Pruning helps with scorched plants

Some plants suffered more than others in the recent heatwave. Hydrangeas, that great, reliable standby for shaded areas, were hit quite hard. White-flowering hydrangeas may have been scorched.

Scorched plants can be pruned now to improve their appearance. Look for two plump buds on the stem below the withered bloom and cut above them. Summer pruning is now the norm for hydrangeas, but of course you should wait until later to trim hydrangeas that are still in full bloom.

After the flowers have faded, prune the flowered stems back as described. Stems that haven’t flowered will be set to do so next year. If they are a bit lanky or your hydrangea is out-growing its allocated space, you should prune these back in the same way. As always when pruning, look for weak, twisted or sick-looking stems and take them off at the ground.

Look around now for potted hydrangeas in flower at the nursery, and for nice garden specimens you can beg a few cuttings from in autumn. Hydrangea paniculata is the old-fashioned mop-head flowers we know and love, while H. macrophylla is the lace-cap type with large sterile blooms around a central patch of small, fertile flowers.

They both come in white and coloured forms – in our acid soils, coloured hydrangeas flower in shades of blue. If you want to change blue to pink, add lime to the soil to raise the pH.

The ideal site for hydrangeas is where they get a bit of morning sun, followed by shade throughout the day. Remember to mulch thickly and give them plenty of water in the growing season.

Hydrangeas get through large amounts of water, especially when they’re flowering. You might think their name relates to this, but apparently it comes from the Greek for ‘water vessel’, and refers to the shape of the seed capsules.


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