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Timing is all

WHY am I having such a problem in figuring this out?!

Potted hydrangea, a gift so variety unknown, produced HUGE white flowers every summer. Perfectly lovely. Then, surely prompted by something I read, in January 2017 I pruned radically. The result? NO blooms at all until just very recently which means of course they're not going to have time to mature and get big, etc. So for ten points, what is my next step? When do I prune, or should I perhaps not at all?

Would be so grateful for counsel, and thank you.

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Timing is all

hydrangea doesn't need much pruning, just cut off winter killed branches and ones that are crossing and rubbing on each other.

You probably have some type of snowball hydrangea. It blooms on old wood. That means it sets the buds for next year's flowers now. If you prune now or in January, you are pruning the buds off that will flower next summer. If you have to prune, do it immediately after it is finished flowering.
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Greener Thumb
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Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:31 pm
Location: Hurst, TX USA Zone 7b/8a

Re: Timing is all

Hydrangeas usually do not need to be pruned if one puts them in a location or in a pot where they will attain their estimated size at maturity. However, potted hydrangeas sold by florists and grocery stores often do not include this information. In those cases, assume that the shrub will get to 5-6' (height and width). If you live in the South, where the growing season is longer, expect a bigger bush by the time the plant goes dormant in the Fall (or Winter). If you live in the North, where the growing season can sometimes be shorter, expect a smaller bush size by the time that the plant goes dormant.

If you see any stems that do not leaf out by the end of May, those stems can be cut down all the way as they will be dead.

If you see stems that cross or if you want to let some sun in the middle of the shrub, you can prune those too but when to prune depends on the type of hydrangea. Mopheads normally produce invisible flower buds in July-August (July in the South and August in the northern states) and these then open in the Spring. So do not prune them on or after July-August. Instead wait until after they have bloomed (so you can enjoy the blooms) but before the end of June. So-called "reblooming" mopheads will have another flush of blooms in the Summer or Fall.

Deadheading, which means cutting off the spent blooms, is a different story. You can deadhead the blooms at any time.Or let Mother Nature do it for you. Some people leave them "on" for winter interest. Others deadhead them as soon as they change color (for example, some people want blue blooms ONLY and deadhead the blooms as soon as the blue blooms turn green-ish or pink-ish or green/pink-ish).

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