Monthly Archives: March 2018

  1. How to Prune Hydrangeas

    It is important to know what kind of Hydrangea you have before you do any pruning. The reason it is important to know so that you are not cutting off any flower buds, really the reason for growing Hydrangeas!

    It is probably easiest to break down the types of Hydrangeas and suggest pruning for each of the different types. Each group of Hydrangea includes some of the selections available from Nature Hills. 

    Hardy, Panicle type Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata selections)

    These are woody type, hardy Hydrangeas that love the sun and are very forgiving needing little care.  You can’t change the color of this group to blue, but they offer quite the show opening white, and age to pink or red before turning brown in fall and winter.

    Pruning for Hydrangea paniculata shrub form and tree form should be done in early spring before new growth begins to grow. The best pruning method is to shorten up the length of last year’s stems by about 1/3 (which will remove the old dried flower from last year too). Leave the pruned shrub as an informal, irregular and somewhat rounded form. The same thing for the Tree Form plants too leaving a rounded outline on the stick. No more pruning is needed after the early spring prune. A simple, easy and certainly rewarding group of Hydrangeas that every landscape should include. 

    Some of the selections of Hydrangea paniculata selections include:  Fire Light, Fire and Ice, Diamond Rouge, Quick Fire, Little Lamb, Phantom, Vanilla Strawberry, Pinky Winky, Limelight, Strawberry Sundae, Little Quick Fire, Bobo, Little Lime, Silver Dollar, and Zinfin Doll.  

    Oakleaf Hydrangeas

    These woody Hydrangeas produce flower buds on last year’s stems so DO NOT SPRING PRUNE THIS GROUP!  Oakleaf Hydrangeas will not flower if you spring prune the tips of the branches.  Light pruning to shorten branches as soon as they are done blooming can be done.  You can also remove the largest, fattest branches right down to the ground to allow new shoots to grow from the ground keeping the plant blooming wildly on those new shoots. Here are some selections that Nature Hills grows:  Gatsby Gal, Gatsby Pink, and Ellen Huff.

    Smooth Hydrangeas

    Smooth Hydrangeas, or Hydrangea arborescens type are super hardy and easy to care for.  You should prune these Hydrangeas by cutting all of the stems right down to the ground early spring each year before they start to grow.  Smooth Hydrangeas make incredible new flowers on shoots that come from the ground each year.  Some gardeners like to leave a foot or so of last years stems to help support the new shoots as they begin to grow but that is up to you.  Super easy, non-invasive shrubs that you simply cut off each spring and sit back and enjoy the show.  Many of the newer selections are reblooming.

    Here are some selections of Hydrangea arborescens that Nature Hills grows and sells:  Annabelle, Invincibelle Spirit and all the Invincibelle Spirit series, Incrediball, Smooth or Snowhill (H. arborescens ‘Grandiflora’), Ryan Gainey, Invincibelle Wee White, Invincibelle Ruby, Samantha, Incrediball Blush, and Invincibelle Limetta.

    Bigleaf Hydrangea

    Bigleaf Hydrangeas are the ones that mostly have pink and blue or lavender colored blooms.  Many of the selections in this huge group of Hydrangeas bloom on last years stems so DO NOT PRUNE IN FALL, WINTER OR SPRING, just wait until they bloom.  Pruning for Bigleaf Hydrangeas is best done right after they bloom.  In colder areas, there may be some winter damage so wait until the plants just start to grow and remove the dead tips and the old flower heads and let the live portion of the stems in place.

    Here is a list of Hydrangea macrophylla types (including Hydrangea serrata selections that are treated the same) in which you can change the flower color in acid soils:  Endless summer, Grateful Red, Big Daddy, Twist and Shout, Blushing Bride, Grateful Red, Cherry Explosion, Edgy Hearts, Nantucket Blue, Next Generation Pistachio, Nikko Blue, Endless Summer Bloomstruck, Edgy Hearts, Cityline Vienna, Tilt-A-Swirl, Cityline Mars, Tuff Stuff, Tiny Tuff Stuff, Tuff Stuff Red Mountain, Tilt-A-Swirl, Let’s Dance Starlight, Everlasting Garnet, Everlasting Noblesse, Everlasting Revolution, Everlasting Jade, Wedding Gown, Let's Dance Starlight & Moonlight, Tuff Stuff Mountain, Tuff Stuff Red Mountain, Abracadabra, LA Dreamin, Cityline Paris, Vienna, Venice & Rio, Everlasting Jade, Everlasting Garnet, Everlasting Ocean, Abracadabra Star, Everlasting Harmony, and Miss Saori. 

    Nature Hills selections of Hydrangeas continues to evolve always adding new selections with more flowers, smaller plants, and reblooming capabilities – all the things that keep bringing Hydrangeas into the limelight. Check out our selections and buy yours now so you too can upgrade your landscape! 

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  2. How to Prune Hydrangea Paniculata Tree Form

    Nature Hills sells several different single stem tree form Hydrangea paniculata types. They are all hardy and easy to grow, but each spring it is best if you spend ten minutes pruning them before they start to grow.

    It is best to remove about 1/3 of the length of each of the stems leaving a somewhat irregular “ball on a stick.” Pruning should be done before the new growth starts each spring.

    The photo shows a young plant that is only a couple of years in the ground and how it should look once you are done pruning it.

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  3. Pruning Woody Hydrangea Paniculata Type Shrubs

    Now is the time to prune your woody, sun-loving panicle type Hydrangeas (like Limelight, Quickfire, Diamond Rouge Little Lamb, Pinky Winky, Fire Light, Little Lime, Strawberry Sundae, Vanilla Strawberry and any other species in this group).

    The best rule of thumb is to cut back these woody plants by reducing about 1/3 of the length of last year’s growth, removing the brown flower heads that remain on the plant. 

    Leave the overall shape somewhat rounded and the stems somewhat irregular for a more natural form as the new growth emerges.

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  4. Time to Trim Ornamental Grasses

    Ornamental grasses start to grow as the weather warms. 

    You have enjoyed the movement of the dormant tan and brown leaves all winter long, but now it is time to get rid of last year’s leaves as the new growth begins at the roots. You can tie the old leaves together and then take your shears and trim off the stems down to about six inches or so 

    Warm season grasses take much longer before you will see new growth, and cool season grasses will start showing signs of new blades of grass emerging as soon as the weather warms.

    Just like your lawn, early spring is a great time to cut off the old dry brown blades of grass to make room for all new green growth from the roots.

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  5. Early Spring Pruning Tips For Best Flowering

    Spring has sprung in the more southern areas and from the coasts, and will be working its way north.

    Upon your first spin around your yard in spring you will tend to take your pruning shears with you. There are many plants that will appreciate some necessary pruning, and there are some plants that you should not prune at this time of the year.

    Let’s cover some plants that are best NOT pruned in early spring. Basically, any early spring flowering shrub or tree should not be pruned because you will be removing the flower display – really the whole reason to grow those plants.

    Azaleas and Rhododendrons are a prime example of a plant that should not be pruned now. All of the flower buds are in the tips of each of the branches just waiting for the temperature to warm enough to get those buds moving. Many of the varieties and selections under the Rhododendron umbrella form the flower buds last summer where they remain dormant and hidden away until the spring temperatures allow this Genus of plants to bust out with incredible flower displays. Pruning is best done right after the flowers begin to fade. Many people don’t thing pruning Azaleas and Rhododendrons is necessary, but they do respond beautifully to pruning to maintain good uniformity and more compact plants. Even the reblooming and everblooming Rhododendrons are best pruned after the first spring bloom.

    Flowering Quince is another early spring blooming shrub that should not be pruned now. There are many new selections of Quince that have been introduced in the more recent years. Flowering Quince has beautiful orange, red, salmon, pink, white and many of the new ones are very double. With Quince too, the best time to prune all varieties is right after they flower so sit back and enjoy the flowers before you do any pruning on any of them too. 

    Forsythia is another shrub that is an early spring blooming shrub that can have flowers for almost a month before the leaves even emerge! There has been a lot of new selections that have been introduced that stay smaller and produce flowers all along the stems. Forsythia branches can be cut and forced indoors in a vase of water. As soon as the flowers fade, that is the best time to prune Forsythia. Maybe you have an older overgrown forsythia shrub? As soon as the flowers are done blooming you can cut all of the stem to the ground without sacrificing any bloom for next year too. If it is not that overgrown you can just remove the oldest stems out to the ground and leave the thinner, younger stems to allow the plant to keep its more natural form.

    Lilacs (both tree form and shrub form) is another broad group encompassing many different species, hybrids and cultivars. Nature Hills offers early blooming, mid-season, and even Canadian selections that bloom very late spring. With all Lilacs, do not trim them now. Lilac plants make their flowers in the growth that follows after the blooms are done. So, with each Lilac, wait until the flowers are done blooming - and then prune. With lilac shrubs, renewal pruning by removing the oldest stems out to the ground leaving the younger stems in place. For re-blooming varieties it is best to also renewal prune them right after the first set of flowers for super results.

    Weigela shrubs have had a lot of breeding done for smaller size, amazing leaf color and lots of bloom. Although Weigela are very floriferous, the best flowers are born on last year’s stems. It is important to let the late spring blooms come before you do pruning on them. After the flowers finish, then you can prune any stems that need shortening or some of the older stems can be removed right down to the ground. The beauty of most selections of Weigela is they bloom heavily in late spring, and again later in summer.

    It is best to make a note on the best time to prune some of your favorite flowering shrubs so that you are not sacrificing the blooms. Next time, we can tackle that huge number of Hydrangea types to help you see the best bloom.

    An early happy spring from your friends at Nature Hills!



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