Pruning and fertilizing hydrangeas mid-season is something you should consider. In my part of the U.S. this is my final seasonal opportunity to give my hydrangeas their last cuts and food for this year. Maybe for you too.
PRUNING YOUR HYDRANGEA TO IMPROVE YOUR PLANTS’ LOOK
If you were lucky enough to get flowers on your big leaf or mountain hydrangeas, they may look like this. The new growth has begun to hide those fabulous flowers.
Hydrangea flowers in mid-season can be hidden by new growth
If you want to reveal those flowers, now is the time to cut those stems back. A reminder: anytime you cut your plant you will stimulate it, so get this cutting done by about August 1. When you cut later on, the plant uses its energy to produce new stems and that takes away the energy it needs to work on flowers for next year. Plus much of that new growth will be weak and possibly unable to survive the coming winter. This is what my plant looked like after removing some top growth:
Hydrangea after mid-season pinch pruning
You might even want to take those cuttings and root them for more plants. I did that two years ago with my Hydrangea serrata Tuff Stuff™ Red and this is what one baby looks like now. I am loving it!
If you want info on propagating hydrangeas, read THIS POST. Scroll down to where you see “ROOTING YOUR CUTTING.”
“PINCH PRUNING” YOUR HYDRANGEA FOR MORE FLOWERS NEXT YEAR
In addition to improving the look of your plant, hydrangea pruning mid-season means cutting your plant now to help it make more flowers for next year (“pinching”). You simply remove the growing tip just above where you see two leaf nodes.
This forces the plant’s growth hormones into those two nodes which will become stems that can produce flowers going forward. The below photo shows a stem that I “pinched.” I got two flowers instead of just one, the desired result.
FERTILIZING HYDRANGEAS – MID SEASON
Now for part two: fertilizing your hydrangeas in mid-season. There are differing opinions on fertilizing your hydrangeas. I am firmly in the camp of helping hydrangeas thrive and have learned it is especially beneficial if your soil needs a minor improvement.
One of my “a-ha moments” from our Covid lockdown is that fertilizing made all the difference in how my hydrangeas performed. Like others, my schedule was abruptly aborted, so I used the “found” time in my garden. I actually did what I have been advising my audiences to do: fertilized big leaf and mountain hydrangeas in July. The results were more than encouraging and convinced me I need to continue this practice.
THE REASONS TO FERTILIZE SOME HYDRANGEAS
Remember that on rebloomers, the more you cut the tips, the more flowers you will get along the stem for later season color. Your rebloomers can use the extra nutrients to continue to put out new flowers. Deadheading and/or cutting flowers for bouquets also stimulates the plant to grow new stems for future flowers.
Even if your plant is not a rebloomer, a mid-season boost of fertilizer will help it set buds later this season for next year. It’s that simple.
FEEDING OTHER HYDRANGEAS MID SEASON
Feeding your other hydrangeas mid-season isn’t necessary. The oak leafs, panicles, woodland, and climbing hydrangeas are all pretty self sufficient, unless you have an issue that needs to be remedied. A soil test will reveal that need. Normally, they can get their annual feeding (if at all) next spring.
THE BEST FERTILIZER FOR HYDRANGEAS
Rose food is ideal as is any granulated shrub fertilizer, either organic or a time release product. I don’t recommend products like 10-10-10. No plant uses nutrients in equal amounts so when you use 10-10-10 (or other fertilizers that have the same 3 numbers) what you are doing is contributing to run-off and local pollution issues.
WATCH OUT FOR TICKS
Fertilizing hydrangeas forces you to get down at the ground level, sometimes crawling beneath your plant. That action may disturb ticks that then light on you. I have learned this lesson the hard way as I usually pick up several ticks when fertilizing. So be aware and do a tick check regularly, especially after fertilizing.
UPCOMING PUBLIC SPEAKING DATES
Bookings for later this year and into 2024 have been brisk. I am scheduling Zoom/virtual talks as well as in person presentations. If you or someone in your organization wants to discuss these possibilities, use the “Contact Me” tab on my site. Note that I speak on other than hydrangeas, but that topic never gets old!
Thanks for reading.
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