Pruning a newly transplanted hydrangea?

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I moved into a house with a yard containing a very large hydrangea macrophylla that the previous owner relocated to a location near a neighbor's chain link fence because it never bloomed. I don't know whether it was our mild winter, or the fact that I watered, composted and fertilized it, but it bloomed for the first time.

Its backdrop was garbage cans and an old tire. So I just moved it to a new location, planted it with compost, supertriple phosphate and gave it a bit of ironite, and of course some water. I thought immediately of Luis because his response to someone else convinced me that this hydrangea could be moved.

My question - should I remove the spent flowers? There is quite a bit of new growth coming up from the base.

Location before (pic 1)

Location after (pic 2) - apologies - it's a bit blurry. Sweet autumn clematis in the background.Much nicer!

Thank you all for any guidance.


Edited for several flaws and to increase comprehension. Donna! Spell check!

This message was edited Sep 28, 2012 6:47 AM

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

It is my understanding that you can always remove the spent flowers.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Yes, you can remove the spent flowers. I wouldn't do any pruning besides that though if you want blooms again next year.

As far as why it bloomed--it could be happier in its new spot, but given your zone your mild winter definitely could have contributed. Unless it's one of the reblooming cultivars, they bloom on old wood and in zone 5 unless it's protected over the winter some/all of the buds are going to get frozen more years than not. So if you don't mind taking the time to protect it over the winter that'll give you a better chance at a good show of blooms next year.

Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

Hello, Donna. Your shrub looks very nice. You could also leave the spent flowers thru winter, assuming your area does not get tons of snow and the plant will end up buried in it. The spent flowers can also be recycled as mulch or put in the compost pile.... provided the leaves have not had fungal problems. If the leaves have had fungal problems then eh, just dispose of them in the trash.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Thank Arlene, ecrane and Luis for answering my messy email. I went back and fixed all the errors. Yes, I had just come in from the tussle with the hydrangea, but really!

I am thrilled that while I can remove the spent flowers I can also leave them. This hydrangea bloomed with a mix of pink, blue and mauve flowers. I come from alkaline land, where everything was pink. So I assume the soil where it was is close to neutral. I moved it to a spot where I had composted a great deal, so I gave it the ironite to get that multicolor effect again.

It is sensationally healthy. No leaf spot, no problems, despite the fact that it had not been cared for years. A I dug it I could see that it was forming new growth at the base. I have been watering it once a week. Hydrangeas are great, because they let you know when they need water. I was careful to use only a soaker hose to water it, rather than use an overhead sprinkler. I do the same thing with roses.

I plan to protect it over the winter, as I used to do at my previous home. I always used layers of burlap tied with string. I also did this with my oakleaf hydrangeas, to ensure bloom. The last two winters have been mild, and even tender perennials like salvia coccinea lived through the winter. But I don't want to take the chance.

It produced some interesting color variations over the year. I don't have pictures, but toward the end of the season the new flowers were quite pink.

Thank you for helping me care for this prize. I truly appreciate it.


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