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Absolutely, these questions are on the minds of gardeners every fall, and rightfully so. The way you tend to your hydrangeas before winter sets in has a crucial impact on their ability to thrive and bloom in the upcoming season. It’s a factor that holds more significance than one might initially think!
The Importance Of Proper Fall Care – What To Do With Hydrangeas Before Winter
You’re absolutely right. When hydrangeas don’t bloom during a growing season, the root of the issue can almost always be traced back to fall care. And it’s not just a matter of neglect, but sometimes it can also result from excessive attention. Indeed, how you go about mulching, watering, and fertilizing will significantly influence the plant’s success. However, it’s the pruning that often becomes the decisive factor.
While fall pruning is a customary practice for a majority of perennials, for many types of hydrangeas, it can lead to a complete loss of future blooms. The same goes for over-fertilizing or neglecting to keep the bush well-watered.
This is precisely why, before embarking on any fall maintenance for your hydrangeas, the first crucial step towards success is identifying the specific type of hydrangea you’re growing. Once you have that information, you can take the appropriate measures to prepare your bush not just for winter, but for an even more abundant blooming in the following year!
Fall Hydrangea Care 101
How To Know What Type Of Hydrangea You Have
When it comes to hydrangeas, they can be broadly categorized based on their bloom cycles. One group blooms in early to mid-summer, while the other group blooms in late summer to early fall. This distinction is crucial when it comes to fall maintenance, as the two groups require different care. That’s why it’s vital to know which type of hydrangea you have!
Summer-blooming hydrangeas encompass varieties like Bigleaf and Oakleaf Hydrangeas. Bigleaf varieties are known for their large mophead blooms, which can absolutely dazzle in early summer, enveloping the bush in a burst of color.
Oakleaf varieties also bloom in summer and can start as early as June. While their flowers may not be as showy, the clusters of blossoms on cone-shaped blooms still offer a charming floral display throughout the summer.
Late summer and early fall blooming varieties include Panicle and Smooth hydrangeas. Panicle hydrangeas produce cone-shaped flowers and start flowering late in the summer. As autumn arrives, their blooms transform into stunning deep hues as they dry.
Smooth varieties, sometimes referred to as wild hydrangeas, are characterized by their larger, rounded blooms. They start blooming in late summer and continue to age gracefully, maintaining their beauty all the way into late fall. Their enduring charm makes them a wonderful addition to late-season gardens.
To Prune Or Not To Prune – Fall Hydrangea Care
Knowing the specific type of hydrangea you have is crucial because pruning at the wrong time can potentially lead to the removal of the next set of blooms. Each type has its own unique bloom cycle, and understanding this cycle is essential for successful and abundant blooming in the following season.
Fall Care For Summer Blooming Hydrangeas – Fall Hydrangea Care
Summer-blooming hydrangeas produce flowers on old wood, which refers to the growth that occurs on the plant after it finishes blooming in the summer. Understanding this is crucial for fall care, as pruning these hydrangeas in the fall means removing potential blooms for the following year.
The ideal time to prune summer-blooming hydrangeas is right after they finish flowering. This allows the plant to grow new wood for the next season’s flowers. If this opportunity is missed, it’s best to wait until the following year for any major pruning.
Although pruning is not recommended for summer-blooming hydrangeas in the fall, deadheading the spent flowers before winter can be beneficial. Deadheading involves removing the aged blooms from the plant. For summer-blooming hydrangeas, this helps the plant conserve energy for the winter and for the next year’s bloom cycle.
By deadheading the faded blooms, the plant can redirect its resources toward storing energy in its roots. If the old blooms are left on the plant, the bush will continue to invest energy in the development of seeds, instead of using them for next year’s blooms.
When deadheading summer-blooming hydrangeas, it’s important to only remove the bloom itself, leaving the rest of the growth intact. This growth likely holds the potential to bloom for the next year. Simply snip off the stem right below the flower head.
Fall Care For Fall Blooming Hydrangeas – What To Do With Hydrangeas Before Winter!
Late summer and fall blooming hydrangeas have a different blooming pattern. They flower on new wood, which refers to the growth that occurs on the bush during the same season. Specifically, it is the growth that emerges from spring until the plant blooms in late summer or early fall. This distinction is important for understanding how to care for these hydrangeas during fall.
Late summer and early fall blooming hydrangeas bloom on new wood. This means they can be pruned back in the fall or early winter without risking the removal of potential blooms for the following year. This is a key distinction in their care compared to summer-blooming varieties.
You’ve got it exactly right! For late summer and fall blooming hydrangeas, both fall deadheading and pruning for shape are vital. Fall pruning not only removes spent flowers, conserving the plant’s energy but also allows for the adjustment of size and the trimming of overgrown branches, all without compromising next year’s blooming cycle.
No matter which variety of hydrangea you’re tending to, removing faded blooms before winter sets in is one of the most impactful steps you can take to support the plant’s health and vigor. This advice holds true for all hydrangea varieties!