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Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 8:44 am
Location: Gloucestershire

H. paniculata 'Unique' in UK - VERY LEGGY!!


we have a Hydrangea paniculata 'Unique' (still in it's plastic pot we bought it in over a year ago I'm sorry to say!) It's very leggy and, although it did produce some flowers these last 2 summers, the plant is probably about 60-70% 'woody legs' below. It apparently should produce 'massive conical upright heads of white flowers in late summer, tinged pink in autumn' - not quite what I was expecting when it happened then... :?

Could it be just that it needs planting out from it's pot (it doesn't appear to be too large for it if you ask me though) or is it that we haven't pruned it enough / at the right time?? It's had plenty of water over the summer (not that the UK gets all that hot and it doesn't last long before it cools off or rains anyway). What tends to happen is that we go to nuseries / g. centres and get all excited, buying plants before we know exactly where to put them - we still have a house to finish, let alone the gardens, so some plants get left in pots for some time, before we can get around to sorting them out!

Anybody got any suggestions about pruning / feeding / watering / planting, etc. that may help it? I don't really know much about gardening at all yet and I don't really have any pics to send as my own laptop's not working at the moment and that's where they all are, sorry... :oops:

Any help would be most appreciated and I will make the effort to nurse this one asap if necessary so as not to lose it!

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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Well, I'm not much of an expert on this, but I saw that no one had responded to your post, so I will make a stab at it. I'm going to also PM someone who is a hydrangea expert, see if I can get him to respond to your question also.

If you have had it in the pot it came in for more than a year it is almost certainly potbound. Doesn't matter that it doesn't look too large. If it is potbound, its growth is getting stunted and so it never will get very big. Pull it out of the pot and look at the roots. If they are going round and round the outside of the rootball, it definitely needs to be in a bigger pot (or preferably in the ground).

But there's another issue about caring for this, which is that even when you wrote this post it was 11/30, I.e. nearly winter. I don't know what your winters are like there, how much freezing you get, etc. But winter is not a good time to be planting or doing too much to it. Don't fertilize it now. If it is potbound and if you have a month or so before the ground freezes, I'd go ahead and plant it anyway. They don't really need much pruning, but if there's any dead branches, crossing branches, or too much leggy stuff, now is a good time to cut it back some, especially if you are planting it out... give the roots a bit less to support.

Hope this helps... I'll see if I can recruit you some more help!

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Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 8:44 am
Location: Gloucestershire

Hi, thanks!

Our winters don't tend to be all that bad here (at least not on any regular or sustained basis). It's still been very mild on the whole, apart from it being rather foggy and ever so slightly icy this morning. Glad you said about the pruning now - I did it last week, not too much, but just enough to tidy it all up and like you said 'take off any crossing branches' too.
We just don't know where to put it at the moment (haven't got a lot of room left for a plant that may get as big as it could and are still moving things around - been having fun with our garden since we moved in about 3 years ago, but doing up the house comes first at the moment with young children around, so the garden gets a look at 'as and when' unfortunately! One day we'll finish the house and be able to enjoy some more gardening...)
I will most certainly whip it out and have a quick look at the roots though as you suggest and if nothing else, get it into a larger pot for the forseeable, then maybe plant it mid-end of springtime 2010...
Thanks for your help! :D

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