Oakleaf hydrangeas are one of the many varieties of hydrangeas. The plant, with its white blooms and foliage like an oak tree, is very popular among gardeners, but many have no idea how or when to prune Oakleaf Hydrangeas.
When you should prune oakleaf hydrangea flowers?
You should prune hydrangeas when the flowers begin to fade. Different varieties of oakleaf hydrangeas flower at different times. When you deadhead clusters of flowers, you make space for new growth.
It is not recommended to deadhead hydrangeas during fall. This is because at this time, the plant starts to prepare for the dormant period, and deadheading the blooms will result in the plant focusing on new growth instead.
It is better if you wait until spring arrives. Keep the old flowers as they are and cut them as spring starts. This will not only help the plant get energy but also result in larger and more flourished blooms next season.
Use sharp, sterilized scissors for pruning the plant. Long and thin scissors will be better, as they will help make more accurate cuts.
Cut the clusters of flowers to the point where they join the stem. Cutting them below this point can damage the buds which will soon become flowers. This will result in fewer blooms for the next season.
When to prune hydrangeas for shape?
The best time to prune hydrangeas for shape is during spring.
This is the time when the plant has just woken from dormancy. Depending on the zone you live in, it is usually during March or April.
Many times, your hydrangea needs to be pruned just to reduce the size of the plant, or give it shape.
Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood. So, pruning at any time can reduce the number of blooms, or the plant might not flower at all.
Spring is the best time to prune the plant because, during the growing season, the plant will heal the wounds caused by pruning in time to recover by next year.
When to cut hydrangeas to ground level?
Some gardeners might want to prune hydrangeas completely to the ground level. The best time to do this is in early spring. Do this procedure before new leaves start to form.
The beginning of March is a good time to cut hydrangeas to ground level. However, you will not get any blooms from your plant during the season. The hydrangea will grow new stems and leaves, but it will grow flowers only next year.
Another favorable time to prune is during the beginning of autumn. However, in this case, the plant will not bloom next season. Do not prune the plant any earlier than early September or any later than late October.
Experienced gardeners usually do not recommend cutting a hydrangea completely to the ground level, but you might need to do it for some reason.
When you do prune it, trim the stems 2 inches above the surface of the ground. This is important because you need to be careful that you do not damage the crown, as it can lead to rotting.
Use a good quality bypass lopper for cutting. Make sure to disinfect the tools before and after use.
When to prune deadwood?
Many times, the branches of the hydrangea can get damaged or broken. This happens throughout the year, and often during winter due to the weight of the snow.
Sometimes, the young stems of the plant can be damaged because of a disease. This usually happens during spring.
In any case, you will need to remove the deadwood to make space for new growth. Not to mention, the plant will not be pleasant to look at with all the deadwood.
You can prune deadwood at any time during the year, except winter.
This is because cutting deadwood will leave wounds, which will heal in almost all seasons. However, during winter, the plant is dormant. Pruning deadwood at this time can lead to the wood rotting as the plant will not help heal it.
When you are pruning deadwood, make cuts at 45-degree angles. By doing so, the water from the wounds will drain out instead of accumulating. This will help prevent wood rot.
Use the appropriate tools for pruning. For larger branches, use a larger tool like a bypass lopper. For smaller branches, use pruning shears.
Sharpen and disinfect the tools before and after using them.
Caring Hydrangea after pruning
Your plant needs to be taken care of even after pruning, and it is just as important as taking care while pruning.
– Using fungicides and pesticides
The first thing to do is to spray your hydrangeas with an aqueous solution of fungicide.
This is done so that the bacteria and spores of fungi cannot enter the plant through the wounds. If that happens, your plant could get sick or even die.
Spray the plant with fungicide several times at intervals throughout the first week. Using different fungicides used for common diseases.
After pruning, you should also spray the plant with a good pesticide or neem oil at least once. This is because the wounds will release juices that can attract pests and insects, who can damage the plants.
The second thing to do is to water your plant properly. Hydrangeas need a lot of water. Hydrangeas also like moist soil. The plant has large leaves, so the water also evaporates faster, turning the leaves yellow.
You need to provide a lot of water to your hydrangeas after pruning. The amount of water the plants needed before pruning would decrease after pruning, but the plant will require moisture for new growth.
Water the plants often and as needed. You might need to water more during the hot and dry seasons. Remember that the soil around the plant should always be moist.
The water should be sufficient for the plant, but not so much that the soil will become waterlogged.
After pruning, the plant needs fertilization in order to restore its strength. Immediately after pruning, use a liquid fertilizer while you water the plant so that it gets a boost to grow.
Another fertilizer you will need to apply is the slow-release fertilizer. You can get a lot of good-quality fertilizers in the market.
For oakleaf hydrangeas, you need a fertilizer with more phosphorous and less nitrogen. This will ensure that you have larger blooms and less foliage.
How to prune oakleaf hydrangeas?
Use sterilized pruning shears to deadhead the blooms of oakleaf hydrangea for keeping the plant looking tidy.
Remove the flowers at the base as they start to fade to pink. If you live in an area that experiences frost, you can leave the flowers on the plant even during winter.
This gives a unique look to the plant as the frost covers the faded flowers.
Pruning oakleaf hydrangeas for shape or size should be done after the plant has finished flowering, as this will ensure that you do not remove wood that would produce flowers next year.
You can start pruning after the flowers have started fading to pink. Cut the stems at the base or just above the outward-facing leaves up to the length you want to get the desired shape and size.
Also, try and remove the stems and branches that disrupt the overall look of the plant.
If you want to remove deadwood, you can do so any time of the year except winter. Also, if you are not completely sure which parts are damaged or dead, it is a good idea until the hydrangea grows leaves so that you can tell.
You can scrape the bark of the plant to check if the stem is alive or dead. If it is alive, the wood under the bark will be green.
Remove the damaged or dead branches and stems. Prune them at the base, or at least 3 to 4 inches into living, healthy wood.
Oakleaf hydrangeas can spread wide, so one solution for controlling that is to pinch off the tips of the shoots.
When new shoots get 4 inches long, you can pinch off one inch of each shoot using your thumb and forefinger. Continue to do so until the plant starts flowering.
Make sure you only remove the shoot tips and not the flowering shoots. The shoot tips are narrow and tapering, while flowering shoots are thick and rounded.
Even after flowering, you can continue pruning the oakleaf hydrangea. This will keep it dense and compact in shape.
Varieties of oakleaf hydrangeas
Some tall varieties of oakleaf hydrangeas include:
Alice: This variety can grow up to 12 feet in height and width. It has large white flowers that fade to a rosy pink and then turn tan in late summer.
Alison: This variety grows 8 to 10 feet tall. This is similar to Alice, but it is broader and the blooms stay more upright. The flowers turn pink as they age and eventually become tan by the end of summer.
Harmony: Harmony grows up to 10 feet tall. It grows very large and dense clusters of double flowers. They are so heavy that sometimes the branches can bend due to the weight of the blooms.
Some medium-sized varieties of oakleaf hydrangeas include
Amethyst: Amethyst grows 6 feet tall and wide. The flowers are white and turn pink as they age.
Snow Queen: This variety also grows 6 feet tall and wide. It is one of the most popular cultivars of oakleaf hydrangea. The blooms on this plant are long-lasting, turning pinkish brown from white.
Snowflake: Snowflake grows 7 feet in length and width and has a long-lasting blooming season. It has long double flowers that stay for a long time.
Some compact varieties of oakleaf hydrangeas are
Little honey: This plant grows 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide. The foliage of this plant is golden yellow during spring, green in summer, and red in fall. The cone-shaped white blooms are 5 to 6 inches long, smaller than most other hydrangea species.
Munchkin: The plant grows 3 feet tall and 4.5 feet wide. The flowers are white and gradually turn medium pink.