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View Full Version : cutting back hydrangeas??


clif10
04-06-2009, 12:06 PM
i had to transplant a endless summer hydrangea, i bought it as a 3 gallon and its been in the ground for about 3-4 years. i went ahead and cut it back to about 3" from the ground after i moved it. there is new growth, but i was wondering what to expect from the plant now ?

Fahzu
04-06-2009, 12:25 PM
Not sure exactly what you would like to know, but I figure it should come back fine. They can handle the hard pruning every year as far as I know.

Whitey4
04-06-2009, 01:32 PM
You may not get much flowering this year. Some hyrdangas only flower on old wood, while some others will flower on old and new wood. Why did you cut it back so hard?

Danscapes
04-06-2009, 02:44 PM
You will be ok, I cut down endless summers every fall down to about a foot and they do just fine. That is how they are suppose to be pruned.

MingoValley
04-06-2009, 05:13 PM
You should have thinned it out as well. Eliminate some of the old wood and this will enhance the new flower growth. As far as cutting them that low this time of year, you more than likely have removed the buds as well as I see the old growth covered in new buds. Hopefully the new ground growth will produce flowers for the customer.

You should know the basics of pruning: old wood, cross overs, etc.

clif10
04-06-2009, 05:59 PM
the plant is at my house now. i figured id cut it hard this year cause of the relocation, my parents didnt prune it at all!

BostonBull
04-06-2009, 07:58 PM
I wouldnt have cut it that hard. The transplant will stress the plant enough without your heavy handed pruning.

was the plant too big for your liking? Why so low?

clif10
04-07-2009, 12:14 AM
just a fresh start i guess

Drew Gemma
04-07-2009, 12:22 AM
will it survive more than llikely will it bloom yes will it bloom pretty and full probably not no big deal know you know.

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 08:27 AM
just because you have pruning and sheers and have seen it done doesn't mean you should do it.

if that theory is correct, then yu should let a kindergarten student cut your hair....they have seen it done and use scissors all the time.

cgaengineer
04-07-2009, 09:03 AM
It likely will not flower but it will probably live. Last year when I was building my deck I removed 2 of them and transplanted to another location and they were stressed for a few days/week. After that they were fine and actually flowered.

Groomer
04-07-2009, 10:00 AM
I cut these endless summers' back hard every year

clif10
04-07-2009, 10:14 AM
boston bull, ive debated weather or not to cut that back and decided to go with the majority, i research everything i do and eveything i buy so dont compare me to a kindergarden student with shears, im 35, been in the business since i was 16, i dont go around doing things cause i have seen them done, just wondered what i could expect after cutting it back. i dont need your smart a## comments, not everyone knows it all like yourself!

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 05:34 PM
boston bull, ive debated weather or not to cut that back and decided to go with the majority, i research everything i do and eveything i buy so dont compare me to a kindergarden student with shears, im 35, been in the business since i was 16, i dont go around doing things cause i have seen them done, just wondered what i could expect after cutting it back. i dont need your smart a## comments, not everyone knows it all like yourself!


easy fella! too many landscrapers here who do the mow, trim, and blow that try to prune, remove, or "trim" woody plants, shrubs, and trees. Its a specialized field better left to experienced Arborist/Horticulturist IMO.

I told you my feelings on hydrangeas, you don't like them....no need to bash me!

You said you transplanted the plant, then cut 7/8 of its foliage/vascular system off, and defended it by saying your giving it a fresh start. Thats an ignorant statement and shows NO experience to me.

I don't know EVERYTHING, noone does. But I study hard, and have a memory like an elephant.

Good luck to you and your garden! And stop being so sensitive.

punt66
04-07-2009, 05:53 PM
I cut these endless summers' back hard every year

haha i was waiting for someone who knows what they are doing to respond. They get cut to the ground along with all ornamental grasses in early spring every year. The dead wood when uncut will appear to have buds but those buds will not survive. Cut them back!

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 06:30 PM
endless summers are different.....they bud old and new


PUNT66
whats the scientific reason for cutting them back hard every year like grass?

punt66
04-07-2009, 06:43 PM
endless summers are different.....they bud old and new


PUNT66
whats the scientific reason for cutting them back hard every year like grass?

Endless summer is a hearty hydrangea that is popular in the colder areas of the country. They behave differently and can be butchered to the ground every year. They dont "lose" buds like others and are capable of replacing frost bitten buds. Thats why if you cut it down you get all new growth. I dont like to look at dead wood and its an easy cut. Read an artical or two. here is one....


For all mophead hydrangeas, the above method of pruning (Method I) will work very well. However, one may become confused when a neighbor or friend prunes his or her hydrangea in the fall or spring, and his hydrangea blooms just fine. Unlike most mophead hydrangeas, there are a few that will regenerate the bloom buds after the first set is destroyed. These hydrangeas are known as 'remontant'. They seem to be found most abundantly in gardens in more northern regions of the U.S. and Canada. Therefore, on these special hydrangeas, if the bloom buds are killed by frost or pruned off at the wrong time, they will regenerate the bloom bud and bloom as usual. ('Endless Summer' is just such a hydrangea.) To the right is a picture of a hydrangea that has this trait. It was sent to me by Donna from New Britain, CT. I don't believe she has a name for it. Donna says that she pruned this hydrangea in November, and, as we can see, it was covered in bloom the following summer.

punt66
04-07-2009, 06:52 PM
By the way when i say trim to the ground, i am generally speaking about removing 2/3 of the growth. So there would be a total of approx 6" or dead wood left behind. Dont go all the way to the ground. Just wanted to clear that up incase someone went out and trimmed to the dirt.

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 07:37 PM
two things........

WHY are you pruning them? Define DEADWOOD. Is this the leafless stalks left in winter, or canes in the summer with NO foliage/buds/etc?

punt66
04-07-2009, 07:48 PM
I prune them down like i have for the past 30 years successfully to not have to look at "dead wood". I have experimented in the past with not pruning and the buds on the dead wood usually fail. So insteaded of looking at dead wood until june i remove it. Is trimming it down necessary? Nope. But after 30 years of trimming them down in the spring and the occasional deadheading i seemed to grow hydrangea fit for better homes and gardens. But what do i know. I trim them down just like i do ornamental grasses. Is it necessary to trim ornamental grasses? nope. I would take some pics for you but its the wrong time of year.

punt66
04-07-2009, 08:00 PM
two things........

WHY are you pruning them? Define DEADWOOD. Is this the leafless stalks left in winter, or canes in the summer with NO foliage/buds/etc?

when i refer to dead wood, i am actually speaking of old wood. Whats left after winter. There are a few buds on them but they rarely survive. New growth always overpowers old growth.

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 08:10 PM
I am trying to learn here. there are major arguments about pruning hydrangeas.

my thoughts are why wound them, or grasses for that matter, unless there is a definite need for it. too big for the area/look desired, overgrown or getting too thick for the health of the plant, dead wood (real deadwood not bare stalks!).

so by your math, I've been doing it this way for years, that's my reason!

how much fert?

do you also split them like ornamental grasses when they are large enough?

I wish you, or someone here had an actual scientific reason for this type of pruning.

back to the topic at hand.......transplanting and then cutting these down this extremely is wrong.

punt66
04-07-2009, 08:18 PM
Nope. Dont split them but have propogated them. And yes, there is alot to be said for years of green thumb experience. I am not a scientist and neither are you. You can go by what you read in books but when you get right down to it and see the endless summer new growth completely overpower the old growth you realize the old growth isnt doing enough for the plant and just months of eyesore thats unnecessary.

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 08:36 PM
Nope. Dont split them but have propogated them. And yes, there is alot to be said for years of green thumb experience. I am not a scientist and neither are you. You can go by what you read in books but when you get right down to it and see the endless summer new growth completely overpower the old growth you realize the old growth isnt doing enough for the plant and just months of eyesore thats unnecessary.

the OP was NOT talking Endless summer/blushing bride variety.

Not saying WE are scientists but scientific proof is one reason why we do what we do.

What does not producing blooms have to do with photosynthesis, and nutrient production?

punt66
04-07-2009, 09:16 PM
i had to transplant a endless summer hydrangea, i bought it as a 3 gallon and its been in the ground for about 3-4 years. i went ahead and cut it back to about 3" from the ground after i moved it. there is new growth, but i was wondering what to expect from the plant now ?


This is the original post.

punt66
04-07-2009, 09:17 PM
the OP was NOT talking Endless summer/blushing bride variety.

Not saying WE are scientists but scientific proof is one reason why we do what we do.

What does not producing blooms have to do with photosynthesis, and nutrient production?
your photosynthesis comes from new green growth. Not brown/ cold burned stalks.

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 09:25 PM
huh? my photosynthesis? we are talking plant biology here. brown DORMANT stalks, not the dead tips, cold burned canes. photosynthesis is produced via the leaves, this in turn gives the plant its nutrients and health/well being.

you seem to be pruing for blooms, and personal preference....right?
not the health of the plant.

punt66
04-07-2009, 09:27 PM
huh? my photosynthesis? we are talking plant biology here. brown DORMANT stalks, not the dead tips, cold burned canes. photosynthesis is produced via the leaves, this in turn gives the plant its nutrients and health/well being.

you seem to be pruing for blooms, and personal preference....right?
not the health of the plant.


I am not going to debate symantics here. Photosyntheses occures in green leaves. New growth. I guess my picture perfect perenial beds are that way because i dont prune for the health of the plant. :confused:

punt66
04-07-2009, 09:31 PM
I also have hydrangea trees and japanese maples linning my inground pool as a privacy fence. I guess my my maples and hydrangea trees arnt meant to be used as a privacy fence. Its called pruning. You shape the plantings to fit your space and for the look achieved. Plantings are very versatile and to use the argument that pruning for only the "health" of the plant doesnt float in my book.

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 09:36 PM
I also have hydrangea trees and japanese maples linning my inground pool.
all green leaves produce sugars, not just new growth BTW

not sure of the signifigance of your above statement? I have dogwood, hickory, and azalea lining my driveway.


you cut these to the ground yearly too?

punt66
04-07-2009, 09:42 PM
all green leaves produce sugars, not just new growth BTW

not sure of the signifigance of your above statement? I have dogwood, hickory, and azalea lining my driveway.


you cut these to the ground yearly too?

hahha not unless you want to get rid of them. There are no leaves on an endless summer after winter! All leaves are new growth.

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 09:55 PM
my point exactly.....there are no leaves on a jap maple after winter either!

punt66
04-07-2009, 10:12 PM
my point exactly.....there are no leaves on a jap maple after winter either!

Thats a tree. You cant compare an apple to a strawberry.

punt66
04-07-2009, 10:14 PM
my point exactly.....there are no leaves on a jap maple after winter either!

You also cant blanket your pruning habits across all varieties of plants and trees.

BostonBull
04-07-2009, 10:59 PM
which brings me back to my original question......why!? why are we supposed to prune hydragea this way?

punt66
04-07-2009, 11:14 PM
which brings me back to my original question......why!? why are we supposed to prune hydragea this way?
Not just hydrangea. Endless summer. Not all hydrangeas are to be pruned the same. With an endless summer its perfectly fine to prune it all the way down because like i said the new growth overtakes the old and the old is an eyesore for months.

kabrac
04-07-2009, 11:31 PM
Some of the ones we have around here such as Bigleaf,French,Oakleaf hydrandeas buds form on old wood so they are to be pruned after flowering. Panicle,Smooth hydrangeas buds on new wood, so prune them when dormant and remove spent blossoms after flowering. It's all when and how the plant blooms that we know when to prune them. As a general rule, prune spring flowering trees and shrubs soon after they bloom. Summer flowering trees and shrubs bloom on new wood so they are best pruned 4-6 weeks before spring growth. I believe endless summers bloom on new wood, so you would prune them when dormant like others have said.

clif10
04-08-2009, 12:14 AM
thanks all for your input, by the way it seems to be doing just fine! hey boston bull, when the plant matures and starts to flower i plan on cutting off some of the blooms, now why would i do that?

punt66
04-08-2009, 07:09 AM
thanks all for your input, by the way it seems to be doing just fine! hey boston bull, when the plant matures and starts to flower i plan on cutting off some of the blooms, now why would i do that?

Flower arrangment!! i got i got it. But you might ruin the vascular system. oh well. Your endless summer will do fine.

BostonBull
04-08-2009, 07:13 AM
thanks all for your input, by the way it seems to be doing just fine! hey boston bull, when the plant matures and starts to flower i plan on cutting off some of the blooms, now why would i do that?
for flower production of course! no other reason than that, its certainly not for the health of the tree.

what I was trying to do here was get Punt, and others, to admit that they areNOT "pruning" for the health of the plant, or structure of the plant. that they were in fact TRIMMING for their own happiness to see pretty flowers.

clif good job man you aced the transplant and trim! I am impressed!

BostonBull
04-08-2009, 07:25 AM
Flower arrangment!! i got i got it. But you might ruin the vascular system. oh well. Your endless summer will do fine.

there ya go Punt! you finally admitted that your heavy handed techniques aren't what's b est for the plant.

we have to be careful with the information we put out on this and other boards. some unsuspecting homeowner comes on here, sees that you have been cutting lawns for over 15 years and takes your word as gold. different plants call for different situations. in this instance, with a recent transplant a severe, and more than likely unnecessary, cutback like this wasn't the best option. let the plant adjust to its new home and then PRUNE as needed.

clif10
04-08-2009, 10:11 AM
heres my story, my parents house went up for sale due to the loss of my dad, i went and dug up hostas and the hydrangea, i need to figure out how to post pics, cause you should see the ball on this hydrangea, i made it especially big because i was transplanting , i would have preferred to have done it in late nov. but that wasnt the case. anyone with suggestions on how to transplant clematis!!!

Groomer
04-08-2009, 10:55 AM
The bull is bulling and the punter keeps punting! HA! To further this lively discussion, I also severely prune my oakleaf hydrangeas about every 3 years....

BostonBull
04-08-2009, 11:58 AM
BIG no no on the quercifolia. these should be pruned like any other woody ornamental (viburnum, andromeda, etc) or ornamental flowering tree (dogwood, pagoda, chaintree, etc)

I spoke to Baileys Nurseries, the people who invented endlass summer, blushing brides, etc. the woman with whom I spoke is in charge of the trials for these plants. She agrees that these should be PRUNED, if the plant is healthy, shape it some if needed but let it grow.* If there is obvious dead, take it out.


here is a link from her......
http://endlesssummerblooms.com/en/consumer/plants/theoriginal/care/pruning

Be well!

Groomer
04-08-2009, 12:24 PM
cool site. Never had a problem with treating the oakleaf that way, wouldn't do it if I wasn't sure of the root strength. (i.e. mature, established plants.)

BostonBull
04-08-2009, 12:44 PM
are you topping&heading these back, or reducing to proper laterals?

pics of them with no foliage?

punt66
04-08-2009, 02:09 PM
there ya go Punt! you finally admitted that your heavy handed techniques aren't what's b est for the plant.

we have to be careful with the information we put out on this and other boards. some unsuspecting homeowner comes on here, sees that you have been cutting lawns for over 15 years and takes your word as gold. different plants call for different situations. in this instance, with a recent transplant a severe, and more than likely unnecessary, cutback like this wasn't the best option. let the plant adjust to its new home and then PRUNE as needed.

Creating a creative gaerden the way a person envisions takes heavy handed techniqes at times. Its not the same for all species across the board. I dont know about you but i plant endless summer hydrangea to produce flowers and lots of them. Forcing blooms and creating more new growth is essential for their look. If your more interested in plant "health" then your vision of what a garden needs or should look like then your garden wont become visially what it could be. Gardening is about manipulating, transplanting, and going for a vision. I can make an endless summer half pink and half blue with some half pink and half blue blooms in the middle by manipulating the soil. Its a tough plant and will do fine. Your argument about plant health is valid if the plant had issues. But forcing a healthy plant to do what you want it to do to create a beautiful garden is what gardening is thatall about. When my perenial beds are in full swing i will take pics and repost here to show you waht i have accomplished. I have even forced an apple tree to grow like a vine as a backdrop to a pond i installed. I had never done that before and had that vision and about 12 years ago tried it on that job. Every year i maintain it by pruning it and moving branches and i have created a screen of apple producing foliage that the customers can walk up to without a pole and pick and eat their apples.

punt66
04-08-2009, 02:27 PM
there ya go Punt! you finally admitted that your heavy handed techniques aren't what's b est for the plant.

we have to be careful with the information we put out on this and other boards. some unsuspecting homeowner comes on here, sees that you have been cutting lawns for over 15 years and takes your word as gold. different plants call for different situations. in this instance, with a recent transplant a severe, and more than likely unnecessary, cutback like this wasn't the best option. let the plant adjust to its new home and then PRUNE as needed.

by the way that was sarcasm just incase you didnt pick up on it. Without visual clues sarcasm on paper can be missed easily. Happens to me often hahha

BostonBull
04-08-2009, 05:28 PM
by the way that was sarcasm just incase you didnt pick up on it. Without visual clues sarcasm on paper can be missed easily. Happens to me often hahha

THAT was too! i know you wouldnt admit to it....

What we have to remember is WE are trained pros with years of experience who know what a plant can and cant survive. Some of these young guys who mow and blow see what we do, and try it and end up spreading cancerous techniques. Worse yet are the poor homeowners who see these remarks and take them as gold......then they start hedge trimming their jap maples, and dogwoods because they see some idiot doing it to the arbovitae!

Groomer
04-09-2009, 09:20 AM
Bull, no pics but I'll try to shoot one, as last fall they were cut back. I noticed yesterday that they are just starting to break dormancy. The lawns are all kickin' in so been busy. Punt here's a pic from last summer of my front from the street, taken around mid june?

punt66
04-09-2009, 12:30 PM
Bull, no pics but I'll try to shoot one, as last fall they were cut back. I noticed yesterday that they are just starting to break dormancy. The lawns are all kickin' in so been busy. Punt here's a pic from last summer of my front from the street, taken around mid june?

Love it! Nice job. Cant wait till the season is in full swing. Hopefully i dont get stung 25 times like last year though. I hit so many ground nests last year.

Groomer
04-10-2009, 10:58 AM
I got lucky on the ground nests last year, the guys all found 'em first!