Watch for buds when cutting hydrangeas

Watch for buds when cutting hydrangeas

June 30th, 2012 Pat Lea in Life Entertainment

Q. My mophead hydrangeas are full of flowers, and I want to cut them for arrangements. Will they bloom again if I remove flowers?

A. Gardeners are reporting beautiful results for their hydrangeas this year. The plants are laden with colorful blooms.

Cutting flowers to use in the house is a form of pruning. Mophead hydrangeas have large heavy blooms, and they do make wonderful bouquets. You have to consider the growth habit of mopheads as you cut your flowers to ensure that you will have blooms next year. Proper "pruning" will enable you to have flowers to cut now and next year also.

Mopheads grow new stems over the summer. Buds are formed at the tips of that new growth, and they will open and produce flowers next year. Right now on your plant, you have blooms from last year as well as shorter leafy stems with no flowers at the tip. Those stems are preparing the buds for next year's flowers. Do not remove them.

If your shrub is full and strong and large and you want to keep it at a certain size, you can prune the flower-bearing stalks down to about a foot or so above the ground. The shrub will grow new stems from that strong base stalk. It will keep your plant at an even height.

After you make the cut, you can trim the flower stem to the size you need for indoors. If you prune by making a short cut, just below the flower, that remaining stem will grow smaller, weaker shoots that will produce smaller flowers next year. So cut low for strong new growth.

Older varieties of hydrangeas, including Nikko Blue, produce one crop of flowers. There is a whole new group of mopheads, including Endless Summer, that will continue to grow new flowers over the summer. If you cut flower heads now, new ones will continue to appear, depending on the health and vigor of the plant.

Be sure to ask at your nursery whether your ever-blooming hydrangea will continue to produce new buds and flowers. You can still prune these the same way as the older varieties.

Your objective with mopheads is to cut to the strong part of a stem so that the shoots that grow out of it are strong enough to support next year's flowers.

This year's crop is spectacular, so enjoy it indoors or in the garden.

Email Pat Lea at lea.pat@gmail.com.