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Location: Colchester, CT

Exactly so; that and any wood that falls outside of the eventual shape you want. Sounds (and looks) brutal, but a few lean years now will lead to a great plant down the road, and this one is a toughie and can take the abuse, and besides you might save it from a hurricane thrashing as we are in the cone still for Wilma...Good luck

HG



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