What You Need To Know About Deadheading Your Hydrangeas

Deadheading refers to the process of removing faded or wilted flowers from plants. This simple task has several advantages. It prevents the plant from diverting its energy towards producing seeds, allowing it to allocate resources towards new growth and flower production instead. As a result, deadheading promotes an extended blooming period, ensuring that your plants stay in full bloom for longer periods.

Deadheading hydrangeas is a beneficial practice that can enhance the health and appearance of these beautiful flowering plants. By removing spent blooms, you not only promote continuous blooming throughout the season but also encourage the production of new growth and more vibrant flowers.

Additionally, deadheading can help maintain a neat and tidy appearance in your garden or landscape. By removing faded blooms promptly, you prevent the plant from appearing unkempt or messy. This is particularly important for certain hydrangea varieties that have large flower heads which may become unsightly as they age.

Another reason for deadheading is it can enhance the overall health of your hydrangeas by reducing the risk of diseases and pest infestations. Faded flowers often become breeding grounds for pests or pathogens, so eliminating them regularly will assist in minimizing potential risks to your plants' well-being.

It's worth noting that not all hydrangea varieties require regular deadheading. Some varieties produce flowers on old wood while others bloom on new wood each year. Understanding the specific blooming habits of your particular hydrangea variety is important to determine if deadheading is necessary and when it should be done.

If you are having problems with your hydrangeas not blooming, learn more from this blog post.

When Do You Deadhead Your Hydrangeas

For mophead (Hydrangea macrophylla) and lacecap (Hydrangea macrophylla normalis) hydrangeas, which are among the most popular varieties, it is recommended to deadhead them as soon as the flowers begin to fade or turn brown. This usually occurs in late summer or early fall. By promptly removing these faded blooms, you allow the plant to direct its energy toward new growth rather than seed production.

On the other hand, if you have panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) or smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens), deadheading is not necessary for continuous blooming. These types produce flowers on new growth, so even if you leave faded blooms on the plant, they will still bloom again in the following season.

It's important to note that some gardeners prefer leaving dried flower heads on their hydrangeas during winter months for added visual interest or frost protection. If your goal is to encourage more prolific flowering, regular deadheading is recommended.

Timing is crucial when it comes to deadheading hydrangeas. Deadheading at the wrong time can have negative effects on the plant's ability to bloom and thrive.

Remember if you have a variety that blooms on old wood, such as Bigleaf (macrophylla) or Oakleaf (quercifolia) hydrangeas, deadheading should be done immediately after they finish blooming in late summer or early fall.  On the other hand, if you have a variety that blooms on new wood, such as Panicle (paniculata) or Smooth (arborescens) hydrangeas, deadheading should be done in early spring before new growth begins.

How Do You Deadhead Your Hydrangeas

To deadhead your hydrangea, you will need a pair of sharp pruning shears. This tool allows for clean, precise cuts, which are crucial when deadheading hydrangeas. Look for pruners with a comfortable grip and a cutting capacity suitable for the size of your hydrangea stems. You might also want a pair of gardening gloves. Gloves protect your hands from thorns or potential irritants on the plant. They also provide extra grip when handling stems or removing spent flower heads.

After each snip, wipe your shears with denatured alcohol, so you do not spread any disease to different parts of the plant.

Bigleaf and Oakleaf Hydrangeas

To deadhead Bigleaf and Oakleaf Hydrangeas, begin by identifying the faded or spent blooms. These are typically easy to spot as they will have turned brown or lost their vibrant color. Using clean and sharp pruning shears or scissors, make a clean cut just above the first set of healthy leaves below the faded bloom. These types of hydrangeas do not need to be pruned except to shape the plant and keep it looking nice.

Panicle and Smooth Hydrangeas

You can follow the same instructions for deadheading as the other hydrangeas, but many gardeners do not bother deadheading these hydrangeas. They leave the dried flowers on the plant for fall and winter landscape appeal. Any pruning on these hydrangeas should be done in the early spring.  

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