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Faded hydrangeas are always a sad sight. The popular plants inspire with their flowers, which can be up to 20 centimeters in size, come in a variety of colors and bloom from mid-May to September, as long as sufficient nutrients are available. When it comes to hydrangea, many gardeners consider whether it is advisable to remove hydrangea flowers or leave them on the plant. If so, should you cut off faded flowers or break them off to be on the safe side?
Cut off hydrangea flowers?
Hydrangeas are known to carry faded inflorescences well into winter. For this reason, gardeners, especially novices, are wondering whether it is advisable to remove them. The withered umbels have to They can even be removed to stimulate budding or the formation of new buds, otherwise the hydrangea threatens to weaken its flowering. With the genus, you can easily cut off the hydrangea flowers with scissors, but the hydrangea plants tolerate it better if they are only broken off. Timing is particularly important, however, as otherwise you will be stealing the hydrangea's winter protection, which many species need.
tip: of course you can cut off the flowering period, when the umbels are already somewhat mature and no longer completely fresh, for your vase or for drying. Then simply hang them up or place them in the vase.
You should never cut off or break off the hydrangea inflorescences before winter. The faded acts as winter protection and protects the shoots from wind and snow. In addition, the dried inflorescences have a decorative character that is colourless, but appealing to the season. Especially when snow collects on the umbels, they are a welcome motif in photographs and distract from the dreary weather. The time for cutting off the flowers is based on the cutting group:
cutting group 1
The pruning date for the hydrangea of the first pruning group is in early spring, around March. Since they are a bit more sensitive to frost, you have to wait longer before pruning, but you have the flowers in the garden for a longer period of time. This group of hydrangeas includes the species and their varieties:
- Farmer's hydrangea (bot. Hydrangea macrophylla)
- Plate hydrangea (bot. Hydrangea serrata)
- Rough hydrangea (bot. Hydrangea aspera)
- Velvet hydrangea (bot. Hydrangea sargentiana)
- Oakleaf hydrangea (bot. Hydrangea quercifolia)
- Climbing Hydrangea (bot. Hydrangea petiolaris)
The first cutting group is already forming new buds in autumn which then transport the hydrangeas through the winter. For this reason, you must not cut off the flowers either, otherwise the flowers would fail.Peasant hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla
cutting group 2
The pruning date for faded hydrangeas of the second pruning group is clear earlier. The cut should take place by the end of February at the latest. If you have a location that is sheltered from the wind, pruning is even possible at the end of November, which means that the hydrangea does not have the classic winter protection of the genus. These include the following species and their varieties:
- Snowball hydrangea (bot. Hydrangea arborescens)
- Panicle Hydrangea (bot. Hydrangea paniculata)
The difference to the first pruning group is the formation of the buds. These are only trained in the new year, which makes it possible to cut them so early. Remember not to do this too late or the flower will be very weak or non-existent.Snowball Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens
tip: the blue Hydrangea macrophylla 'Endless Summer' and the white Hydrangea macrophylla 'The Bride' are an exception from this point in time. These produce new flowers every four to six weeks throughout the summer, which requires the removal of the old flowers until autumn comes.
Break off and cut off faded hydrangeas
Depending on whether you want to cut the withered umbels with scissors or simply break them off, you have to pay attention to a few points here. On the one hand, the pruning groups come into play here again, because they determine how far the faded must be cut off:
- 1st cutting group: directly below the flower and above the following leaf axil
- 2. Pruning group: these hydrangeas are completely pruned back to a few centimeters above the ground
Cut off the faded
Most of the time it is not possible to break off the hydrangea of the second group of cuts with your fingers, as they are simply too tight. If this is the case, you will definitely need scissors for this. When cutting, proceed as follows:
- choose sharp, disinfected scissors
- Rose scissors are best suited for this
- start at the appropriate point on the hydrangea, depending on the pruning group
- Cut off faded umbels or shoots
Don't be surprised if there is almost no upper plant material to be seen on your second group hydrangeas. This will sprout again from spring. If you prefer to break off the flowers, proceed as follows:
- grab the corresponding spot with your index finger and thumb
- Use your fingernail to carefully break off the shoot to the side
- do it slowly
- this prevents fibers from being torn too much, which would damage the plant
Pay particular attention to the types of first cut group Be careful not to separate the withered umbel below the leaf axils. That's where the new buds are. For this reason, proceed with caution.