Pruning is a daunting task, especially when your shrub is very, very large. Brandon, Ashcombe’s Nursery Manager, walks you through the best practices for pruning a Panicle Hydrangea. These tips may not work for other kinds of Hydrangea, please be aware of which plant you’re working with before following these tutorial.
In this post, Brandon is working specifically with a Limelight Panicle Hydrangea which starts white then ages to a nice soft pink by the end of the season. There are many other varieties of this type of Hydrangea including Bobo, Quickfire, and Little Quickfire. Panicle Hydrangeas, regardless of variety, can all be pruned at the same time because they will bloom on new wood. You can prune in the Fall, Winter, or Spring to get blooms for the following Summer. These varieties can all be pruned the same way with the following steps and tips in mind.
The Right Tools for the Job!
Hand Pruners and Loppers are the go-to tools for this job. Having both on hand will make the pruning process easier. You have to be sure the tools are clean. Dirty tools can transfer existing diseases from one plant to another. Brandon suggests using rubbing alcohol to clean. Either dip your tools in the rubbing alcohol or use a towel soaked in the alcohol to rub down the blades. Sharpen your tools before use. Hand pruners are best for smaller cuts near the top of the shrub, loppers will be used later when you get down to the bottom.
Why are you Pruning?
The reason why you are pruning dictates how you do it. For this particular pruning project, Brandon is sizing down the shrub which has grown too big for the spot it’s in. When pruning you need to be aware there will be 4ft of growth in the next season from where you’ve pruned. Brandon’s plan for this plant is to make it smaller, with less blooms, but larger blooms.
Where to Cut.
Using your pruning shears, choose where you will prune. Where you prune will determine how much growth you will see in the next growth season. Always cut above a bud set to ensure growth in the next season. For this shrub, Brandon will take it down to the bud sets about a foot of the ground to make the shrub smaller and promote less, but larger blooms.
The higher up the shrub you cut, the more blooms you will see in the growth period, but the blooms will be smaller. To promote more and smaller blooms you can also deadhead the plant right at the next bud set on each branch. Simply cut off the flowered bloom to reshape the shrub and allow for abundant, smaller blooms.
By pruning the shrub down to about a foot off the ground, Brandon is able to control the size and amount of blooms for this plant.
For more gardening tips, see our Gardening Guides. Check out the video below to hear and see Brandon walk you through pruning your panicle hydrangea.