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Shrubs like hydrangeas flower from mid to late summer on the previous year's growth. Mophead and lacecap hydrangeas will bloom satisfactorily with little attention, but regular pruning encourages new, vigorous growth that can produce a better display. Likewise, other species, including the climbing hydrangea, will benefit from a trim. Such plants fall into RHS Pruning group 4.
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'. Credit: RHS/Advisory.
The pruning methods explained below are for individual types and species of hydrangea.
The most commonly grown hydrangeas in gardens are lacecaps and mopheads – mopheads are identified by their full, roundish heads of large petals; lacecaps have tiny flowers in the centre of the bloom and an outer border of large petals.
Most pruning is carried out in late winter or early spring. However, the climbing hydrangea is pruned after flowering in summer.
Lacecaps are hardier, and the faded flowerheads can be cut back after flowering to the second pair of leaves below the head in order to prevent seed developing, which saps energy from the plant
HydrangeasHydrangea scaleHydrangea collection at Holehird GardensRHS Pruning groupsShrubsShrubs and trees: light pruningShrubs: pruning early floweringShrubs: pruning summer-floweringShrubs: pruning evergreensShrubs: renovationTrees and shrubs: planting
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