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Help - I'm afraid for our hydrangea

We bought our house 5 years or so ago, and it was very healthy for the first few years. One year it got too big and blocked our front walk, so I trimmed it. I must have done that during the summer, and the next year we didn't get any blooms. I think this is the first sign that I messed up. 
This year we had some blooms, but they were sickly looking, and a lot of the leaves turned brown. Turning to google, I ended up cutting off a lot of the sickly leaves, with clean sharp pruning scissors, and it sort of bounced back - with longer stalks with healthy leaves at their ends.
I think at this point - I'm just trying to figure out how to set the hydrangea up for a good summer next year with a more proportionate size. Which may mean cutting it back a lot, and maybe not having blooms next year. 
Any advice before I hurt it again? 
Thanks for any advice!


  • bcpathomebcpathome Posts: 1,252
    What sort is it ? They need cutting back ,or pruning,at different times . If it’s a mop head type you should leave it alone till the spring next year . Then cut it back to the new growth nearest the roots .
  • After googling, I do think it is a mop head type. Thanks so much for the advice!
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,968
    Mop heads get pruned back to a good set of buds in late winter/early spring. The big factor with that is your climate. Doing it too early can result in new growth being damaged. You won't kill it though - the worst that can really happen is losing flowers. 
    I would do that kind in late April normally, but we can then have late frosts which take new growth. Often, we don't have them growing much before then though, which is why your location/climate makes a big difference, and timing is key, but it can be difficult to judge, as the weather patterns are becoming a bit hit and miss. That's gardening though.
    Some people take long stems right back, remove anything dead or damaged, and leave others completely, so that they get a bit of everything, so if in doubt, you can do a bit of variation in the pruning.
    It can also depend on the variety - some are much tougher and easier than others.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Songbird-2Songbird-2 Posts: 1,503
    My parents had hydrangea's in their garden, all over. Apart from deadheading( which took them ages as they had that many) they never touched them. Surprisingly, they grew and flourished so others have said, I suppose it's all down to the soil and conditions of any given area. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,968
    It looks a bit lacking in nutrients - the foliage itself is quite poor in that respect,  so it could be beneficial to add plenty of organic matter from now onwards. That's far better than artificial feeding.
    The site might mean it doesn't have access to terribly good soil. That, and adequate moisture, are what matters most for them  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 2,769
    Mop head hydrangeas (H. macrophylla) flower on old wood so if you cut all the stems back to ground level in spring you won't get any flowers next year. I would try to open the plant up in spring next year by removing a third of the stems at ground level, selecting those that are dead, weak, misshapen or crossing over other stems. You will promote healthier new growth and still get flowers from the stems you haven't pruned. Repeat this process the following year to obtain a more robust framework with healthier growth and flowers. Incorporating organic matter into the surrounding soil will help at any time, either as a mulch on top, or dug into the area.
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.

  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 2,769
    The video on this link should help you:
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.

  • LynLyn Posts: 22,867
    @billychorey65926 There’s a lot of growth lower down,  that’s for next years flowers,  just cut the long bare stalks down to that leve, leaving those leafy bits,  at the end of March,  beginning of April. 
    I cut mine down right to the ground every 3 to 4 years in rotation so they are not all flowerless at once.   They soon spring back.
    As @Fairygirl says,  a nice layer of organic matter around will be good.  I’ve never fed one with any sort of bought ‘plant food’ .  You can buy a bag in a garden centre if you haven’t got a compost heap in your garden. 
    Are you in America?  I don’t know how well they grow there,  here they do better on slightly acidic soil. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Thanks everyone for the responses! It sounds like something I can do now is work on the soil, and then address the pruning in the spring. I appreciate you all taking the time to help!
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 9,605
    It looks to me as if the space isn't wide enough for it to get to its mature flowering size and shape without growing over the path. My Nan had one that was cut back hard every spring but still grew to block the path to the front door by the time it got to the stage of flowering. Fortunately everyone used the back door.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
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