Tips for pruning climbing hydrangea

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Certain plants can add a romantic and cozy cottage feel to the garden, such as climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp petiolaris, zones 4-9) can. Whether it’s covering a semi-shaded east-facing wall (an ideal spot), cascading over a stone wall, or wrapping the trunk of a large, deciduous tree, climbing hydrangea can be a valuable asset. Lush green plants and white colors abound. , a lacy umbel of flowers in early summer. Like many late spring and early summer flowering plants, climbing hydrangea is best pruned shortly after blooming in late June so that the new growth will produce next year’s flower buds by late summer. can create However, cutting immediately after blooming is not always practical because, like most vines, climbing hydrangea is a vigorous plant once established, and it can be difficult to see the overall structure of the plant with all its leaves. . Some selective pruning may need to be done almost any month of the year, and that’s perfectly fine. But if you prune anytime from fall to spring, you may sacrifice some flowers.

If you hard prune in early spring, you can prune for a neater, tighter habit with fewer flowers. Or you can learn to accept (or tolerate) the unruly, out-of-control but more relaxed appearance of climbing hydrangea in bloom if you prune hard soon after flowering.

Pruning climbing hydrangea
Pruning climbing hydrangea in early spring allows you to get a better look at the plant’s inner stems.

Pruning for cleanliness and overall texture

In its ideal growing conditions—dappled shade, moist soil, and some protection from strong winds—climbing hydrangea can add several feet of growth in a single season. To keep plants under control, many gardeners find that selective training is often needed during the growing season. But it’s when there aren’t any plants in the plant — fall, winter, or ideally, early spring — when you can really get in there and make a big difference by pruning.

If you want to prune your climbing hydrangea in early spring, before the first leaves appear, cut back hard to remove long, unwanted growth that may be overhanging windows or nearby walkways. spread far and wide. Thankfully, this is a plant that can handle severe cutbacks, which should be done every two years to maintain growth. Remember, you are dealing with a log of wood.

Some touch-up pruning can be done just as the first leaves appear, as it is sometimes difficult to gauge how far back one should cut. It’s one thing to keep a plant tidy, but the first flush of new green growth can be surprisingly abundant, and new branches start to grow inches overnight over stairs or railings in just a week or two. This new growth can be pruned as needed during the spring.

Close up of white climbing hydrangea flower
Climbing hydrangeas have delicate off-white lace cap flowers that bloom in early summer.

Prune to maintain an impressive flower display

While the foliage effect is the main reason most people grow climbing hydrangeas, the flowers are a bonus. If you’re finding that your plant has few or no flowers, know that it forms flower buds on last year’s growth. So heavy pruning in the spring will compromise any flowering in the coming season. If you train your vine up a tree trunk, you’ll find that most of the flowers are near the top of the plant. If you’re growing your hydrangea over a fence or against a wall, you’ll want the flowers to form along the entire plant. To achieve this, limit your heaviest pruning to after flowering, usually in July.

When I prune my climbing hydrangeas I like to keep both structure and flowers in mind. I prune as needed throughout the year, but I’m always conscious of potential blooming stems that matured last summer.

For more tips on pruning hydrangeas, click here.

And for Northeast regional reports, click here.

Matt Mattis is the author of two books: Mastering the art of flower gardening And Mastering the art of vegetable gardening. He farms in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Photos, unless otherwise noted: Mate Mates

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