By now I imagine most hydrangea lovers are familiar with ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas, more officially named Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bailmer’. They are the blue or pink mophead, large leafed hydrangeas that are “ever blooming”. The main difference between this hydrangea from other mophead hydrangeas is that the ‘Endless Summer’ blooms not only on old wood but on new wood. This makes for much different (and easier) pruning needs! Alas!
The question I seem to be consistently asked is when and how to prune hydrangeas. The answer is… “It depends…” Frustrating, I know. But, really it depends on several factors. First, what type of hydrangea do you have and if it is of the large leafed variety, is it an Endless Summer?
For the sake of brevity, I will focus on the pruning of Endless Summer hydrangeas. However, if I receive requests for techniques on pruning other hydrangea types, I will be happy to answer!
Now, for advice on Endless Summer hydrangea pruning… In actuality, these plants are extremely low maintenance compared to other hydrangea types. There isn’t really a “bad” time to prune these. As a matter of fact, young ones don’t need any pruning at all. It’s really best to leave them alone and let them grow to maturity.
Deadheading, whether a younger or older plant, is always a good idea and practice because it encourages new blooms. When deadheading, use sharp, clean hand pruners to cut off the dead flowers. Cut the stem just above the first set of leaves beneath the spent flower at approximately a thirty degree angle. Use this technique throughout the growing season to maximize the number of blooms on your Endless Summer hydrangea.
When pruning your Endless Summer hydrangea in the Spring, do not prune the “dead” stems down to the ground until all the new leaves have pushed through and are totally enlarged to full size.
In the Fall, I like to leave my spent blooms on the plant to give some Winter interest to the landscape. They also give the added benefit of insulating the new buds for next season. However, once Spring arrives, make sure to cut down these blooms before the new growth starts.
Other than deadheading of your Endless Summer, there really should be very little to prune of your plant unless you encounter a dead limb here or there which can and should be pruned at any time. This plant is one of my favorite landscape plants to use for my clients because of its easy care and ever blooming qualities.
One last thing to remember, if you want your hydrangea flowers pink, you want your soil more alkaline, but if you want blue flowers, you want your soil more acid!