***See updated post on this here: How to Prune a Hydrangea Tree 2016
Happy May Day!!
I love to garden… well lately it’s more like: I love gardens… ha ha! Ever since moving, we drastically cut down on our gardening chores. Yay! More time to enjoy the beach. But we do still garden a bit, so in celebration of May Day, I’m going to give you a few tips that we’ve learned on how to prune a PeeGee Hydrangea. (or a Paniculata Hydrangea)
I’m not an expert gardener, I, like how my dad used to describe himself, am a ‘jack of all trades, and a king of none’… I know a lot, well… a little about a lot of things. 😉 But here are some things I know about the hydrangea tree we inherited when we moved into this 100 year old house…
The only variety of hydrangeas that can be made into tree form are Paniculata hydrangeas. PeeGee hydrangeas are in the Paniculata family, so to speak. I don’t know enough to tell one type of Paniculata from the other, (or how to actually pronounce ‘Paniculata’) but I do know that the flower shape on them is more of a cone shape, unlike other varieties of hydrangea which are mophead or ball shape.
We for sure have a Paniculata hydrangea. 1. It is a tree shape and 2. the flowers are very cone shaped.
Here’s a close up of the flower from last summer:
Gorgeous, isn’t it?
When we first bought this house, a couple years ago, the landscaping had been so abused, that we weren’t even sure if this hydrangea tree would be worth saving.
The previous ‘lawn care’ people did a horrible job… it was obvious how every single tree was hit with lawnmower and weed wacker over and over again! This hydrangea tree was no exception. Everything that was close to the edge, where the lawnmower could get to it, was so beat-up, it was eventually killed by the abuse, leaving only the back branch still alive.
But we pruned it up early last spring, according to our new found knowledge for PeeGee hydrangeas and it did beautifully last summer. Here is a comparison:
Here are the very basic rules to pruning that I have found always apply to every pruning job I’ve ever done:
Once you apply these basic rules, depending on the particular type of tree or bush you’re pruning, there may be a few fine tune rules to apply… such as with apple trees, cutting off the upward branches or suckers, or like with these hydrangeas, make the actual cut on the branch just after the first bud, (I’ll explain that better a little further down)
Then the biggest question is when to prune.
For instance, lilacs need to be pruned as soon as they are done flowering, because next year’s blooms will be formed on the branches that are growing this year.
But with PeeGee or Paniculata hydrangeas, there is a lot of freedom for when to prune. The reason is because the flowers form in the summer right before they bloom. I think the best time to prune them is in the early spring though, because you really want to be able to see the buds to know where to snip. And once the hydrangea starts growing in the spring/summer the energy won’t be wasted on branches that you will be cutting off. In other words, if you haven’t already… it’s time to prune your PeeGee hydrangea!
I’ll give you a quick run down of pruning our PeeGee hydrangea.
This is what it looked like this spring, after a long winter. Keep in mind that we already did the major shaping last spring…
With a bin to collect the dead flowers and unwanted branches, a ladder and a clean, sharp pair of pruners, we set to work. My husband on the ladder with the pruners, me on the ground with a cut branch, pointing to him which and where to cut, as I had the better vantage point for maintaining the shape of the tree form from the yard.
It can seem like a daunting task…
with branches everywhere…
but I find it best to just start cleaning it up, applying the basic rules…
Is it crossing over? Cut it out.
Is it a small weak branch? Cut it off.
How do I want the shape of the tree to be? Cut it accordingly.
And before you know it, you’re getting to a point of ‘cleaning’ the branches out that it is making sense and looking a bit less like a bad hair day and more like…
well, I’d love to say a lovely tree formed shrub, but it does look a bit barren right now, doesn’t it?
But have no fear… It will come back and be lovely! There is a lot of grace in pruning a PeeGee hydrangea… They really want to live, and by pruning it, the energy they have to live will be even more concentrated on what you left them to put it into.
When you’re pruning the old branches off of a PeeGee, snip it above the little bump, that is the ‘bud’ on the branch, and this is where the new growth and new branch will sprout out. If you left the entire branch without pruning it shorther, the entire branch would sprout branches on all the bud bumps… which is too many, and would result in them all being weak, with small flowers.
See all those short stubby branches? See how we cut after the first little group of buds? That’s where the new growth will come from. It will grow sweeping branches with big flowers at the ends of them. I’ll try to get a couple of good pictures and update you on Facebook, showing the growing process of this PeeGee Hydrangea.
Now go get pruning, and remember the basic rules…
I appreciate you stopping by.
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