Marianne's Response

Rescue prune a hydrangea


my 10+ year old Niko blue was “snowball” pruned a couple of years ago so is badly out of shape. The heavy rains we had early this summer beat it down and it has not come back up. I know about taking 1/3 per year for regular pruning, but is there something different I should do to give this poor plant the strength to stand back upright? it’s been a beautiful shrub for so many years! thank you for your time – I have enjoyed your lectures at Molbaks for many years.

Posted by Pat Hergert on August 21, 2019

Marianne's Response

Thanks for coming to my talks! To improve the shrub this summer the only answer is to prop up those branches with supports from a Y shaped branch or metal plant supports. Then make this the year you harvest all the blooms by following the flowering branch all the way into the shrub and making the cut a few feet from the ground. Then you can cut that long branch closer to the bloom to use indoors or to dry the flowers for a wreath. If you shorten all the branches that flowered this summer you will still get blooms next year - especially on those branches that did not bloom. You can also use the cut blooms to poke into you summer weary baskets and pots to give them the look of instant hydrangea pots. Sometimes the blooms just dry when stuck into potting soil so you will have weeks of color. Do not overfeed hydrangeas as this makes for long and lanky stems. I use just one application of Osmocote in May around each shrub. Protection from hot afternoon sun and a wood chip mulch to seal in moisture are also ways to pamper your hydrangeas. I think you will be rewarded with a happier looking shrub next summer. Keep growing, Marianne Binetti