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Pruning for Hydrangeas and Other Large Shrubs

Fire Light – paniculata hydrangea

Hydrangeas are  the first shrub we thought of when we bought our Greenfield house. It would provide privacy between us and the house next to us, and it  would  take up a lot of room. It was a major part of our garden plan to include plants that would not need a lot  of work.

However every shrub will need some work and pruning is the major need of hydrangeas.  We planted three hydrangeas, Limelight, Angels Blush, and Fire Light. I specifically bought Angel’s Blush because its tag said it would grow very large, just what we wanted as a friendly barrier.

The hydrangeas were all planted in 2015. By 2019 it was definitely time to start pruning.

Limelight hydrangea

This Limelight hydrangea is closest to the sidewalk. Not pruned at that this moment.

Pruning instructions for a mature plant

I turned to my old Pruning Simplified by Lewis Hill book. He covers every kind of pruning. He says you can prune pack half the crowded hydrangea stems one year, and then take out a few more the following year. I have started taking  out some of those branches. In addition, I once attended a talk by Lilian Jackman of Wilder Hill Gardens and she talked about cutting those branches down. Her business included making flower arrangements so she knew how to make her plants, including shrubs, give her the most flowers.

Angel’ Blush hydrangea in early spring

Angel’s Blush can grow 8-12 feet high and 6-10 feet wide. We are not that large yet. This is a closeup of the lower half of Angel’s Blush. I started to take out a very few large stems, as well as crowded small branches so the shrub isn’t just a thicket. I am also cutting back the high branches which should increase the flowers. These paniculata hydrangeas need their pruning done in the spring.

Before and after photos do not work very well, but the three hydrangeas are done. Some of the larger stems  have been removed, and the flower-bearing branches have been cut back.

Angel’s Blush hydrangea has large and looser blossoms

Limelight hydrangea 2020

Limelight is supposed to become more and more  a shade of green – but in addition to its pale lime color I think it kissed the Angel’s Blush. I enjoy watching the shades of these wonderful shrubs as they change with the seasons.

We were sitting out in the garden yesterday and by chance I was sitting just where I could look at our very tall viburnum. I was not alone, but when our son left I asked my husband if he would do some major pruning. I won’t say he lept to the  opportunity, but he did get the saw and the loppers and set to. In this case he took three relatively large stems out at the bottom. Then he attacked crossing branches and when it was cleared I was able to do some of  the minor trimming.

Big pruning tasks make a great difference in appearance individually and in the look of the garden. I’m lucky to have a man with a saw and loppers always at the ready.

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