When to cut back hydrangeas

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Hydrangeas are a type of flowering plant that can grow up to three metres tall in full bloom. You might notice that your hydrangeas start to develop new buds at the end of February, ready for the summer. When should you cut back your hydrangeas?

There are between 70 and 75 different species of hydrangeas, found from the Americas all the way to Asia.

Its name comes from the Greek for ‘water vessel’, owing to its unusual seed capsule shape.

Your hydrangeas may start to flower in the early spring, and they should last until the late autumn.

With the growing seas just weeks away now, it may be time to reach for the secateurs.

When to cut back hydrangeas

The best time to start pruning your hydrangeas is in the early spring – ahead of the growing season – and in the late winter.

Spring officially starts on March 20 in the UK, meaning you still have a few weeks before having to spruce up your shrubs.

If you have climbing hydrangeas, you can leave the pruning for later in the summer, after they start to flower.

Dead-heading your hydrangeas can play an integral role to the health of your shrub.

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It’s crucial to dead-head your hydrangea at the right time of the year.

Leaving it too late in the year – or starting too early – can result in smaller flower heads.

You can leave the dead heads on your hydrangeas throughout the winter, as they’ll provide some frost protection for the new growths below.

Remove the old flower heads in early spring, cutting back the stem right the first, strong healthy buds.

The Royal Horticultural Society said: “Cut out one or two of the oldest stems at the base to encourage the production of new, replacement growth that will be more floriferous.

“Poor or neglected plants can be entirely renovated by cutting off all the stems at the base.

“However, this will remove all the flowers for that summer, and the new stems will not bloom until the following year.

“The climbing hydrangea should have overlong shoots cut back immediately after flowering.”

If you notice that your hydrangeas have any frost damage from the winter, you can prune them back beyond the damaged shoots.

Get rid of any weak or straggly stems, too. That includes stems that appear to trail on the ground.

If everything goes to plan, you should start to notice your hydrangeas flowering from mid to late summer.

Regularly pruning throughout the season will cater for the best, most colourful flower display.

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