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Pruning our hydrangeas, crossing our fingers

By on November 25, 2013

How to Prune Hydrangeas | Rather Square

The temperatures are dropping fast here in the Midwest, and we’ve been attempting to do a little landscaping maintenance and pruning in the garden before winter sets in. One of the plants we’ve enjoyed watching bloom this summer and fall is our beautiful Annabelle hydrangea bush.

Annabelle Hydrangea | Rather Square

Annabelle Hydrangea | Rather Square

In my original post about Annabelle, I talked about doing some research on how to care for it after the growing season so that it would continue to flourish for many years to come. I learned that this particular kind of hydrangea doesn’t NEED to be pruned, but for a bushier plant with fewer but larger blooms, pruning in autumn once it stops blooming will help encourage new growth and blossoms the following spring. Because our Annabelle lives along the stone pathway that leads to our backyard, I don’t want it to grow too large and obstruct the space we need to walk back there, so I decided to try pruning it this year and see how that worked.

I waited until all the blooms had pretty much dried up and turned brown.

Pruning Hydrangeas | Rather Square

Then I got in there with my garden shears and started cutting. It was a little nerve-wracking to cut down this showpiece of the garden so much, especially since I’m definitely an amateur at this! But I went for it and pruned until the remaining branches and stems were left about 24 inches from the ground.

Pruning Hydrangeas | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas | Rather Square

We gathered up the cuttings and put them into a yard waste bag for pickup. There were a LOT, but John managed to fit them into just one bag somehow.

Pruning Hydrangeas | Rather Square

It was good to be able to clear out dead branches and stray blooms. As I pruned, I was able to better view the individual bushes, and we could see that we have four distinct plants living there. The bush closest to our neighbors’ house had even started to get entwined in their chain-link fence, so I untangled and snipped out all those branches – hopefully they won’t be so wild next year.

Here’s the finished product. (I took these “after” photos a week later, and you can see how the Japanese maple on the right dropped all its leaves in that time!)

Pruning Hydrangeas | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas | Rather Square

The difference is dramatic! It looks a little bleak right now, but hopefully the flowers will spring back to life once we’re on the other side of winter.

(UPDATE: This pruning method worked – our hydrangeas did bloom beautifully the following summer! You can see the spring buds here, and the full summer flowers here.)

Pruning Hydrangeas | Rather Square

Whew! So that’s done, and now we can check this bit of garden maintenance off our list for the year. Fingers crossed that this pruning thing works. We’ll see what happens come spring!

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November 25, 2013

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