Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hydrangeas are so Complicated!

Day 70
The Daily DuBrule

I have  been on a marathon this week, teaching pruning which means I have spent endless hours looking for pictures to illustrate what to do and what NOT to do to your plants to make them healthier, happier, and better looking. 

I have a new strategy for teaching this topic (one of my very favorite things to teach, I must add). I talk all about the different kinds of plants, the ways the buds are set up (old wood-new wood, if you don't know what that means then go to my website and download the handout), studying the natural growth habit of the plants, respecting the plants... I LOVE to prune. I find it relaxing, close to an art form for me. Zen and the art of pruning. I do it to unwind and relax. It makes me really look at the plants and try and figure out what would look good and what would make them healthy.

So, I teach for 90 minutes and everyone, I mean everyone is chomping at the bit because all they really want to know is "why don't my hydrangeas bloom?". It's complicated. There are so many different kinds of hydrangeas. They are like the poster child for pruning classes. Some bloom on new shoots off of old wood. Some bloom on new wood only. Others maintain a woody framework and bloom on new wood off of that. Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on the tips of new wood. Aargh. It's enough to make you crazy.

I have had people admit to me that they have come to my summer hydrangea talks 3 or more times just because they don't get it yet. Let me tell you. If you understand pruning, you will understand hydrangeas. They represent every kind of blooming habit there is. Trust me on this.

If you want to learn how to prune, step back and really study your plants. Sit and stare at them. Study them in bud, study them in the winter. When they are flowering, figure out where the flowers are formed. Do they come from the tips? Do they come right off the branch (like redbuds?). Test the waters, be daring. Do some pruning on some old, resilient plant and see what happens. 

Pruning is actually like creating living sculpture. Lose your fear, gain a ton of respect for the plants, and you are good to go. 

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