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I have had a very busy spring season as this last winter delivered the most snow we have had on the ground for the longest duration that I can remember. With most of the damage to the plants accruing during the melting and compaction, with the weight of that ice braking and crushing things to the ground.

This is the first time in weeks I’ve had to write. The temperatures this winter were well below normal where for several days in a row never got above 10 degrees and below zero was everyday for a time. For many of our plants this was extreme and plants like hydrangea were hit hard and most will have scant to no bloom at all this year and the only hope for some of us will be the repeat bloomers and PeeGee’s that bloom on new growth much later this fall. I am asked all the time about when should I cut back my hydrangea and will I be cutting off the bloom in doing so?

Let me make this simple and easy, in my opinion there are four types of hydrangea,  the big leaf hydrangea ( Hydrangea macrophylla ) is the least hardy under harsh winters. These have both large and small mop head like blooms as well as lace cap shapes.  Pruning these should happen in the spring as the bloom on these are set on the previous years growth. Then there is the smaller leaf hydrangea and largest group the Pee Gee ( Hydrangea paniculata ) and are the most hardy and can be enjoyed for generation and are best known as grandmothers favorite. These most often have large and small conical shape blooms and also have lace cap types as well. Pruning on these can be hard and done in the spring or fall as they bloom on new growth and will set bud and bloom in the same year. However the lace cap varieties set bloom on previous years growth and only dead heading the previous seasons bloom will be required. Then there are the  oak leaf hydrangea ( Hydrangea quercifolia ) and are the fanciest of hydrangea are cold hardy and enjoys more shade than others and need little to no pruning, but only to repair damage or shape, and should happen in the spring as growth appears and bud seat is apparent. Then there is the climber ( Hydrangea petiolaris ) slow starters and some time hard to get to bloom for several years, but are hardy to cold climates and seldom need pruning like the Oak leaf hydrangea, but should never be planted near the house or dwelling as is known to lift shingles and fill attics.

With the harsh winter we had and the snow melt compaction, than extreme cold nights right thru April the exposed tips of the big leaf hydrangea froze, leaving half dead sticks standing. This is a waiting game as we watch to see where the growth will return in order to determine the point of pruning back to active growth.

I have always loved Hydrangea and the thought of not having their presence in the garden as being with less grace. The highs are when the winters are mild and the summer blooms so profuse and glorious, that heaven is truly on earth. The lows are harsh winters with extreme cold and wrong pruning with scant to now bloom and just being left with foliage and thought of what could have been.               cropped-border_edited-1.jpg

A thought; Life is full of Highs and Lows, it’s what we do during them that matters most.

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