How to grow deadhead hydrangea

How to grow deadhead hydrangea

Hydrangeas provide the most beautiful and longest-lasting flowers for your garden. This makes it difficult for many gardeners to decide when or how to deadhead their hydrangea bushes to help keep their hydrangeas looking great all year long.

The interesting thing? If you're looking to promote more hydrangeas, deadheading is not the answer. “De-heading your hydrangea is preparing it for next year,” says Kate Singleton, design director at online landscaping company Tilly. “You won't get extra flowers in the same year.”

Here's everything you need to know about when and how to deadhead your hydrangeas to help your shrubs thrive.

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When to reach Deadhead Hydrangea

Since hydrangea flowers can bloom and change color for literally months, getting rid of your hydrangea tends to be a one-time thing. “In temperate climates, deadheading hydrangeas will allow the plant to stop expending energy producing seeds and instead will promote foliage growth,” says Singleton. “In cooler climates, just deadhead in the spring to allow spent flowers to protect the following year’s buds from frost.”

For mop-headed hydrangeas, spring is the best time to deadhead your hydrangeas, while mop-headed hydrangeas can be deadheaded at the end of summer, when the flowers die, Singleton says.

But keep in mind that deadheading is not necessary for the health of your hydrangea plant. “In hydrangeas, this is not a critical gardening task, and plants that are not deadheaded do not show a severe decline in flowering or growth in the following years,” says Jennifer Foster, plant expert at Fast Growing Trees. “Many gardeners will leave faded flower heads on plants for winter interest, while others prefer to kill the flowers, or remove them when they begin to fade, turn brown, or begin to appear ragged.”

Due to climate change, areas that were previously considered cold may now become more temperate — and vice versa — so that may influence when you decide to die, Singleton says. “You may need to change your pruning season to accommodate current weather patterns.”

How to grow deadhead hydrangea

Deadheading does not equal pruning, so you're just looking to remove the flower, not cut the stems, Foster says. “Always cut to a point just above the set of leaves to keep the plant tidy and give it the best chance of resisting pests and diseases at the cut site. Use sharp, clean shears and cut at an angle.” Make sure your pruning shears and gardening tools are clean to ensure that diseases do not spread to your hydrangea bush.

When you cut a hydrangea, it's important to know what type of hydrangea you're dealing with, how much you're cutting and when it might be affected.

Deadheading Bigleaf, Mountain, Oakleaf, or Climbing Hydrangea

If your hydrangea is the type that blooms on old wood, such as oak-leaf or bigleaf varieties, buds will begin to form in the old wood in late summer or during the winter, Foster says, so you have to be very careful not to cut too much. To avoid damaging future flowers. These hydrangeas don't bloom too much at all.

Deadly panicle and downy hydrangea

Hydrangeas and smoothheaded hydrangeas thrive on new growth, so deadheading can be more extensive. “You can cut with longer stems without reducing the potential for flower numbers the following year,” says Foster. “These plants form flower buds on the growth that appears in the spring. Many gardeners will prune them back by up to a third in late fall or early spring to keep the new growth and the flowers that come with it closer to viewing level.”

Deadheading Cascade Hydrangea

Be especially careful when cutting cascading hydrangeas. “Cascading hydrangeas thrive on new and old growth and should be deadheaded only to the first set of leaves to allow the plant to produce the greatest number of flowers during the next bloom,” says Foster.

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