Pruned my Annabelle this week. Now, hydrangeas are one of the plants where it’s really helpful to keep track of variety, because they fall into different pruning groups, and if you prune them wrong, you could easily lose a season of flowers. Ditto clematis.
(If you don’t know the name of your hydrangea or clematis, you can generally figure out appropriate pruning by observing them for a year, looking to see if they flower on new wood or old, so don’t despair if the tags have disappeared, or you’ve inherited a garden with a host of mystery plants.)
Annabelle is our native hydrangea, and thankfully, it’s super-easy to prune. Your options:
a) don’t bother pruning at all — it’ll be fine
b) just take off flower heads (clipping back to just above the emerging buds) either in fall or early spring — I prefer early spring, so I can leave the dried flower heads for winter interest and pollinator habitat
c) take out roughly 1/3 – 2/3 of the oldest stems (done to improve appearance, generally, if it’s getting a bit overgrown, but leaving some stems as supports for new growth, because Annabelle’s large flower heads can be top heavy, especially with rain, so having some structure in there is helpful if you don’t want flowers dragging on muddy ground)
d) cut it all the way down to the ground (it’ll come back that year, but if you do this, do it early, before the new growth and buds form, so either in fall or end of winter)
I did b + a bit of c, and with that nice metal support to help keep her heads held high, Annabelle’s all ready for her blooming fling, when her huge white flower heads will lend a cool, lush note to the summer garden. (Another support option, if you have the space, is to plant three Annabelle near each other in a little triangle, so they support each other.)
There are some new shoots outside the support, and I thought about taking them out for neatness’ sake, but I decided to leave them — those are the ones I plan to harvest early for bouquets in the house.
(This support is from Gardener’s Supply, and I really like it — I leave it out year round, and it’s sturdy, holding up well over several years.)