Grown for their large, attractive flowers in a range of pastel hues, hydrangeas make a striking addition to your garden. Mophead and lacecap hydrangeas are popular choices, they’re easy to grow and produce beautiful blooms with relatively little attention. It can be a challenge to know how to prune shrubs, and while there is more in-depth pruning advice available for pruning your hydrangeas in spring and early summer, what can you do when your hydrangea blooms are starting to fade? Deadheading spent blooms is one solution, depending on the hydrangea you are growing.
For mophead hydrangeas, you can remove dead flower heads in mild areas, however it is advisable to leave them on the plant. This is because they provide frost protection for the growth buds that will then become next year’s blooms – hydrangeas store moisture in their cork-like stems in winter, which can freeze in cold winter conditions and damage to the plant, You can then remove the dead flowerheads in spring.
If you’re growing lacecap hydrangeas, which are hardier than mopheads, you can deadhead as soon as the flowers have faded and no later than early August. This will stop the plant from putting energy into seed production.
It is advisable to check which pruning group your hydrangea falls into, to help you with how and when to do thorough pruning on your plant to ensure a your plant stays healthy and puts on a beautiful display of blooms each year.
How to deadhead hydrangeas
There are a few simple steps to follow once you have decided it’s time to deadhead your hydrangea.
Firstly, make sure that you have clean, sharp secateurs. This is a crucial step whenever pruning, both to prolong the life of your tool and to prevent the spread of pests and diseases between plants. Next, identify the flowerhead that you want to remove. Travel down the stem, away from the flower, to the next pair of leaves and make the cut directly above these leaves. You must ensure that there is as little stem as possible above this pair of leaves, and make a clean cut with your secateurs.
Repeat the process for all the spent blooms that you want to remove from the plant. You might also like to cut flowers from your hydrangeas to add to a floral arrangement for your home, if doing so you might require a longer stem, so always be sure to cut the stem just above a pair of leaves.
You will not get new flowers this growing season after deadheading your hydrangea, so will need to be patient and wait for a delightful treat again the following year.
Deadheading hydrangeas is not a crucial task, and will not damage your plant if you do not do it. In fact, many gardeners find that the dead flowerheads can provide interest in the winter garden, particularly on frosty days, and can also provide winter protection for the plant.